Kali Ciesemier

Kali Ciesemier is a (living and working!) illustrator based in Los Angeles. She graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art. Since graduating, she has taught at Maryland Institute College of Art from 2009 – 2013, University of Arts in Philadelphia in 2015, and the School of Visual Arts from 2015 – 2016.

Her impressive client list includes Amtrak, Boston Globe, Cartoon Network, New Yorker, Google, Harper Collins, LA Times, New York Times, Scholastic, and United Way. She consistently does editorial illustrations for magazine articles, which she posts on her blog along with commentary about her process. Ciesemier also published a graphic novel titled I Am Princess X, about two young best friends whose imaginary princess creation goes viral years after one of the friends is killed in a car accident. Another work by Ciesemier is her contribution to the first issue of the Steven Universe Comic series, entitled, “Steven Chewniverse.” Right now, Ciesemier is working as a freelance illustrator, and is also the color designer for the show OK KO: Let’s Be Heroes!, at Cartoon Network.

I was personally drawn to Ciesemier’s work because of the color and beautiful use of digital mediums. She has an amazing handle on color theory and uses a variety of colors successfully in all her pieces. This is due to her process, she says that she completes a greyscale sketch first, in order to make sure the tones are correct, before going in with color. Her work feels loose, yet very finished, and is well suited to editorial illustration. I love the intentional amount of texture that she manages to fit into all her pieces, without them ever feeling over-worked. I would love to see a video of her drawing process! I love how she doesn’t use outlines in her drawings, they feel alive, and full of movement, yet very polished.

She also hashes out some serious tax and saving advice for illustrators on her blog – pretty cool.

Professional illustrators need references too!





Michael Vanderbyl

Michael Vanderbyl
Related image

“When it comes to design, I like to do it all.”

Michael Vanderbyl is a multidisciplinary designer who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area. His education came full circle, as he has now worked for 30 years, teaching at the California College of the Arts, where he graduated. Today, he serves as the Dean of Design at CCA.

His career has been influential because he helped to establish the San Francisco Bay area as a centre for the postmodernist movement during the 70s and 80s. Vanderbyl’s work spans many different disciplines, and his lasting legacy is his ability to merge different design forms through his work. In 1973 he founded Vanderbyl Design. Through his studio he’s done traditional graphic design, furniture design, product design, and interior design for showrooms and retail space. His work is varied and expressive, with a wide range of styles and applications.

Image result for michael vanderbyl interior design
AmericaOne, graphic identity, hull and apparel graphics for America’s Cup Challenge (St. Francis Yacht Club), 2000.

Vanderbyl’s work has been recognized countless times by various contests and organizations. Some of his most memorable awards are his AIGA Medal, awarded in 2000, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Interior Design Association in 2006. His work is displayed in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Denver Art Museum, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and Library of Congress.

The Geography of Curiosity, poster for the Gravity Free Conference, 2007.






Paula Scher

“Master conjurer of the instantly familiar”

Paula Scher
Scher’s iconic typography work for the Public Theater

Paula Scher has cemented herself as one of the world’s most talented and influential graphic designers of all time. Her career began in high school, where she discovered a love for art and acted as the “Publicity Chairman,” creating posters and brochures for events and dances.

From her first job working at CBS records, to starting her own agency only a few years later, Scher’s career took off very quickly. Her most well known work has been done in the years since 1991, when she became a partner at Pentagram.

Her work at Pentagram has included many brand identities, like the famous one for the Public Theater, one of her ongoing clients. She’s also redesigned identities for the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. Her redesign of the Citi logo took only a few seconds to create.

Scher’s work on the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre

Another, perhaps lesser known aspect of Scher’s work is her innovative use of supergraphics. Supergraphics in design are defined as large scale graphics, typography, and imagery on walls or other large surfaces. With a wide array of applications including way finding, education, and interior decoration, they are an exciting, if not extremely challenging media for designers to work in. Scher’s supergraphics works include the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre, for which she says she “redrew the building in typography.” She’s also done supergraphics for the PAVE Academy Charter School, which helped to establish a voice and brand for the school, while brightening the interior and inspiring students.

Supergraphics inside the PAVE Academy Charter School







Image result for tintin

The man we know as Hergé was born Georges Remi, in Etterbeek, Belgium. As a young boy, he was nicknamed “curious fox” by his friends. His first drawings were published in Le Boy-Scout Belge (The Belgian Boy Scout) at the age of 17. Around this time, he began using the name “Hergé” – derived from the pronounced sound of his initials in French – as a pen name, like the illustrator Erté.

Hergé’s first published comic strip.

His first comic strip, which would eventually lead to the creation of Hergé’s world famous character Tintin, was called Totor, de la Patrouille des Hannetons, and was published in Le Boy-Scout Belge. Hergé then began working for the newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle. Tintin was born in 1929, when Hergé was promoted to the chief editor position of the children’s section of the magazine. Originally, Tintin was was created to be, essentially, propaganda for children, since the magazine was very conservative. The first Tintin story published was Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. 

Hergé began doing more extensive background research for his Tintin books as the popularity of the character grew. His elaborate plots were well planned, historically and culturally accurate (to a certain degree, more on that later) and featured action stories that were still nonviolent.

A page spread from The Black Island.

During World War II, Le Vingtieme Siecle was closed by the Nazis, and Hergé began working at Le Soir, a popular French newspaper controlled by the Nazis. Here, Hergé continued creating and publishing Tintin stories, and also began printing them in color. The end of the war brought an investigation into the newspaper, which was accused of conspiring with the Nazis. Hergé was swept into this controversy, and was even accused himself, but managed to escape accusations unscathed.

However, Hergé’s works and career were far from spotless. A depressed man and a heavy drinker, Hergé didn’t take criticism well and was, overall, not the best person. Many (most, ALL?) of his Tintin stories contain subtle, or explicit, racist messages. His style of portraying asian and black characters was extremely caricatured and stereotyped, and relied on negative and racist imagery. However, many of Tintin’s adventures were set abroad, and Hergé thoughtful research and portrayal of these places was appreciated. Later in life, he travelled worldwide, celebrated in the countries he visited. Hergé himself, as well as his work, faced many continued accusations of racism throughout his career and after his death. Some biographers and friends argue that Hergé’s views expressed in Tintin were no more than reflections of the commonly held political beliefs of the time. Hergé is also known for his obsessive passion for creations. Some of his questionable decisions (ex. working for Le Soir) have been chalked up to his number one priority being the continued publication of the Tintin books.

A comics strip panel. A heavily-caricatured African king jumps in the air angrily, saying, "Curses! ... Our military done for! ... By my ancestors, me myself kill miserable white man!"
An example of a racist, condescending, and colonialist portrayal of black people in one of Hergé’s stories.

Tintin wasn’t the only thing Hergé created. He also produced two other comic series: The Adventures of Jo, Zette, and Jocko and Quick & Flupke. His skilled storytelling and endearing characters have made him a worldwide favourite with children and adults alike. Tintin books have a sense of adventure and possibility. A skilled draftsman and colorist, I feel that it is sometimes overlooked just how talented Hergé was with a pencil. As well, his ability to portray light and shadow with flat color rivals some of the best artists I know.

Hergé is a personal favourite of mine, since he introduced me to graphic novels as a genre, and helped me realize how much I love storytelling through art. Hergé even taught me how to draw hands! Regardless of Hergé as a man, Tintin will always have a very special place in my heart, as he does in the heats of millions of people all over the world.

Image result for tintin crowd scene
An example of one of Hergé’s amazingly detailed scenes.





Image sources


Coles Phillips

Model 20 Hudson Motor Car advertisement
Model 20 Hudson Motor Car advertisement, Gouache

Cole Phillips was born in Springfield, Ohio, into a lower middle class family. His parents had few aspirations for him, however, he drew throughout his childhood. His first job was at the American Radiator Company where he worked as a clerk. In 1902 he began attending Kenyon College, where he created popular illustrations for the school yearbook and magazine, The Reveille. 

In his junior year, Phillips left school and headed to New York City, with hopes of making it as an artist. Of course, career plans rarely follow a linear path, and he had his fair share of ups and downs. Immediately, he was hired at the American Radiator Company’s NYC branch. He was fired however, since he drew on the job, and was found with an unflattering caricature of his boss. Next, he got a job working in what was effectively an art assembly line. Here, he would often draw just ankles, a skill that would come in surprisingly handy when he began working closely with hosiery companies Holeproof and Luxite. He quit this tedious job after only eight weeks and after a brief stint at an advertising agency, figured he could open his own. He did, but found that he had no time to paint or do any of his own work, so became a freelance illustrator, relying only on a month’s worth of savings. He was able to secure a job at the magazine Life (a different one than the one you’re probably thinking of) and began doing illustrations for them.


His big breakthrough came when he was assigned his first cover. He decided to utilize a technique he’d been thinking about, where he removed strategic parts of the foreground and bled the background color through that space, effectively using negative space to “draw” large parts of the illustration. The cover was a huge success and was dubbed the first “Fade away girl.” Phillips’ new fade away technique would become a signature of his.

Over the course of his career, Phillips would illustrate over 50 covers for Life. He also signed a five year, monthly cover contract with Good Housekeeping. He illustrated numerous books, advertisements, as well as magazine covers for Colliers, Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s,  Saturday Evening Post,  Women’s Home Companion, and Liberty. Oftentimes, he wrote his own copy for his advertisements.

Phillips’ work became increasingly more sexual over time, as society loosened. Even still, many of his illustrations were of beautiful women, and caused quite a stir. He is even credited with drawing the first pin up girl. His use of strong design principles helped his work gain mass appeal, and was famous throughout the world. From 1907 – 1927 he was considered one of the most popular American illustrators. Sadly for him, his fade away work was so well liked that art directors often didn’t let him experiment outside of those bounds. Phillips was a businessman about all his illustration endeavours, and insisted that he include his signature on all his works. He died from kidney disease at the age of 47.

Phillips’ first cover featuring his iconic “Fade away girl”, 1908





Survey 10: Nazis and Art Domination

For my fourth and final spread, I worked alongside Elizabeth to create a design for the Art and Color category. For this spread, we were working with the information from Survey 10. We were intrigued by how art was used in the Nazi regime, so we decided to focus on the contrast between Nazi sanctioned “Third Reich Art” and hated “Degenerate Art.”

In order to depict the stark difference in the way Nazis viewed these two different categories of art, we decided to make each side of the spread look like a wall in an art gallery, with the corner in the middle. The divide between the two helps to emphasize how different they were.

On my side, I painted a wall of the Great Exhibition of German Art. I used light colors to highlight the classical nature of Third Reich Art, and chose two sculptures and a painting that embody much of Nazi art in my opinion. Elizabeth and I decided to both use gouache, so that our sides would have continuity in style. We came up with the title “Nazis and Art Domination” that travels across the top of both sides of the spread. The way the page split works, the title works individually on each side as well as together. I think this was a really cool way to sum up what happened to art in World War II Germany. To highlight the title even further, I used an typically Nazi Fraktur font for my side, while Elizabeth used a modern font that would have been seen in the Degenerate art exhibit.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this spread turned out. Elizabeth had a lot of amazing ideas, and I think we did a really good job of collaborating to create a spread that feels cohesive on both sides. I’d give us a 9/10.

Survey 10: In Which, Designers Find Themselves in America, Pursued by Nazis


The 1930’s and 40’s were a wild time for artists and designers, and I mean w  i  l  d. Not only was the Great Depression hitting the entire world, hard, but World War II began soon after. nearly 3 straight decades of worldwide turmoil led to some amazing new technologies and opportunities for design to improve, however. As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, jobs were created for designers and photographers to create travel posters and capture the images of the times. Raymond Loewy, the “father of industrial design” (and the father of streamlining – can someone find the full family tree, please?) helped create simple, functional, and appealing objects. Two world fairs helped to push new inventions and innovations in design into public view.

During World War II, many European designers fled to the United States to escape the Nazi regime. This resulted in a shift of the art centre of the world from Paris to New York City, and helped to modernize art and design in America (a much needed change).


“Divine destiny has given the German people everything in the person of one man. Not only does he possess strong and ingenious statesmanship, not only is he ingenious as a soldier, not only is he the first worker and the first economist among his people but, and this is perhaps his greatest strength, he is an artist. He came from art, he devoted himself to art, especially the art of architecture, this powerful creator of great buildings. And now he has also become the Reich’s builder.”

–Hakenkreuzbanner (The Swastika Flag), June 10, 1938

The Third Reich aimed to control and manipulate every are of its citizen’s lives. Part of the reason why it was so successful in its control was because it utilized many different tactics to target people. Hitler’s plan to create a “synchronization of culture” was made to present a unified Germany, tied together by its shared Aryan culture. To him, art was another method of control, just like propaganda or the military. As an art school reject himself, Hitler wanted to be viewed as a passionate man who understood and valued art.

A painting of waterlilies by Third Reich approved artist Ludwig Dettmann

But exactly how was Third Reich art classified? Finding a definitive answer to that question can be difficult, since it was based on a complex set of ideals created mainly by Hitler himself and his trusted leaders. For the most part, it was any art that well exemplified Nazi ideals. Anything else was considered degenerate art. Hitler hated modernist and expressionist art, and anything he deemed “not serious” enough to promote his ideas. What was not considered degenerate was usually quite boring and classically academic. Third Reich art promoted power, strength, triumph, and optimism. It often portrayed young, beautiful men and women.

“I will not tolerate unfinished paintings!”- Adolf HItler


Hitler handpicked some artists whose work epitomized Third Reich ideas. Josef Thorak and Arno Breker were two such artists. Their work celebrated ideal beauty and power. Interestingly, Breker had artwork that was branded as degenerate early in his career, yet was still highly favoured by Hitler himself.

Hitler’s ideas about art were accepted by his followers and close advisors, but it’s interesting to look at what three of these men thought of art before they came into close contact with him. Joseph Goebbels collected modern art, which he displayed in his home and office, and like degenerate art pieces. Heinrich Himmler liked mystical tribal German art and Alfred Rosenberg liked romantic art portraying rural life, both of which didn’t fit Hitler’s guidelines. Goebbels and Rosenberg would fully support Third Reich art and denounce degenerate art. Himmler, however, secretly stole valuable (yet condemned) works of art from Hitler throughout the war.

The Great Exhibition of German Art

 Hitler had big plans for art in the Third Reich. His "Great German Art...
A room inside the Great Exhibition of German Art.

The Great Exhibition of German Art

The Great Exhibition of German Art was held in Munich in the summer of 1937, and presented a large collection of Third Reich approved art. The exhibition featured sculptures from Breker, as well as plenty of beautiful, muscular bodies and wild animals. Only a few steps away, across the street, was the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibit, created to mock and degrade degenerate art and artists. Unsurprisingly, the degenerate art drew far more visitors. In the long run, degenerate art would have a much stronger impact than the Third Reich art ever did, since it was progressive, powerful, and modern. Thankfully, our ideas of art are no longer restricted like they were in World War II.

View of sculpture exhibited at the Haus of German Art, n.d.
A crowd of people viewing sculptures at the Exhibition of German Art.








Franz Kline

Franz Kline was born on May 23, 1910. Interested in art from an early age, he studied drawing at Boston University from 1931 to 1935. He continued his studies at the Heatherley School of Art in London. His education provided him with a strong understanding of line that would prove vital in the progression of his work.

After finishing his studies, Kline was working in New York City in the late 1930’s. His art then was a combination of cubism and social realism, depicting objects like chairs in a realistic manner. One day, his friend was showing him his new projector. Kline’s friend projected an enlargement of a small sketch that Kline had drawn in a phone book. When Kline saw the projection, the drawing was so blown up that all that remained was abstract lines and shapes in black and white. From this moment, Kline realized the potential in these abstractions, and turned to abstract expressionism as a new way forward in his art.

Painting Number 2, 1954

Abstract expressionism as a movement was marked by a spontaneous expression of the artists psychic state at the time. Artists were generally dissatisfied with the European tradition of art, and worked to escape its confines. Kline worked on huge canvasses on his floor, forcing himself to work outside of the “normal” restrictions. Using large brushes, he put his whole body into his brushstrokes, which seem to contain so much energy and emotion.

Kline loved working with house paint, something that annoyed his gallerist, Sydney Janis. One night, Janis snuck into Kline’s studio and replaced his inexpensive house paint with professional grade Windsor & Newton paints. The next day, Kline went out and bought new house paint.

Franz Kline, ‘Meryon’ 1960–1
Meryon 1960–1

Why was Kline so enamoured with house paints? For one, they were cheap and not connected to “fine art” in any way. They dry flat and glossy, which appealed to Kline. They were also fluid and fast, allowing Kline to create his long, sweeping brushstrokes. His work is primarily composed of black and white, sometimes with a few other dark colors.

Franz Kline, New York, N.Y. 1953
New York, N.Y. 1953

Kline’s work attracted me because I’ve never really been able to grasp it. People always make the annoying comment, “My 3 year old kid could make that,” and usually in reference to abstract work like Kline’s. However, after researching abstract expressionism and Kline himself, I see how that is unfair and untrue. Kline was not only an extremely accomplished draftsman, he created many studies before he committed to compositions for his pieces. The compositions he achieved were carefully planned and visually attention grabbing. He worked in layers, laying down sweeping strokes of black and adding white around them, often using several different shades of white. He’d then repeat this process many times, building up depth even in the flat nature of his work.

Franz Kline, Bethlehem 1959–60
Bethlehem 1959–60

I find Kline’s work compelling because of its static energy. It is bold. It is a little terrifying. Yet, it seems to contain infinite amounts of emotion and expression. The fact that I never feel like I fully grasp what Kline was feeling when he created his pieces adds to the sense of mystery. Some say that Kline was a very characteristically American artist in the way he thought and worked. I agree with that fact. His works, like most Americans, are brash, loud, confident, and even divisive. Many of them feel like landscapes, perhaps speaking to the vast stretches of farmland the country stands on. Kline also loved New York City, and its impact on him can be seen in much of his art. There is a sense in his work of chaotic, busy space, and bustling energy for change that is contained in dark and dreary surroundings, just like New York City possess. Researching Kline has given me a new desire to understand abstract art and its effects on viewers and the world.

Franz Kline, Black Sienna, 1960 Oil on canvas, 92 ¼ × 68 inches (234.3 × 172.7 cm)
Black Sienna, 1960








Survey 7: Plakatstil Packaging Artifact

For my third “spread”, I got to create an artifact for the Design and Typography category of Survey 7. I was really excited to get to make an artifact, but a bit confused by the lack of research information my group and I were able to gather. I knew I wanted to create a tactile object, not a poster or something flat.

My group and I each researched an important graphic designer. The common thread that tied them all together was their work in the Plakatstil movement. I decided to take this topic and create my object based on the style of the movement.

I ended up making three objects, a tomato can, a jar of cocoa powder, and a pack of cigarettes. These are all objects that were designed and sold back the early 1900’s, but are also still sold today. To put a little spin on it, I decided to pick well known brand names that are retailed today: Hunt’s, Hershey’s, and Lucky Strike, and redesign their packaging in the plakatstil style. I used inspiration from the designers we researched and included them by listing their names on the back of the cigarette pack.

I also decided to include my written portion on the objects themselves, and photographed both their fronts and backs. On the left side of my spread is the written portion on the back of my objects, taken in the photography lab under studio lights. This helped to differentiate it from the left side, which is a photo of the objects staged on a kitchen shelf to give context to the project.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this one turned out and it’s definitely my favourite of the 3 spreads I’ve created in this class.

Self Assessment: 8.5/10.


Survey 9:


The shortest period yet, Survey 9 covered the years 1925 – 1930. In only 5 years, a ton happened. Nowhere was this more true than in Germany, where a HUGELY important design school was growing: the Bauhaus. In 1919, Water Gropius, an architect, founded the school at only 31 years old. The Bauhaus was an arts and crafts school, whose aim was to create beautiful, accessible objects and design. It aimed to “breathe a soul into the dead product of the machine,” and led students to focus on the creative process, making prototypes that could be sold to the manufacturing industry to create real, impactful design. Students at the Bauhaus studied in many disciplines: design, architecture, dance, theatre, photography, furniture design, and more. The school housed many workshops and studios where students could work hands on, learning trades as well as the ideas behind their work. As the school became more widely known and influential, the local government grew uncomfortable. In 1923, Gropius resigned and the school closed. However, unsatisfied with the situation, he began looking for a new city that would be more welcoming to the school. When he found the industrial city of Dessau, a new Bauhaus school was built, designed by the students themselves. The Bauhaus school was closed permanently by the Nazis in 1933, but it was decades ahead of its time and influences the way we think about design to this day.


The man Jan himself!

Phoebus Palast Poster

Jan Tschichold was born on April 2, 1902, in Leipzig, Germany. His father was a sign painter, so Tschichold’s visual arts education began from an early age. From 1919 to 1921, Tschichold attended the Leipzig Academy of Graphic Arts and Book Production, studying calligraphy. This emphasis on type would set him apart from many of his peers, who were trained in fine arts. At the Leipzig Academy, he was treated as an equal by many of his teachers and developed a relationship with another important designer, Paul Renner, who designed the Futura typeface

After school, Tschichold worked as a freelance artist and designer until his understanding of design was completely changed bye the 1923 Bauhaus exhibit. Here, his whole outlook on typography was changed. The expedition introduced him to modernist design, and birthed his love for sans serif fonts. He also saw geometric and asymmetric compositions.


Only a few years later, Tschichold, still captivated with the new ideas of typography he had seen at the Bauhaus, published a special issue in a magazine called “Elementare Typographie”, containing his personal ideas on the matter. He expanded and refined on this in his groundbreaking book, Die neue Typographie (The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers, 1928). In this book he laid out rules of type hierarchy and the idea to standardize paper sizes. The book was sent out to printers and designers all over Europe in an effort to reform typography across the continent.

A page spread from Die Neue Typographie

In 1933, the Nazi party took control of Germany. Tschichold’s ideas about typography and art did not align with their strict ideologies, since his were somewhat similar to Fascism. He and his wife were imprisoned as “Intellectual minorities.” When they were finally released 6 weeks later, they fled, along with their son, to Switzerland.

Sabon typeface, designed by Tschichold

During this time, Tschichold’s ideas began to soften and his perspective on design expanded. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that as he matured, his extreme views on design did too. Another is that he was avoiding the harsh gaze of the Nazi party, who were still on his heels. Either way, Tschichold announced that perhaps he got it wrong, perhaps serif fonts weren’t all that bad, among other things. Many people in the design world were shocked and somewhat offended by this switch of perspective, but since Tschichold was the first in his field to define principles of design, people clung to his early ideas even as he realized it was time to update them.

Tschichold did a lot of important work in his later years. After leaving Germany, he worked as a design consultant for Hoffman-La Roche, a pharmaceutical company. He designed Sabon, a typeface still widely used today. From 1947 to 1949, he worked as a graphic designer for Penguin books in London. Here he developed a design system for Penguin’s new line of books. He created a template for book covers that could be used over and over with any book, establishing a cohesive look for all the titles. These designs remain iconic today, and they were widely copied during his time. Tschichold also published several other influential books on typography and design. He was awarded the prestigious AGIA medal, as well as the Gutenberg Prize of Leipzig for his work in design.

Tschichold’s iconic Penguin book designs in their various iterations

Tschichold once made the (slightly cocky) claim that he was the most influential type designer of his time. As annoying as someone has to be to say that about themselves, Tschichold was right. His impact on typography is, and continues to be huge.




Jan Tschichold

Designer Focus: Jan Tschichold