There is always a larger picture...
In 1986, when I began my studio, communication design was clearly defined in separate disciplines. This means, generally, if you worked as a professional magazine designer, it would be difficult for you to slip easily into product design and vice versa. Lines between disciplines were more rigid back then.
I was never one for rigidity and the people who influenced me the most were not graphic designers. These were the kind of people who examined all kinds of cultural and physical suppositions, past and present; and were more interested in the learning than being the "expert". The list is too long for you to read, but folks like R. Buckminister Fuller and Fritjov Capra are the kinds of people that have made a difference in the way that I think.
My recent MFA, in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College allowed me to explore ideas across print, video and internet media while offering an analytic foundation in sociology and history. Some of the work from this study can be seen on the Non-Commercial Work page and on the Words page.
In the late eighties, my studio went socially and ecologically conscious – long before it was the fashion or the trend in the corporate or design world. At that time, it cost a good deal more to use recycled paper on projects and we often struggled with clients to get them to do it. We were members of Businesses for Social Responsibility and CoOp America when they were small startup organizations. My dear, brilliant designer friends, Jo Obarowski, as well as John Napolitano (now deceased) remained a driving inspiration in this area.
We were also at the earliest curve of the "all by hand" trend, using organic papers, letterpress, and countless handmade effects (much to the discouragement of interns who often patiently did this work). While these could look current in today's world, they were created almost 20 years ago before so many people thought "old stuff" looked cool.
Guerrilla Marketing in the '80s
I never called it that when I began to do it our Studio Gifts in 1989, but I had created a way that our corporate clients could appreciate and understand the efforts of many non-profit organizations in a most unusual way.
These were complex (and ultimately, very expensive!) year-end projects that became gifts given to clients and colleagues. They entertained, explained and generally created additional interest in the non-profit. They were all created in quantities under 500 pieces. See our Design Portfolio Page for more.
I considered these a very personal design projects, enjoying all the back-end research that I did each year on them, and was thrilled that they were included in many design annuals. Since then, it's become much more commonplace for corporate clients to acknowledge and partner with non-profits in creative ways, but I'm glad we were on the earliest part of that curve. Read "How Design Can Make a Difference" for more.
"Every Story Tells a Picture"
I think God said "in the beginning was the word" but in today's world, it's the image. Images really drive the way we perceive reality. That's why we've heard "Every picture tells a story". Pictures are the fastest way to communicate with someone, and god knows where we'd be without them. But I think this has created a world of lazy thinkers, since understanding words takes more work. The true meaning of things has actually become overshadowed, distorted and often obscured by appearance. But when we read or listen to language, our minds are forced to imagine pictures for themselves; we use our brains to create as well as receive!
Many years ago, a visionary poet, writer, musician and artist put a different twist on that old axiom. He wrote "Every story tells a picture". His name was Stephen Ultimo and he was my father. I won't bore you with the depth of gratitude I feel for him or how many unacknowledged talents he had. He was simply the greatest man I have ever met and I was lucky to have been his daughter.
And by the way, the handwriting "Every Story Tells a Picture" seen in our logo and around the site, belongs to him.
Thanks to Eadweard Muybridge
The animation on our splash page is a series of photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904). Our logo contains this photo as well. It is with utmost respect and honor that we use his photography. It reflects a kind of thinking that took great courage and a really unique perspective, uncommon qualities in the world of design and media today.
For those unfamiliar with this work of this pioneer, he has been called "The Father of the Motion Picture" because his work is considered an essential link between still photography and the movies. Before him, no one had ever put together a sequence of photos of anyone or anything "going" from one place to another. When you put all these together, well, you've got the first flip book!