Nick Adam & Matthew Wizinsky
Archive13: Ritual Posters
Archive13: Ritual Posters
I confess that I saw these in Chicago when I spoke there and I liked them so much I asked them to send me a set. I think they’re rich and unusual, and if they’re worthy of being in my archive, they’re worthy of being here. – Marian Bantjes
Archive13: Ritual Posters
The Chicago Design Archive is a cultural resource archiving the "now-ness" of each year in Chicago's communication design community with design artifacts dating from 1869. Each year, the Archive competition inducts new and excellent examples of contemporary work into the Chicago Design Archive. Co-produced by the STA and AIGA Chicago, Archive13 recognizes, celebrates, and promotes outstanding Chicago design.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Each year, the identity and promotional materials for the Archive competition are created by a new team of design volunteers from the community.
The Archive13 campaign promotes a community-wide design event that unfolds over a full year of activities: submitting your best work, meeting the judges, and celebrating with a gala to open the exhibition of accepted entries. This comprises a series of activities and events that are supported by bursts of visibility made manifest through the program's identity and promotional materials: a robust poster campaign, web site, entry submissions, event swag, and event signage—all building from this year's specific identity and concept. Additionally, the campaign supports Archive's mission of connecting today's best work with history.
Every community creates its own culture. It develops a unique mythology signified by the symbolic codes of the community language, visual representations, pageantry, and rituals. It is only through a belief in, a commitment to and a shared understanding of the common culture will a community thrive. The Archive competition, rich with meaning and metaphor, fulfills this purpose by selecting and celebrating outstanding Chicago design. It holds gatherings to develop kinship and renew the bonds of friendship. It is the annual ritual by which the Chicago design community restores itself and reaches its full expression.
The concept for this year's Archive identity and the resulting posters series is to relate this annual community-based competition to a ritual that unfolds in three stages.
Sacrifice: submitting your work. Judgment: acceptance or rejection by your peers. Worship: celebrating the accepted entries in an exhibition gala for the whole community.
In doing so, we place the efforts of our peers—their blood, sweat, tears, and untold hours of commitment—in a great continuum of ritual mythologies, traversing time, media and cultures.
We took a critical look at what it means to celebrate great design in a manner that addresses all of history while also demonstrating what it means to be working right now. The fact that the project was undertaken by two very different kinds of designers working in collaboration is alone one step toward that now-ness. Nick Adam’s custom typographic work combines aspects of all major visible language systems with a nod toward the contemporary interest in highly geometric letter forms. Matthew Wizinsky created custom software to manipulate low resolution images from the web—images loaded with ritual metaphors from throughout history—and re-purpose these images into a new visual language, brining the images and their stories into the contemporary. We believe this is what graphic design is all about: pulling together constellations of images and language that come pre-loaded with potential meanings, assembled into a specific context to tell new stories. Design’s power to tell significant and meaningful stories is at the root of its purpose. Everything else is tactical. This intersection of history and now-ness, with a pointed focus on design’s capacity to tell powerful stories through images and language, is right where this work originates. Is it specific to Chicago? Not on the surface. But, this work emanates from two Chicago designers loving what they’re doing, working together on a significant project in hopes of bringing all of the Chicago design community together through the ritual of the Archive competition.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Designers today are looking across the globe and throughout history for meaning and inspiration in our work. Because we can. And, we believe, we should. We also have a critical mass of thinkers and makers who are actively shaping contemporary design—not only as a profession but as a mode of cultural production. We have these opportunities to commune with one another such as in the Archive competition along with its associated exhibition, Judge’s Night, and other events. It is in these moments where we meet in person and have face to face dialogue about what we’re doing, what we aspire to do, and what it could all mean.This is where Chicago design is defined—in the embodied human interactions of the local design community: young and old, aspiring, emerging, recognized, and everything in between. The Archive is an annual ritual that combines these two critical aspects that define the local design community: a significant historical/cultural record and celebratory events bringing together everyone working here right now.
The Archive13 concept, identity, and promotional materials are intended to encourage participation in the Chicago Design Archive in the broadest sense: submitting excellent work to be considered for the archive, creating and participating in a vital community, building local and external awareness of historic and contemporary Chicago design and designers, and documenting all of this activity for posterity.