Supergraphics: Barbara Stauffacher Solomon

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon is best known for her interior Supergraphics of the 1960s Sea Ranch and her 1991 Ribbon of Light installation at the Embarcadero Promenade in San Francisco, her iconic style of mixing Swiss Modernism and West Coast Pop, pioneered the look of the California Cool – an important moment in graphic design history.

Sea Ranch, 1966

At first, she was hired only to create the Sea Ranch’s logo and brochure. In fact, as she reveals in the interview, the now-iconic supergraphics were one of the last elements she designed for the development. The architects had gone way over budget designing the Sea Ranch’s swim and tennis club and they needed a cost-effective signage system. Enter Solomon’s bold, Helvetica-heavy solution, achieved in just a handful of days with just a few coats of paint. The project was later published in Life magazine and gained its popularity.

Sea Ranch, 1966

A joint effort by Barbara Solomon, Vito Acconci, and Stanley Saitowitz, the Promenade Ribbon a 2.5-mile long linear sculpture that wraps along the Embarcadero sidewalk, was completed in 1996.

Punctuated by lighted glass blocks set in paving, it once provided gentle illumination for nighttime passersby. Today, twenty years later, it lights up no more.

A few factors contributed to the darkening. Sea level rise and king tides have resulted in water corroding of Ribbon’s power source. And the fiber optic lights, beautiful when they worked, suffered from water damage caused by the porous nature of concrete.

Sources

https://www.curbed.com/2018/1/3/16842200/barbara-stauffacher-solomon-sea-ranch-supergraphics

https://create.adobe.com/2018/3/28/visions_not_previous.html

https://www.barbarastauffachersolomon.com/pages/about-us

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Stauffacher_Solomon

60s Hero: Martin Sharp

Martin Ritchie Sharp was an Australian artist, cartoonist, songwriter and film-maker. Sharp made contributions to Australian and international culture from the early 1960s, and was called Australia’s foremost pop artist.

His psychedelic posters of Bob Dylan, Donovan and others, rank as classics of the genre. In his most popular designs, the artist embedded letters, photographs, and bizarre cartoon figures into psychedelic patterns.

Sharp’s Album Cover fro Cream

He studied at the National Art School in East Sydney. There, he co-produced a satirical broadsheet, The Arty Wild Oat. Through that project he met Richard Walsh, editor of the University of Sydney’s campus newspaper Honi Soit, and Richard Neville, who edited the University of NSW’s Tharunka.

The three of them soon set up a studio in a former horse stable in The Rocks where they created OZ magazine. It turned undergraduate humour into colourful, biting satire that critiqued conservative society. Sharp’s humorous, often lewd graphic style, was combined with an insistence that the best quality paper was used.

OZ magazine covers

They went on a hippie trip to Asia and decided to go to London right after. Once there they decided London could do with its own version of OZ magazine. It quickly became a counterculture magazine of artistic and political renown. By issue No.3 Martin Sharp’s art direction went psychedelic, selling up to 100,000 copies. OZ London became a graphic design landmark, lasting 48 issues from 1967 to 1973. It was also the subject of the longest obscenity trial in British history.

OZ No.3, 1957

In 2005 Sharp received an Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of service to the arts as a painter and graphic designer, particularly contributing to the POP art movement in Australia and providing support to emerging young artists. In 2012 he received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Visual Arts from the University of Sydney and in 2013 he received a Fellowship from the National Art School.

Sources

https://www.agda.com.au/inspiration/hall-of-fame/martin-sharp/

http://www.artnet.com/artists/martin-sharp/

https://www.martin-sharp.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Sharp

New York School Advertisements: Paul Rand

Born in Brooklyn in 1914, Rand was creative from a young age. He studied art at Pratt Institute in Manhattan and practiced drawing constantly. One of his first jobs was laying out product spreads for Apparel Arts, a popular men’s fashion magazine owned by Esquire. 

Apparel Arts magazine cover, 1939

Soon after that he started doing magazine covers. His work was instantly noticed. By his early 20s, Rand was considered one of the most important designers of his generation.

In 1941, at the age of 27, Rand was named chief art director of the newly-formed ad agency William H. Weintraub & Co. American advertising at the time had changed little since the late 19th Century, especially in terms of how the ads were conceived.

Ordinary 1940s cigarette ad

“Before Paul Rand, the copywriter was the lead,” says Donald Albrecht, the curator of the new exhibition. The copywriter would supply the words—often times a great many of them—and the words would dictate the layout of the ad, often drawn from one of several templates or formats.

Inspired by the bold graphic work being done in Europe, Rand brought a radically different approach to the job. As he saw it, an ad’s effectiveness lay in the way words and images were combined on the page. “Rand’s ads have words and pictures, but they’re all fused into one symbol,” Albrecht says. 

Paul Rand’s Frazer Advertising

Rand introduced a crucial new ingredient into commercial art: form. By paring down copy and breathing white space into his compositions, Rand made his advertisements stand out from the dense copy surrounding them.

Sources

https://www.wired.com/2015/04/paul-rand-visionary-showed-us-design-matters/

https://www.tdc.org/news/paul-rand-exhibition-tour/

https://www.vintag.es/2012/05/vintage-advertisements-from-1940s.html