I have recently given a speech in the club Coffee & Project about how my mediaprojects are done. I talked about Projector, Antiqua , ART1 and various lecture-exhibition-event cases. I called the speech «How to be a founder, publisher, senior editor, art-director, head a studio, run projects, teach, travel, write articles, not to get crazy and enjoy life at the same time». Analysing the questions I got after the speech I understood that the question «How?» was left without the answer. All the processes are definitely going ahead, but the audience wanted me to clue some mysteries of self-motivation and planning the working process. I can tell I started considering these questions not long ago, just before a routine trip to British Higher School of Art and Design, where I twice a year give workshops in terms of graphic design intensive courses.
Several days before the trip I woke up in dismal mood — I totally wasn’t looking forward to going to Moscow. I told Nika (my wife, you know…) I was tired and didn’t feel like having that trip, and hard times of teaching eight-nine hours a day were ahead. She answered: What did you agree for? And I asked myself: why do I always get into different issues which disturb my peace, quiet and comfort? Sure, it’s easier not to do this. Moreover, my life won’t make a loss of comfort at all. Maybe, to the contrary, a couple of days I’ll be sleeping enough.
No way! I never miss a chance to start another interesting adventure like presenting my own TV show (read about it in the column «Was/Will Be»). This seems not to be paid, and it’s a hard work, and it takes time — what is it then for? But, having come up with the question of self-motivation, I saw that I always learn something new from every project, even being a teacher myself. The sportsmen will understand me — training can’t be easy, you must tear yourself into pieces in order to achieve a certain result. You’ll never succeed if you pity yourself.
So, I understood that each time, making myself take up a new project, without clear seeing how to release it, I bar the way to retreat. A promise is a promise! You can’t surrender even if you really want. Only this way, through constant overwork, I manage to break the back of my laze and slovenliness. As soon as I feel I’ve started relaxing — I need to invent a new responsibility: do you have free time? Here you are!
I know one more feature of myself — I always procrastinate everything, it’s really difficult for me to start doing something. And the best antidot is putting myself within very strict limits of the size and terms of work. When you don’t have time for «acclimatization» and smooth entering the project, you willy-nilly start working hard from the very beginning. After a time, any long-term project acquires inertial force and requires less work, which means it’s high time I started something else.
And if this had happened by itself and unconsciously before, Nika’s question: «What did you agree for?» made me look at the situation from the outside and try to crearly articulate this thesis for myself.
Surely, it’s scary to do something you haven’t done before. Yes, it’s frightening to take up projects whose scale exceeds your earlier experience, but «scary» doesn’t mean you should turn it down. On the contrary, for me this is a sign that I need to enter the process. And if you feel you’ll easily cope with the task, it’s very likely you’ve already grown out of it. Only by constant rising the level of difficulty and putting yourself into uncomfortable conditions you can move forward. The clock is ticking!
Projector № 1(26) 2014
I’m still wearing smooth the changes in the prototype and trying Mr. Palkerson in different pointtypes. The cover was being designed, as it always happens, the very last moment. At handing-over I was so impressed with the serial number of the issue that I put 26 to the full height of the cover. And the color — wow, — I want color outrage, so that one could have a look at the cover for a couple of seconds and then close their eyes and enjoy the inverted visual afterimage.
This issue is also important to me, except the publications, for it’s in a way keynote «editor’s column». I seem to have finally managed to define the things which are quite significant to me. Everyone interested is welcome to read it either in a paper or electronic version.
Project № 1 «Personification» is continuing Pavel Ulyanov’s series about the great Italians of the ХХ centuty. This time it’s Сarlo Mollino. «He was enchanted with immortality, and he recognized art as the key to it. After Mollino’s death there were found two thousand erotic Polaroid pics taken by him. He had always admired the beauty of a female body, whose smooth curves are vivid in the outlines of the furniture by him. Carlo Mollino still remains one of the most mysterious design legends of the ХХ century. Researchers and collectors’great interest towards his art is up to nowadays relentless. This is Carlo Mollino’s table designed in 1949 which the auction record price for a piece of the XX century furniture belongs to — it was sold at Christie’s in 2005 for $ 3,8 million».
The outstanding British graphic artist Jonathan Barnbrook has visited Saint-Petersburg with a lecture about his works. I couldn’t miss the star’s visit and, before he showed his projects in the Hermitage, I got a large interview with him: «Graphic design always bears an imprint of fashion on itself. I’d never do the job only to get into some relevant trends. I work just because I put some intelligent content into the project. I believe it’s important not to think of how to complete the project, but to ask yourself constantly: why I’m working in exactly this way. Probably, this is not the answer to the question about the future. However, this is about your personal future. These days I’m woried with the fact that we’re getting too commercialized. I drean the designers to have a variety of projects to choose from. Working just for money is boring».
Long ago I wanted to make a publication about Erken Kagarov, but the idea came true only in the 26th issue of Projector. As you know, a couple of years ago Erken became one of art-directors of Artemiy Lebedev studio, but I found it more interesting to talk not about current projects, but to look a little bit back at the time when Erken worked for the Design Development center in Perm and his even earlier years. «The 1980-s. A handful of professionals who refuse illustration and believe in design. The 1990-s. Total disarray, criminals and amateurs make the professionals make it all in a rich manner. Everybody is a designer, from a programmer to an engineer. The 2000-s. Things are really cooking, the profession may bring money, branding gives more than design, so everybody does branding. And nowadays everything is getting OK step by step. I mean, it’s coming to the world standards. Big agencies neighbor with cool graduates, there are a lot of talents, and everyone gradually finds their niche. <…> Russian design has its special features — hyperattention to the plot, being literary and explainable. It has more dense and «juicy» eurhytmics and active compositional structure. This is what the best works have. The worst ones have the same, but excessive, screaming and noisy». Well, and I wanted to illustrate the interview with the cover of the magazine [kAk) of 1999 with the portrait of Erken on it.
Some time ago I saw on Facebook the photo of Yuriy Gulitov, looking at me from behind a lightbox with a type poster by him somewhere in Paris. What is the new strory of the old and well-known type? Yuriy Gulitov will tell us how his Calligraphic envaded street advertising of Paris in the project №3 «Lettering».
Next comes the project №4 «Item». Pavel Ulyanov tells about one of the objects from his collection — the armchair by the designer George Nakashima: «I first saw this chair in a private collection in Holland. It was situated among the most valuable exhibits, and stood out even against the background of them. Its Japanese origin was vivid. The wood and its carving quality were just perfect! Solid bars of walnut of etraordinary beautiful texture formed a polyhedron in section, and the side facetes resembled of a rake of a samurai’s katana. That was the masterpiece by George Nakashima — the chair Conoid of the year 1947».
keep telling about our co-project Light show with the company Artlight. This publication shows two light pipes— desk-top and wall-mounted. By the way, all the project is going to be displayed in May at the exhibition Art of Light on the grounds of the Guild of Designers. «This is not the modernists’ statement of the «functional beauty» at all. This is the story of the beautiful content. Even more — this is about self-irony and a good-humored mocking at design itself, when a pure idea gets the leading role, and its embodiment depends on the set of coincidenсes a lot. We don’t have 3D-renders before producing another lamp for the collection, trial-and-error is the method for us! And even if the lamp in the end looks slightly different from the original idea, this is the ground for possible thinking it over again».
For the project №5 «Environment» Maria Elkina has interviewed the architect Totan Kuzembaev. Totan is a fantastic woodcarver. Nobody else of Russian architects is likely to combine traditional material and sharp relevant architectural solutions in such a manner. «It only seems that wood puts you within the limits and you can make more of concrete. Actually, you can make any curve of wood. It’s not less «tame» than concrete. The ones who reject wood also like to say it burns. This isn’t completely true either. If all engineering systems have been properly constructed, there’s nothibg to burn. This is the question of how professionally and thoroughly you have designed and embodied everything».
The project №7 «Photography» gives an alternative point of view on Pavel Ulyanov, the gallerist, design historian, editor of Antiqua and constant author for Projector. He’s also a cool photographer, an adept of monochromatic tape and manual printing. «I finish every photo manually using the moist method — when the print is lying on the printing table and the development happens while printing. In other words, you can control it, in contrast to the usual masking method, when you select masks by probing, but see the result only in the end<…> Printing must always be complete, through and cadred. I believe that framing while shooting is a significant criteria to a photographer. It’s important to think over the composition at the moment when you still can change something».
In terms of the project №8 «School» Sergey Helmyanov speaks of «space design», namely of the tools to be used in space, which were designed in Mukha (Saint-Petersburg Art and Industry Academy dedicated to Vera Mukhina). «The designers were just the students, and the ones engaged on degree thesis, the teachers at Mukha who have conducted a vast amount of research and development work for the past fifteen years of collaboration with the scientific-production association Energy. Urgent everyday problems were being solved, promising fields were being researched, and large experience and number of embodied projects was made. The funds of design faculty at Mukha still carefully keep the models and prototypes of workshop bays and tools for out-of-the-spaceship activities of an astronaut, which illustrate the article». The reason why we published this is the exhibition where these legendary prototypes were displayed.
Next in Projector there’s one more «School» and at the same time very professional project — Oksana Paley’s diploma thesis for the festival Territory. Oksana and her thesis curator Leonid Slavin tell about the work. «When the customer approved the conception, my diploma turned out to be a real commission. At the end of July I defended my thesis, and the festival was being held in October. Further on, I was offered to collaborate with the festival just after the defence, particularly to develop the polygraphy and the design of the souvenirs on the basis of the diploma, to work over the general idea and every tiny detail. For me, it was especially important to embody the project exactly as I had designed it —inside out».
In the project №9 «Books» we’re «watching» next chapter of the series by Michail Karasik about the masterpieces of book design of the 1920-1930-s. In this issue you can read about Izostat. «The method of graphic statistics was taken homeback in 1919, but during next decades its significance grew up dramatically: «There’s no such a club, propaganda room, village reading-room, school where diagrams weren’t being made and established. Showcases of the shops, walls of the buildings and even whole squares are decorated with diagrams by the historic days and anniversaries». By the end of the 1920s «the old methods of statistics diagrams shaped as curves, columns, circles or undescriptive images, which lacked political and class consciousness, didn’t manage to solve the tasks of the statistics data popularization», so a more obvious and convincing graphic system became essentially needed».
I dedicate the ninth issue of the magazine ProArt within Projector completely to the inventory of Saint-Petersburg art-spaces. The series by the author Danila Shiryaev and the photographer Michail Grigiryev started at our portal ART1 last autumn. By today, our reporters have been to at least a dozen of the most noticeable art-spaces which influence the culture landscape of Saint-Petersburg. It’s not a secret that the pioneer of the loft-campaign here in the city was the Loft-Project ETAZHI, where our editorial board happily and busily spent almost three years. Many of today’s start-ups take ETAZHI as a model. This article doesn’t read anything about the space Architect in Millionnaya street, Triangle at the Obvodny canal embankment and several more curious places. This means, the inventory is to be continued in next issue.