[Emily Potts] Last week we were inspired by three amazing artists: Henning Wagenbreth, Sophie Dutertre and Placid. In keeping with the French artist theme, I’m starting off this week’s Creative Chain with an illustrator I deeply admire and respect.
I first met Yann Legendre (Paris, France) in 2010, when he and Lance Rutter were sharing a loft studio in Chicago under the moniker Legendre + Rutter. The place was filled with big, beautiful posters exhibiting Legendre’s fluid, trademark style. I was also fortunate enough to peek inside one of his many sketchbooks lying around the studio and see how he captured his thoughts and observations. He makes it look so effortless, but in reality very few people have this talent. Legendre moved back to Paris with his new wife late in 2011. I was sad to see him go, but I am able to keep up with him and his work through social media.
There’s something really dynamic and wonderful going on in this poster image that Legendre created for Mindy Segal, owner and pastry chef of Chicago’s Hot Chocolate. She commissioned him to design this poster for the restaurant’s sixth anniversary event, which was titled 666. Yann says, “Mindy is extremely talented as a chef and she is a bad ass … she wanted the event to be good as hell, so when the poster is turned upside down, one can make out the face of a devil.” Brilliant. Production notes: The poster is 24 x 36 in., silkscreened in four spot colors, and only 200 were printed.
The Cheese Monkeys
I have a copy of The Cheese Monkeys signed by Chip Kidd — a novel I quickly devoured on a flight layover — so I was pleasantly surprised to see this new, illustrative take on the cover design. A few years ago, a publisher friend of Legendre’s decided to translate the book into French. Of course he asked Legendre to design the cover, which Yann did enthusiastically, as it was the first novel he read in English after moving to the U.S. several years ago. “I submitted the cover to Chip before printing, and he loved it,” he says.
In his own words, Yann Legendre is inspired by …
You can classify Martin Venezky (@mvenezky) of Appetite Engineers (San Francisco) as a graphic designer, but for me, he is a poet. Martin collects every little piece of paper, sticker, typography, shapes, etc., that he finds in his environment to compose his visual poetry. I read his images as I would read a poem from Beckett, Rainer Maria Rilke, Bukowski or Faulkner. They are not just what they are made for, they are what they are made with — and here is the key to understanding Martin’s work: The vernacular elements that compose the pieces are as important individually as the whole composition itself. With Martin’s work, you also understand what you see in the format, and what is around it … on his table, on his studio, on his city, on his country, on his universe, in his mind.
Tulane School of Architecture poster
Tulane University’s New Orleans campus had to temporarily shut down because of damage from Hurricane Katrina. Martin created this poster as a hand-constructed collage to inspire the architecture students to help rebuild New Orleans upon their return to the school. The vocabulary that he uses to compose this energetic poster, as with all his images, touches me, sometimes giving me vertigo.
Studio collage at Appetite Engineers
This image of a wall of artifacts in Martin’s studio appeared as a foldout in his book, It is Beautiful … Then Gone. He surrounds himself with the artifiacts and elements he designs with, sometimes by grouping them by color and shapes or based on content, such as birds, sky, stripes, type, etc.
In his own words, Martin Venezky is inspired by …
I first encountered Ed Fella’s work in issue 17 of Emigre Magazine. That was in 1991, and the simpleton that I was then just didn’t get it. Everything seemed off — mismatched, irregular, tangled and confusing. I couldn’t understand why someone would want to make work like this or why someone would want it made. But I kept returning to those pages. For me, they were magnetic and alive. Eventually, as I learned Ed’s full story — his years as a self-labeled “hack,” his return to school, his intense hand-driven process and the magnitude of his output — I’ve come to love and admire the work and the artist deeply. So important has his work been to me, that I would use my rising appreciation as evidence of advancement in my own visual sophistication.
Today I consider Ed Fella (Los Angeles) the most unburdened and adventurous artist working in the intersection of design, typography and drawing. Ed’s practice is a perfect example of discovery through making, and making as a way of seeing, documenting and living. He plays with the form of language as well as language itself. He plays with materials and bounces among disciplines. His work is simultaneously contemporary and old fashioned, and completely outside of time and its constraints.
More than anything, Ed’s success has given me permission to treat design as an artistic practice, with each work building on its predecessors, and allowed me not to feel obliged to look over my shoulder and copy what others are doing but to forge my own eccentric, rambling path forward.”
It is impossible to single out any particular work from Ed’s massive output. It’s the accumulated body of his work as a whole that is so spectacular. That being said, I see in every one of Ed’s creations a summation of all his influences and skills. This 1987 poster shows an astonishing appreciation for type’s fluidity and flexibility. It is a luddite combination of drawing, collage and photostat manipulation, but it is more advanced than what most type designers would create in the next two decades using digital means. In a single page, in a single color, Ed has created a complete world of logic and structure.
This is Fella’s identity for this summer’s Works From California/Prace Z Kalifornie, an exhibition curated by Jon Sueda for the 25th International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno, Czech Republic. The work is distinctive, memorable and joyful. And once again, there is no capitulation on Ed’s part to contemporary form. Ed’s continued archaic practice of hand-drawn, cut, and pasted parts allow the work to hover outside of time altogether. This, too, is a complete flexible world of form and content.
Tune in next Wednesday to see who Ed Fella will choose as his inspiration.
Take a look at the complete chain any time.
All line art portraits created by Fred Schaub.