Picking the Right Visual Media
having a little conversation with my my new best friends here in this room. And, um was an interesting idea that came up, which was we were talking about, Um, the situation of, say, traveling Say you go to all users to use my personal experience. Say you go to Costa Rica to go surfing with some friends who happened to be designers. And there are photographing all the local sign Ege, all the local typography, all the stuff that's been handmade like There's a guy by the side of the road with the cooler with coconuts floating in water and you buy it and it's like the best drink in the whole world, right? So our friends air like photographing that stuff, And I'm thinking, Why are you doing that? Cause you're just gonna bring it back to New York and scan it in and ruin it. You can object. Arise it or you're gonna try. You know you're gonna do stuff to it. And Franco are genius here in the studio. He said he said, Yeah, they're just gonna rub the magic off it. I'm like, uh, yes, exactly rubb...
ed the magic off of it. You know, I was asked a bunch of years ago to do a job. Pal of mine. I've designed I designed a whole slew of his books and, um, he was working The New York Times the time, and at the time he said it was like it was like, the day before I left for, um the holidays like Christmas. I was gonna go away to my folks or something, and it was the day before and he said, Hey, James, I'm sorry to you know, sorry, but can you you know, we just got an opportunity for a full page ad in such a such a magazine. Can you make us something that and I wrote back? And I'm like, Dude, we can do anything. We're magicians and I like that. I just did it like Little Lulu were magicians. But I like that idea where magicians we can do anything. We live in a cartoon world. There's no rules, right? I like that idea. I like I like I like the idea that you can take an idea and an image and put them together in a new way. And I like the magic that comes from that I but I believe in that. You know, I'm for better or for worse. I'm a believer, you know, Um, So we are talking about this the right answer. And I think we've gotten to the point where I can be honest with you and you think you guys know that? What's the right answer? There is no right answer you know I can come up with I can come up with, You know, I've done a situation where I have judged shows say I go to Japan and there's an exhibition that they've created. It's called Water Is Life, for example. And they give 50 designers around the world this assignment, and then the posters come in and then you judge them and there's like, 50 different ideas and they're all good. You know, they're all bad because it's a silly idea. Did Water is life on even what that means, but anyway, But, you know, I can come up with 5 10 20 ideas for anyone job, and I'm like what the question was be in the last session. It's like, How do you choose? You know, I don't know, I don't know. And a lot of times, when in the class session like this, I say, Well, you know, I'll be creating a piece, and I'll say, Well, this is good. This is good, but this is wrong, and this is wrong. This is wrong. Um, and then the student will say, Oh, can I show you the one that I didn't put up that they were afraid to put up on the wall? And I Look at it, I'm like, this is so right. Why were you afraid to put your, you know, so funny? And, um, the right answer is, What am I right? Two things. The the process is one. You have to figure out what you want to say. You know? What's your opinion on the subject? What's your opinion on love? What's your opinion on Romeo and Juliet? What? Huh? An opinion. I can have an opinion on Romeo and Juliet. I can't just Can I just show two dead birds, like, you know, well known? If you haven't read the play, how can you form an opinion? Right. It's like, wow, I like giving you the freedom to have an opinion. And Romeo and Juliet. So hey, here's something about Romeo and Juliet. that you might not know about if you hadn't read it. There's a character in there called Nursey. She's marvellous. She's hilarious. And early in the play she's she was Juliet sweeteners, right? So early in the place. She's talking to Romeo, and she's telling the story about when Juliet was born and she says, When Juliet was born, there was an earthquake because Juliet cried so loudly, and it was it was actually true that there was an earthquake. It wasn't because of Juliette's crying. But what Shakespeare is doing in there is telling us the Juliet is the strongest character in that play, right? But when you we see posters always see are these kind of like to sad figures, you know, no one pays attention to this, you know you can You can find new stuff, interesting content if you go looking for it. So one is ah, hard part is picking out what you want to say. What's your opinion on it? And two is the correct form for it to take, you know? Is it lettering? Is it photography? Is it lettering that you photograph right? We had a bunch of images here that we thought we thought, Wow, we could photograph this now and kind of keep that dimension. Is it lettering on on a found object? Is it a bunch of found objects that we just, you know, collaged together? Um, and what we're doing when you're trying to find the correct form for it's like you're trying to find what will make that idea mawr strong mawr true. You know, for some love assignments, for example, um, drawing might not be the right answer because the drawing is fabricated, right? We've we've made it with their hands. Maybe a photograph makes it feel more more true, right? You know, um so in finding the correct form for things to take, it's gonna depend on the story that you want to tell and the form will change. These things that I've seen is I see a lot of work out in the world. You know, if we go out outside and go through a walk through the through San Francisco, we can sit down and look at work and say, Oh, this is interesting. Was curious that they use a photograph when they should have When when possibly another form would speak more clearly just something to think about. Um, here's something else. I was talking with one of you all. I was talking with Pause earlier and she were walking in. And she said the love assignment I did was similar to the letter making the word making assignment where I collaged and I did, um, cut paper. And I did this and I did this and I said, Oh, that was your problem because you were so concerned with the decoration, So concerned with what it looked like. You forgot about what it says, right? That's important. Something to think about, you know, with my work. I look back on my work, and what I see there is it's, I think my work is less. It's not as important about what it looks like. I think it's much more important about what it says. You know, I try to take the right form. I have concerns about beauty, right? Buckminster Fuller. He has no film familiar with Buckminster Fuller. He at once time he talked about he talked about beauty and decoration. He was very, um he wrote a lot about these ideas and one of the ideas that he put out was, he said. He said, I never concerned myself with beauty when I'm working on a project. He was architect, right? He says. I never concerned myself with beauty, but if at the end of the process, it's not beautiful, I've done something wrong kind of interesting. Um, but at the same time, I have my old pal Henryk Tomaszewski, who had mentioned before and sitting with him in his living room. We had a conversation and I one time I said, Um, I talked to him about something being beautiful, like he his He had these brushes that they they were like caked with paint and kind of not well cleaned and not. And they were like little. They look like they had arthritis. You know, these arthritic brushes and they're just like little jars full of them. And things were these were his tools, and I asked him about something that's a mark that he had made with him. That was, that was that was beautiful. And he just looked at meetings like ugly, Beautiful. I don't know the difference. He's not telling the truth. He knows the difference. It's like the Picasso thing. Art is not a lie artist in or Excuse me, art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, right? Um um, Henrik was saying that he doesn't concern himself. He works like I do. I think he worked to make marks that were consciously ugly. But somehow there's there's there's beauty in it in a number of different ways. Just just like those those ink marks that, you know, I get I get a brush or a pan or something. You know, I'm always seeking with that with a panel of pencil just to make it just makes him mark, And I'm kind of weird that way. I look at I like to make a little market. I'm like, That's really great and I, like, tear out the page and put it away. Something special's going and use it someday. You know, The funny thing is, if you look at my early posters and there's some splatters like, I think I'll show the I showed the Mickey posters earlier, and they're splatters. If you look at that splatter and you will get any other poster from that era, the head splatters this exact same splatter. I just made one, and it's really hard to make a good one. And I just kept it. It's in the drawer somewhere, you know. It was it was ugly enough that it was just, like, beautiful dare I say perfect because we're gonna talk about perfection at some point. So this thing is about ugly and beautiful is really important because again, I'm going go to Costa Rica and you see that lettering where you see the sign injury, You see the architecture like, Ah, that's really that's really awesome. And here in San Francisco, I'm walking around. I'm seeing all this crazy architecture around here. You guys like shoehorn buildings between buildings, right? It's nuts. And then they have all this candy on top of them Really crazy. You know, it's interesting. So the idea of, of ugly and beautiful is really important to think about cause beautiful is not always. The goal shouldn't be always the goal, especially beauty for its own sake, like decoration. You know, you get a nice idea, you decorate the hell out of it. And kind of what you're doing is you're kind of covered up, you know, in your careers, you know, Scott Stephanie. Mel, you guys are gonna have, like, at some point, you're gonna have a retrospective For the mere fact that you've been in this class and are listening to me. You are gonna be so qualified to have a retrospective of your work in 15 to 20 years because you're gonna take all this to heart. And my job is to make you fearless and better than me. You're gonna have a retrospective and you're gonna have probably less than 100 pieces in that show. I Was it Paul rans retrospective. There were less than 100 pieces in that show. How many pieces are you gonna make in your life? Tons. They're not all going to be good. You know why everybody poops. Snow Surprise. It's OK. Don't worry about it. Write that down. Franco, that is I am one. I am one tweet herbal. Dude, Put that out. Everybody poops. Jaime Torres is, anyway, Boots. You know, not all my work is great. I've made some real stinkers. Matter of fact, when you get the book Victoria who died? You made you boss. $40 in the store. 26.5, amazon dot com. I worked with a pal of mine, Help me design the book. He designed the book. I said He said Black. I said Yes, He said, no, I mean really black. I said Yes, you know, Um so he's designing this book and he says, You know, you know, and the reason I had someone else designed The book is I can't look at my work. I'm really bad at curating is to me. You know that my first exhibition was in Osaka, Japan. Beautiful gallery pieces were hung lovely, but I got there and it was like seeing my dirty laundry hanging in somebody's house. You know, there was in the gallery. It was a little bit weird. I'm not good at looking at my own stuff. So I had this guy Paul Sayer, genius designer s a h r e. Paul is amazing. Onley person. I would trust designing a book, my book and, um, Paul being a genius, he said He says, you know, we're gonna have to dio I said, What doesn't have to show the bad stuff? Wait now this is a book of my work is supposed to be like Look at James Adoree is he's like, No, we have to show the bad stuff as a why, he says. Because you didn't just we weren't born out of the womb and boom, make great work. You stunk and you worked at it. We have to show the bad stuff. So in the book is a lot of the early book jackets, and I look at those now and I'm like, Wow, Paul's amazing because I look at them now and I can see the struggle. I can see how I'm like trying a bunch of trying to learn about typefaces or fonts. I don't even know what they called anymore. There's so many rules about this now that's lettering. That's not really you mean the ones with the little feet on him or the ones without the feed crazy but anyway, and I see someone trying to figure out how to work with images and someone trying to, you know it's interesting, but everybody poops. Don't worry about it. And now I'm getting to the point where I'm curious. I'm curious about ideas and how strong they are, like without without the drawings without the decoration is just an idea strong. I was. I was I was wondering, Can I can I have Ah, career where it's like everything I make is just a big white piece of paper or a big black piece of paper with flush left Helvetica typography or Cooper Black typography? My other favorite Go to font Um and it's just an idea, you know, For example, this is not mean. This is a This is the world's shortest story and this is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. You guys know this thing? They said that they were. They were sitting. Supposedly, it's it's supposedly goes back before having waves around like early early 19 hundreds, but supposedly were sitting around the bar, him and his pals, and he bet them all 10 bucks apiece that he could write the world's shortest story and then, like 10 bucks was a lot then. So they all put in money into the pot, right? And he on a napkin, writes this for sale. Baby shoes, never one right sad story. It's Can you even design this? Would you even attempt? What do you do what you do? I know what people would do if this was a real job, some advertising and she's gonna put it out of ST it's gonna be like this. And right here, you know, it's gonna be what's going right here, baby shoes. Oh, wait. Oh! Oh, those baby shoes, right? Like I'm on. Idiot. I wouldn't get that. It was baby shoes. Oh, my God. Oh, look, he's got a price tag on it. Still reward, right? All we can do is ruin this idea. It's like you guys go to the movies. You went to see, uh, the habit. All right. You want to see the Hobbit, and you're like watching the movie. You're like, That's not what the orcs look like, right? Why? Because you guys are smart, You guys air creatively Amazing. You're reading words and the pictures pop into your head and you make these amazing worlds and filmmakers just like shove the c g I crap at you, right? You're smart in town. Didn't qualified. What about just ideas? There's it is just an interesting idea. What if we don't design them? Obviously, here's a choice. I've chose Helvetica. If it was hand written, there is a choice. It's Cooper Black. There's a choice. Wrong choice, right? Curious typewriter. There's a choice is all these are, quite frankly, quite frankly arbitrary. Choices type, color image quite frankly, arbitrary choices. Interesting idea. So I'm gonna take you through a couple of pieces of mine and showed just kind of like the choices that I made in choosing the right form for it to take. So these air to these air a set of posters paid for by a Japanese clients that were just pencil drawings about They're about that big, each on tracing paper, just just black and white. A friend of mine, Bailer Bar Saudi, had photographed literally. He found those flies having a party little, little. There were little tiny beer bottles along the edge of the window. So little TV. I didn't draw those, but it was crazy thes two flies. He literally photographed it, and I was like, Dude, can I Can I use that? So I just traced traced his his thing, and then the bunnies I put together from like, clip art. There's like two different buddies, and I imagined one was just like out hopping, and the other one was like standing up looking around, and I just kind of back them into drew them and then just cut out from, like the newspaper A cut out a a condom because it has a dot pattern in it from the newspaper. It's like It's OK, but just literally It was if they were photographs. I don't think I don't know if they would be the same. I don't if they would have the same impact. Possibly. Possibly typography one of my go to funds Cooper Black. I try to set. I make a lot of stickers and I do them all in Cooper Black for a number of reasons. One is because the place I get the stickers only has five bonds to choose from, you know, times and some I mean some crazy stuff, right? So I use Cooper Black. Um, also use it because it designed drives designers crazy because the first thing they look at this and they go on And Cooper blank, I'm like, Why don't you should You know, it was like because they can't see the forest through the trees because they're so concerned about typeface and what it looks like. They don't see the idea, you know, when people who were not designers love these things. So typography and not making tight choices with the typography. I don't care spaces between the little those two or touching. That's a no, no. Whatever. Photography. I mean, this is literally I was sitting out doing my writing. I'm working. I'm working on a new book, Um, out early in the morning at my bar. It's a bar, but they have coffee, too. So I said a bar. And, um, I'm writing, like, seven in the morning and I'm thinking about I'm writing on a subject. I'm thinking about being a kid and being creative, and you guys correct me if I'm wrong. But when I was a kid, my creativity was not Condoned, not fostered, not rewarded, like in school or the house. It was just like, Why are you talking? What are you doing? Why are you drawing on the edges of your books? Why are you you know breaking that was breaking the rules, making wordplay? You know, creativity is dangerous. I even in my classes, don't like creativity. You know why? Because creative people where they dio they disrupt, They talk out of order, right? Creativity is dangerous. Anyway, I was writing about this idea and I thought you know what? That's a funny idea. The things that made me weird as a kid is what makes me great. Right now. I'm really trying to just pay attention to that. And I wrote it in the gutter because that was like the cool. That was like a cool place to write at the time was like, That's even weirder, James. Wow, you're really breaking the roles. So I wrote in the gutter of the sketchbook, right? Put it, put it instagram literally, you know, took it outside of the dank bar and instagram of it. That afternoon. I had teachers from different parts of the country writing me who I didn't know. We're following me, and they said that would make a really great poster about, um um bullying. I thought, Oh, well, I'll make a poster. So I basically took the thing back into the studio, took my bigger camera, did a high end photo, so now you can get you pointed out this size and then put some fake logos on the bottom. Why does it need logos? It looks official. It's crazy. You put a local want and someone goes Well, somebody paid money for that must be worth something. There's an authenticity. There's a validity. That logo's give it right. But now here, here's a fun little thing. Logos. We don't We don't really We're not really talking about it in this class, but, you know, you put Planned Parenthood logo on there. You put the Nike logo on there. Every time you put a mark on the page, it changes it. Especially logos you put planning. Apparently, to make sense, you put Nike. You're like, they're selling me some, right? So, yeah, this is the way, literally Just photographed the thing. Um um, found objects. This is Ah, a next ambition that I had at a hotel where we they said I had a client who paid me a shit ton of money and said, We love, you know, have a Nexabit an art show. I said, Great. I would have to go out and buy some art. So I went to, like, all the antique shops around. I bought paintings, and then I took him home and thes aphorisms that we deal with. I had them, um, a friend of mine do some beautiful high end fluorescent orange typography silk screened on him. Um, and, um, after tomorrow I have a cop. There was another. There was a real poster that we made of this exhibition to and that I have as a present for you all. And you won't get get that one. And that one says, Freedom is something you take, um, found object, like drawing on things. This was a talk that I had. Why didn't why on a bone? I don't know, it just seemed to make sense. It was something I wanted to do with the time that says how to stay hard and evening with James Victoria and I was talking I was talking about like it's difficult to do good work to do one piece of good work. It's hard not to do that for five years now. To do that for 15 years, how to do that for 25 years and, you know, maintain that level of creativity in your job when there's all this other stuff going on. I got to make money. I gotta have a family. I've got other work going on, you know, but this is fun, and it's funny because this poster is about it's about really about that size. Quite frankly, it's about that size, although if you order it online, you can get like huge is really sexy when it's big, because this photograph is exquisite. A friend of mine, an amazing photographer named Tom Share. Let's photograph. This is exquisite, but this bone is only about that big. It's and real life and real. The boat. The poster. It's about the size of your you know, your femur. It's kind of crazy, but I like, you know, Justin opportunity to draw on found objects or this kind of I think it was. It was a large dog, I think. I think that's what they told me. It was pretty big, pretty big bone, and I spray painted it black because just I didn't I didn't want to draw on a white bone. It was just I just vision in my head as a white poster with something strong on it, and it's funny if I showed you the maquettes, the drawings like I drew. I did it this size first, and I drew the bone just out of my head, drew a bone, and I thought, Wow, this is really great, but it didn't work as a drawing like it's really weird if you actually go put a bone, find a bone. So I went out and I went looking around to a bunch of places and I found this bone and I bring it back and I put it next to a drawing and it hatched. It looked exactly like the drug was really creepy is really crazy or to, you know, drawn. Any opportunity to draw on the human form is so much fun. It's so awesome. This was a video. This was a video that we did for my when my book came out. Um um And Orson Welles is right. No, Excuse me. WC Feels is right. Never work with Children and dogs or bunnies. Oh, my God, that was nuts.