Vladimir I. Lenin was a driving force behind the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became the first great dictator of the Soviet Union.Read More
In January 2018, the College Book Arts Association held their annual conference in Philadelphia. One of the events was an exhibition with some interesting requirements.Read More
Three staff from the library at the University of Colorado / Boulder were headed to the College Book Arts Association Conference in Philadelphia. They emailed to ask if they could jump over a day early and do a Lead Graffiti workshop. We looked up their library's holding and saw out they had a deluxe clamshell copy of our Boxcar Poems 1 - 12, a meander book, we did a couple of years ago.Read More
When Ray was teaching University-level design courses in creative thinking, he loved utilizing a textbook entitled The Universal Traveler. It broke creative problem-solving and creative thinking into 7 energy states. We decided to turn part of that into a workshop that turned out to be fun.Read More
Maybe we can't get Stephen Hawking, but we should be able to get someone who at least has won the Nobel Prize.Read More
Our good friend, Christine, came to the studio to do her holiday card. We loved it so much we asked if we could use it as the basis for our Lead Graffiti card.Read More
In the movie, The Last Jedi, there was a very nice reference to The Sacred Jedi Texts, shown in the movie still above. We're wondering who got the chance to make those. We thought we might get the chance to make a book that would be used in a Miller Lite commercial once. Ended up not happening, but it was nice thinking about it.Read More
It is always interesting to see what someone does when they come in without any notion of what it is that they want. Typically, we will decide among the participants as to colors. For this workshop, the colors were silver and teal.Read More
I stumble across printed samples and photos of some work that was part of my life back in my Visual Communications days. One of the perks that came from being a designer working for clients and doing a lot of printing work (and I tended to work with only 1 or 2 printers) was that I could leverage those printers into printing VC stuff for free.
Year-End Show poster / 1979
If there was a creative moment that I personally started to think that the design program could have national recognition it was with this piece. It was the copy more than the design of the piece. The text which I wrote on the bus coming back from a New York field trip. This is where the idea of the review process to get into the program originated. The text reads...
In the beginning there are 60 sophomores.
They come as designers, illustrators
typographers and design consultants.
It was more difficult than they imagined.
These sophomores are still with us.
The 60 become 30.
Those that leave, leave for a number
of reasons: the work, the field,
the pressure, just to do something else.
Those that stay, stay for the same reasons.
These juniors are still with us.
The 30 become 15.
The reasons are still the same
but the reward becomes greater.
The excitement of the field becomes
a part of their work.
Finally they become the designers, illustrators,
typographers and design consultants they
thought they started as.
These are the seniors that have stayed.
Several people have complained about the calendars not being useful and that they should be more gridlike. I suspect they were talking about some of my more experimental months over the past several years.Read More
Lead Graffiti will represent Delaware in a [HAS HEART] project. Once the 18-month journey is complete, the 50+ designs and their stories will be compiled and published into a coffee table book, curated into a traveling art museum exhibit, and produced into a collection of American-made consumer products whose proceeds will benefit the Veterans who co-designed them.Read More
One of the participants did a "Fiddler on the Roof" typographic treatment in one of our H.N. Werkman Creative Letterpress workshops. Seemed like a strange theme at the time.Read More
The members of the Upper Chesapeake Book Arts Group, which started a year ago, had a collective exhibition at The Palette and the Page gallery in Elkton, MD. Lead Graffiti was a major contributor in 4 of the books in the exhibit.Read More
We are trying to collect together our favorite portraits we’ve taken of people who print via letterpress. We’ll keep adding to this over time.Read More
Jill and Deborah Arnold are working on a collaborative artists book about the Chesapeake Bay. In the photo above you can see them locking up the wood type that will overprint a 16" x 24" map of the Chesapeake which will form the base image of the text block.Read More
Actor Vincent Price and Ray Nichols were sitting on the living room couch and Vincent asked, "Want to hear about The Pit and the Pendulum?" Yeah, this is going to be a moment.Read More
We were commissioned by a group of students to create an edition of 6 clamshells for the Printmaking Club at the Anne Arundel Community College, just south of Baltimore.Read More
The following is the text of my introduction
First a few things about Stephen Frykholm.
His career as a graphic designer began in 1966 after 2 years in Aba, Nigeria with the Peace Corps at a trade school for girls. He learned silkscreen to teach at the school. That skill would later serve as the basis of his most famous body of creative work.
After returning to the States, Stephen completed his MFA at Cranbrook. Shortly after that, Stephen began his career working for designer John Massey, in Stephen’s words, as a “design custodian,” within a new in-house graphic design group at Herman Miller in Zeeland, Michigan. Within a few months of being hired as he was asked to design the poster for the company’s annual picnic, that year titled the “Sweet Corn Festival.” Each year for the next 20 years he designed the 29” x 39” posters. The permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art includes these posters. It was nice to get started collecting them in the early days.
Some 47 years later, Frykholm is still at the famed furniture company. He has been the recipient of numerous awards from the AIGA, the New York Art Directors Club, and American Center for Design, Communication Arts, Graphis, and Print. His work has been widely published and has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Renwick Gallery, and the Danish Museum of Decorative Art. In 2010 he was awarded the AIGA Medal.
I would now like to take the opportunity of being offered this forum to talk about how Stephen changed my life and the life of Visual Communications students at the University of Delaware.
In 1979 or 1980 we successfully entered a poster promoting our year-end student show to the Art Directors Club. The exhibition was held on the second floor of the Lever House on Park Avenue in New York City. We could see the poster from the sidewalk. On the same wall hung the barbeque chicken picnic poster Stephen produced for Herman Miller. To say this was a BILLBOARD moment in my creative life would be an understatement.
Around 1982 we invited Stephen to talk to our program. We were hand-painting 4’ x 36’ banners promoting events, stretched across the front of our small building. The image for Stephen’s talk was the watermelon picnic poster. After his talk, we rolled it up, and he took it back to Herman Miller where he says he still has it.
It is often said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and I would like to take the opportunity to fess up to a couple of my imitations of his work.
Around 1983 or 84 Visual Communications was taking 2 field trips each semester to New York, often coordinated with design-related exhibitions at AIGA or the Art Directors Club. Once I was talking to Nathan Gluck at the AIGA Gallery, where there were dozens of massive cardboard boxes strewn across the gallery. He said it was rejected work for the AIGA design show. I asked, “What do you do with them?” “We throw them away.”
“What if I threw them away for you?”
He said, “Sure.” I yelled for the bus drivers to stop and got the 80 students to grab all of the boxes and shove them inside the buses. We repeated this annually for more than a decade.
One of those “rejected” pieces was a poster series with an odd surface and a very odd velvety black. A phone call to Stephen explained things. It was a blueprint poster. Stephen said contact print a positive film image (black and clear) to blackline blueprint paper and run it through the machine with its ammonia bath, and you’ve got a poster. In Delaware we were connected to Dupont who gave us all of the 30” x 40” Cronolith film we wanted, so we were suddenly in the blueprint poster business.
We bought a blueprint machine and over the next decade made hundreds of posters and won dozens of design awards posted on student résumés.
"Thank you, Stephen."
One of the most often imitated pieces of Stephen’s work was the 1985 Herman Miller annual report showing individual photos of every employee, no matter seniority or job description. I stole that twice.
Jill and I produced a 300-page hardback book, Histories of Newark, Delaware: 1758 - 2008. One of the design elements was a 1.5” citizen band of townies running from cover to cover. 3,900 of them. It is one of my favorite 2 projects ever, and we did it when I was 61.
"Thank you, Stephen."
Jill and I also produced an annual report for Hagley Museum which was supposed to promote the accessibility of the museum. As some clients often do just to trick you, they handed us a stack of photos to use that had nothing to do with accessibility. We ended up presenting the original photos as large artwork and adding small photos of all sorts of visitors appearing to view them as though in an exhibition. Ahhh, accessibility.
"Thank you, Stephen."
I’d like to think Rose DiSanto, who was at Stephen’s first talk at the University of Delaware, for giving me the chance to be able to say this finally.
"Thank you, Stephen."
I’ve heard Stephen say, “When you design something, you need to ask the question “What’s next? And what’s next?”
So, a question now to Stephen Frykholm.