At this point in my design career, the execution and software knowledge have become second nature – but my own personal visual aesthetic remains elusive. I recognize that my own work is very utilitarian and basic when it comes to visuals. Anytime a visual artist is able to combine utility with artistic exploration, I am impressed. Marian Bantjes is one fine example of that.
Tucked inside of a special edition Fader Magazine with a feature on “Jerry Garcia: American Beauty” was beautifully rendered typography and a two-page graphic showcasing people who had both influenced and been influenced by Mr. Garcia. The opening spread featured this hand-rendered typography.
The article was coupled with black and white photography of Jerry Garcia in his personal life and his career on the road with the Grateful Dead. A digital version of that article can be found here on the Fader website. The filigree that composes the letter forms is reminiscent of the decorative nature of the art nouveau movement. This treatment was carried through to Bantjes’ infographic:
This graphic appeared in the May/June 2007 print edition of Fader Magazine.
It’s complexity provides the viewer with an opportunity for exploration and discovery. Traditional news graphics exist to provide viewers information and visuals to be consumed quickly and efficiently. I appreciate this graphic because you can spend 5 to 10 to 60 minutes appreciating its beauty and content.
This graphic provides information on horizontal, vertical and radial axes but maintains a symmetrical balance. As a viewer navigates down the graphic, they are taken through a implied timeline of the Jerry Garcia’s life. Dates and times are unnecessary, but progression is implied.
The theme of this graphic is repeated time and time again in the art and music worlds. It is a theme that I try to embrace in my own life.
Our lives are a reflection of those that have impacted us and conversely … those that we impact. Nothing more, nothing less.
This graphic could have shown all of Jerry Garcia’s accomplishments as a solo performer and leader of the Grateful Dead, but it instead chose to show how he became and how his legacy has lived on. In doing so, the graphic transcends a traditional presentation of information to become a tribute to the many lives that are placed within the content. The color palette is simple, but pays homage to the psychedelic movement.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME:
I am not sure how long this graphic took to create. Personally, I feel that I could replicate this style through pure execution. However, I am more concerned with whether I have it in me to concept a piece like this. Conceptual thought seems to fly under the radar in our industry, but is something that should be valued more than technical skill. I only wish the IT department could host classes in how to develop conceptual thought.
That’ll be the day.