The DART Board: Graphics Update

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday June 24, 2021

The American Institute of Graphic Arts [AIGA] places book design high on its list of legacy commitments. In fact, its very first design competition, launched in 1923, was Fifty Books of the Year. In 1995, it became 50 Books | 50 Covers, in recognition of the many illustrated books flowing into the market. 

This year’s competition netted 696 entries from 36 countries; the jurors saw a notable trend towards handwriting and hand illustrated covers which art directors turned to when pandemic restrictions impacted book design workflows. Design credits here Note: One more at Notes From Home Office, below

“What. A. Year. Books became our best friends as we curled up near the fireplace seeking comfort in something familiar. We celebrate the best of the best designs that drew us into the written pages.
 – Gail Anderson, Jury Chair

This year’s competition was juried by Gail Anderson (chair), Jennifer Morla, Paul Sahre, and Kelly Walters, who weighed entries on factors including concept, innovation, and visual elements such as typography, illustration, and information design. View the winners here

Selections from past competitions have been added to the AIGA Design Archives—one of the richest online resources available to those who practice, study, and appreciate great design.


Anita Kunz on the Pandemic Lockdown

Anita Kunz, a Toronto-based artist and illustrator, took a proactive view of the pandemic lockdown. In a recent interview for The New Yorker she said, “I was locked up for fifteen months. What else could I do but a painting a day?”

She dug into a series of portraits of unsung women. “It was easy to research. There are so many in every field,” she joked. She showed some of the finished paintings to the graphic designer Chip Kidd, who gave her the upper limit of 150 for a book proposal.

By September of 2020 she reached the limit, and Kidd helped her secure a contract with Pantheon. Left: Self-Portrait as Albrecht Durer for Another History of Art, due this Fall

Since then, Kunz has painted “at least another hundred....They’re small, sixteen inches high at the most, and all the same size. They’re easy to pack in a box. I now have boxes of them,” she said. The compilation, Original Sisters, will be published in November, with a foreword by Roxane GayMore



LA Murals by LatinX Artists

Last weekend, California’s KCET collaborated with editors from Hyperllergic in a special edition of the art and culture initiative, Artbound that celebrates the history of graphic design and social activism in the region. 

One of the most eyepopping pages features signs and murals created by LA LatinX artists. 

In a vibrant photo essaySamanta Helou Hernandez captures the signage of storefronts in the Latinx enclaves of Los Angeles. The hand-painted signs and murals, Hernandez writes, “create a sense of place and belonging for residents.”

She featured the work of Emilio Carillo, a construction worker who came to the US from El Salvador 24 years ago and began painting storefronts for new friends who owned small businesses. His most well-known work [above], painted 12 years ago, is on the side of an apartment building in Pico-Union.

Carrillo, a 63-year-old construction worker and self-taught painter, doesn’t make a living off of his art, but it’s a gift he’s had since childhood when he would create intricate drawings on chalkboards for school lessons. more


Tuesday, June 29 | Online

Typographics 2021, hosted online this year by Type@Cooper, continues through July 1. One of the upcoming Talks that caught my eye is Threads: Writing and Graphic Systems Embedded in African Textiles, with Fungi Dube. From the website: Typically, writing systems are methods of visually representing verbal communication and are based on a script and set of rules that regulate their use

This presentation spotlights African textiles and the significance that they have as a form of communication, information storage and transfer. Other than the historical and spiritual significance they hold not only in the choice of colours, dyes, and threads; they also incorporate symbols and figural compositions which are directly linked to proverbs and elements and therefore represent another dimension of story-telling that takes the place of the written word. More 

See Dube’s IG post for Africa Day @fungidubegraphics

This talk is scheduled to take place online, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at 12:00 in your current time zone (EDT/UTC-4), as part of the main Typographics conference. Conference registration is available on a pay-what-you-can basis.


Notesfrom the Home Office

American Illustration and American Photography [AI-AP], the parent of DART, recently announced the AP37 winning images, with an online slideshow where you can see the 416 images selected to be in the forthcoming printed annual award book, presenting the best in photography from 2020.

Another 534 professional and 27 student images were chosen to be included in the online collection. All photographers, jurors, creatives and their friends will be honored at The Party—LIVE again on Thursday, November 11th. Save the date and plan to be there! Info All AP37 winning images now appear online in The Archive starting in November.

The AP37 jury: Arem Duplessis, Jury Chair, Group Creative Director, Apple Inc.;  Brian Bantog, Design Director, Nike; Stella Blackmon, Photo Editor, New York Magazine;  Jane E. Clark, Photography Director, AARP Media; Vida Cornelious, Executive Creative Director, T Brand Studio/The New York Times; Leslie dela Vega, Director of Visuals, OZY;  Natalia Jimenez, Photo Editor, The Washington Post; Gianmaria Schonlieb, Creative Director, Lyft;  Philip Brian Tabuas, Photo Editor, Bloomberg Business; Ronda Thompson, Creative Director, Bed Bath and Beyond

In addition, last year's American Photography 36 and American Illustration 39 [above, selected for AIGAs 50 Books | 50 Covers 2020], which were temporarily derailed due to censorship issues, are finally available. A limited number of discounted copies remains at 40% off the cover price. Order Here!