Sunday, April 25, 2010

Designer Profile & Interview: Bud Rodecker

Through a series of small-world, small-city happenings, I recently stumbled upon the work of Chicago graphic designer Bud Rodecker. I was struck by the poster he and John Pobojewski had produced for Printervention at the design studio Thirst (with direction from Rick Valicenti).

Screen print, printed at The Post Family with help from Ina Weise.

The statement, the type manipulation, and the slyly silly gradation in the smiles on the faces, programmed by John Pobojewski, are all striking, and it made me want to know more about his work. Bud kindly agreed to answer some of my questions, and offered some interesting insights into his work, shared in italicized excerpts below.

Bud holding an incarnation of one of Nick Adam's awesome We/ Us= USA prints at the Printervention opening.

Bud Rodecker, a 2007 Graphic Design graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, ventured to Chicago in the summer of 2007 for an internship at Thirst, an internationally-recognized design collaborative. He's stuck around ever since.

What brought you to Chicago?

I came directly down from school for an internship at Thirst. How I got that internship is kind of a funny story. Rick came to lecture at my school my senior year. I shared some of my work with him, I also made a poster for his lecture. After his lecture was over I went up to him and said "I'm going to graduate in May and I'm going to ask you for an internship." To which he said "If you ask me I'll give you one." (Of course my professors had already set the stage for this) So in June I moved down to Chicago. After the summer I was lucky enough to stay on as a full time employee.

Rick Valicenti lecture poster, found here. Poster is student design work by Rodecker, based on the cover of Valicenti's 2005 monograph "Emotion As Promotion", seen below.

What kind of design work were you doing in college, and what do you notice has changed or evolved from your academic background since you've been working for Thirst? How does your background in photography tie in?

I really focused on print design in college, but even then, like now, I did a little bit of everything. I remember Rick giving me critique when he came to visit, telling me I was really good at making images, but my typography was lacking. If something has changed it's been a growing emphasis on typography. You can actually see my old work here. Compare that with my new work, [and] you can probably see a difference. Plus I was a really sloppy designer in school, as is everyone I think.

Student design work/play by Rodecker, found here.

Student design work/ play by Rodecker, found here.

Student design work/ play by Rodecker, found here.

If you really want a trip back in time, you can check out my time machine. I've been making websites since I was 14, and a couple years ago I collected them all in one place. There is a little caption below that tells when I did them. They're awful and I'm pretty embarrassed that I'm sharing them.

My photography [found here] has always played a role in my design and my creative output. It seems to be my go to when I'm looking to make some personal work, it also informs my sense of composition. Plus I love it.

How did you become involved with Printervention? Did you do the type for the poster, and do you enjoy hand-lettering type?

John Pobojewski was invited to participate in Printervention and he asked me if I wanted to do it. So we agreed to collaborate on a poster together. Our process involved brainstorming together and sketching out our ideas. [...] In fact, this drawing was the original inspiration for the background of the poster:

John wrote a script to generate the faces in the background, they fill the space and go from no expression to smiling at the bottom. I used another script he had previously wrote to generate some faceted typography which I then tugged and pulled until it was just right. I do enjoy drawing letterforms, and I customize my typefaces whenever possible.

AW font, collaborative design between Rodecker and Valicenti.

Garland type face, collaborative design between Rodecker and Valicenti.

How do you stay connected to what's going on in terms of design and art in Chicago? Do you try to maintain a connection to other cities/ scenes?

More and more I feel part of the design culture in Chicago. I've met lots of people over the past few years, and made some really good friends. The Chicago scene is so welcoming and friendly. Everyone is really happy lend a hand and share critique. I don't have much of a connection of design in other cities. I have a friend who works at Pentagram and I have lots of friends from school in Minneapolis, but that's as far as it goes. I do keep an eye on the work coming out of other studios though.

Can you talk a little bit about your RicharDaily project? Where did the idea come from? Is invoking the mayor's name political or just silly? Why sell the work?

Tidbits from Rodecker's side project, RicharDaily.

The name is both a play on the mayor's name and my given name of Richard. It's also just goofy.

RicharDaily started as a way to kick me out of my laziness and get myself back into the creative mode. It seemed the right way to get me going again. Posting the items for sale gives me an extra incentive to actually make something real. If not I can quickly see myself ending up with a bunch of digital printouts. I have been selling a few pieces here and there. It's really great to have people get excited about my work and take it home with them.

Of course the work on RicharDaily relates to my 3st work. They can't help but interact with each other.

I was pretty inspired by Rick Valicenti’s
Notes to Self project. Watching him make that body of work and working on the book and site for it really pushed me to want to make something. So here I am, making 365 things in 2010.

Rick Painting Some Notes to Self from thirst / a design collaborative on Vimeo.

Bud Rodecker discusses his contributions to the Curiosities show from thirst / a design collaborative on Vimeo. (Watch for his screen saver turning on around the 2:15 minute mark for a fun slide/side show).

This video shows Rodecker briefly discussing RicharDaily, in relationship to the recent retrospective exhibit Curiosities: Rick Valicenti and 21st Century Thirst, shown at Florida Atlantic University, February 13th-April 3rd, 2010. Check out photographs of the exhibit here.

Rodecker's A Red and Blue America, varying edition of screen prints, as seen on RicharDaily here.

Those meshed Google street views (on RicharDaily) with your photographs of Chicago are interesting...

Thank you, I really like the google images. It's going to be an evolving series. I think it's an interesting collage of documentation of place and time.

It will be fun to watch the stream of consciousness/ creativity flowing from RicharDaily throughout 2010, and I look forward to seeing what Bud has in store for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Newcity Review: Mike Schuh's "Set" at Golden Gallery

Mike Schuh, End, plaster cast, (2010)

Mike Schuh, Seats (2010)

Check it out: below is my newest art review in Newcity (found here), Chicago artist Mike Schuh.


(Newcity Art, April 5th, 2010) Mike Schuh’s work is quiet and unobtrusive, and seamlessly integrated into the apartment-gallery architecture of Golden. It’s so seamless, in fact, that a first-time visitor would be hard-pressed to pick out all of Schuh’s pieces. His works, mostly site-specific, were created to emphasize the fact that Golden, while currently un-lived in, began as a residential apartment. Schuh implies a domestic space, and his installations hover between residential function and household decoration. For an artist who professes an interest in objects in his artist statement, there are remarkably few objects on display, but the very sparseness of the exhibit brings attention to all of the elements of domestic life that would normally fill the space if someone made Golden Gallery their home.

In all of the rooms, red-velvet cushions transform low windowsills into theater seats. The installation of the red cushions reinforces the idea that “Set” is not only about transitions; it is also a set, or a stage, for a minimalist performance about a hypothetical home. The presence of the cushions gives tacit permission to perch on the windowsills and observe, and emphasizes an act that visitors normally perform anyway.

The cushions are primarily taken advantage of in the rooms that contain video projections. In the front room is an eerie, meditative loop of a squeaky screen door swinging in the evening breeze, and in the kitchen is a rotating cycle of found digital photographs of sunrises and sunsets. Prolonging the in-between is clearly on Schuh’s mind.

Small drawings on vellum in the hallway add to the domestic scene, for the connecting space of a hallway invites filler-like framed family portraits. These images are stand-ins for “domestic art,” yet the subject matter is unexpected: framed sketches of dead vultures, creatures who are associated with death but who are rarely depicted as lifeless. The execution of the drawings is rough and hurried—one wonders why Schuh chose to show his hand here, and why he didn’t simply cull more found internet images—however, the display of death in the emptied living space adds further provocation. (Julia V. Hendrickson)

Through April 24 at Golden Gallery, 816 West Newport

Mike Schuh, installation shot for Taking Turns, internet search images for "sunrise" and "sunset" (2010)


Schuch received his MFA in Visual Art from the University of Chicago in 2009, and a BFA in Filmmaking from Syracuse University in 2001. He most recently exhibited at DOVAtemporary (Chicago), in a show called No Sudden Moves, (two person show with Matthew Metzger, who is interviewed in Newcity here), as part of his MFA exhibition.

You can watch that eerie swinging-door video loop, It Wasn't Night It Wasn't Day (2010), on Schuh's website here (second one down).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

French New Wave + A Silent Short: Les Fiancés Du Pont Macdonald

Jean-Luc Godard

I recently watched the lovely and classic New Wave thriller/ love-triangle, Band à Part (Band of Outsiders) (1964), directed by Jean-Luc Godard. There are a plethora of literary references simmering beneath the surface, and the Criterion Collection re-release DVD has a nice little commentary elaborating on this.

Here is a useful little blurb about Band of Outsiders, which was created to be a systematic Le Bandeurto the tyranny of what French cinema had become (and, yes, that was a band pun). Le Bandeur is a colloquialism for “up yours”, among other less-savoury things, which--as a rather long aside-- I recently learned thanks to the sailor-mind of H.C. Westermann (American, 1922–1981) and his portfolio of lithographs, See America First (1968). I've been working on an exhibit about Chicago printmakers called Chicago Stories, Chicago Prints in the Prints & Drawings Dept. of the Art Institute of Chicago (opens May 16th!), and the main gallery features the lithographs from Westermann's See America First, including the plywood slipcase for the portfolio which has a wood-burned drawing of a man's arm making a fist, the words "Le Bandeur" emblazoned across his arm. The portfolio was printed at Tamarind Lithography Studio, and a saltily-loving "Le Bandeur!" was reportedly the way Tamarind printers would greet and address each other.

Okay, so... back to New Wave! NPR interviewed actress Anna Karina in 2001 about Band of Outsiders, which was made while she and Jean-Luc Godard were married (which was from 1960-1967). She stars in a number of Godard's films, always with those terribly mournful wide, blinking eyes.

Anna Karina in Band of Outsiders from here.

Anna Karina and Godard, wedding day, from here.

Anna Karina and Godard, from Flickr here
(which also has other marvellous French cinema photos).

Here is the classic one-take dance scene from the film (the actors are dancing the Madison, which they rehearsed for hours and hours throughout the filming of Band of Outsiders). Anna Karina is the girl, Odile; Sami Frey plays the Kafka-look-alike, Franz; and Claude Brasseur plays the uber-masculine Arthur (in the argyle sweater). This is the epitome of cool.

And, finally, here is the adorable silent short, Les Fiancés Du Pont Macdonald, directed by Agnès Varda. It's included in her lovely film Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7) (1962)––Cleo (the blond at the beginning of the clip) watches it from the projection booth. It is a silly love story featuring Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina, who were married a few years earlier, as well as the other actors from the not-yet-released Band of Outsiders. I love that it pokes fun at Godard's ubiquitous dark tinted glasses.