Frank Stella on pressure

“I think the pressures are always the same—the only difference is the amount of money that’s involved. I mean, it’s a lot of pressure to produce something for $25 dollars when you really need $25. It doesn’t matter if the pressure is for $2,500 or $25,000—it’s the same pressure.”

— Frank Stella (via)

Grant Morrison’s film influences

“Most certainly a major influence was the work of Jan Švankmajer, whose films I saw while I was working on my Doom Patrol proposal. Švankmajer is a Czech filmmaker whose films are often mistakenly described as surrealist. (In truth, they’re only surrealist in the strict ‘super real’ sense of that much-maligned word.) The films are generally fairly short; they use a combination of live action and animation of everyday objects; and they present a disturbing vision of a world set free from all logical constraints. Švankmajer has just released a full-length interpretation of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and if you get the chance to see it, jump at it.

The season of Švankmajer films was augmented by ‘surrealist’ classics like Kenneth Anger’s Eaux d’Artifice and Maya Deren’s eerie Meshes of the Afternoon, so when the time came to start work on Doom Patrol, I’d immersed myself in the atmosphere of these weird, irrational worlds and was all set to bring some of that dream like ambiance to the stories I was planning.”

— Grant Morrison

Louise Glück on praise

“I don’t need your praise
to survive. I was here first,
before you were here, before
you ever planted a garden.
And I’ll be here when only the sun and moon
are left, and the sea, and the wide field.

I will constitute the field.”

— Louise Glück (via The Wild Iris, “Witchgrass”)

David Lynch on projects

“Projects! The word ‘project’ was so thrilling to everyone in my family. You get an idea for a project, and you get your tools together, and tools are some of the greatest things in the world! That people invent things to make things more precise – its incredible… My parents took it seriously when I got ideas for things I wanted to make.”

— David Lynch (via Room to Dream)

Kurt Vonnegut on reading

“Reading is such a difficult thing to do that most of our time in school is spent learning how to do that alone. If we had spent as much time at ice skating as we have with reading, we would all be stars with The Hollywood Ice Capades instead of bookworms now…

Are we foolish to be so elated by books in an age of movies and television? Not in the least, for our ability to read, when combined with libraries like this one, makes us the freest of women and men – and children.

Because we are readers, we don’t have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next – and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis – at any time of night or day.

Even more magically, perhaps, we readers can communicate with each other across space and time so cheaply. Ink and paper are as cheap as sand or water, almost. No board of directions has to convene in order to decide whether we can afford to write down this or that. I myself once staged the end of the world on two pieces of paper – at a cost of less than a penny, including wear and tear on my typewriter ribbon and the seat of my pants.”

— Kurt Vonnegut (via Palm Sunday)

Barbara Stauffacher Solomon in 2021

A few excerpts from a 2021 piece on designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon:

“People really believed modernism was going to save the world back then, if only we would take the serifs off the type,” she says. “With no serifs, perhaps naively, we thought the type would be more truthful and would be used for books that everyone could afford.”

Nowadays, the kind of sans-serif minimalism that Solomon is talking about is perhaps most used by Big Tech giants. She laments that her beloved Helvetica “became the typeface of capitalism, not socialism as we’d hoped”.

“Of course, the capitalists took it over in the end – all the smart people decided they liked that clean look and took it for themselves,” she says, adding the same thing happened with modernist architecture. “It was supposed to a be a solution for low cost housing for the poor, but so quickly was changed to represent expensive housing that only the rich could afford.”

“The history department in particular helped me to learn to write and it was about simple words – none of that long-winded bullshit they talk in other subjects,” she says. “They liked clean, clear and minimal writing, and of course I was already familiar with those ideas.”

Now she prefers writing over design in most cases. Design, she admits, was a way to make money.

“If I hadn’t called myself a graphic designer, I wouldn’t have got paid,” Solomon says, adding that she learned how to charge from her architect friends. Even then, she felt there was a stigma attached to being creative for money.

“People thought I was less than because I was a graphic designer working for a living, rather than an artist earning nothing,” she says. “I think it’s some weird purity thing that still happens now.”

— (via)

Steve Albini on being paid like a plumber

“I explained this to Kurt but I thought I’d better reiterate it here. I do not want and will not take a royalty on any record I record. No points. Period. I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It’s the band’s fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it’s a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band.

I would like to be paid like a plumber: I do the job and you pay me what it’s worth. The record company will expect me to ask for a point or a point and a half. If we assume three million sales, that works out to 400,000 dollars or so. There’s no fucking way I would ever take that much money. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.”

— Steve Albini

Hermann Hesse on the self

“Every ego, so far from being a unity is in the highest degree a manifold world, a constellated heaven, a chaos of forms, of states and stages, of inheritances and potentialities. It appears to be a necessity as imperative as eating and breathing for everyone to be forced to regard this chaos as a unity and to speak of his ego as though it were a one-fold and clearly detached and fixed phenomenon. Even the best of us shares the delusion…

[These selves] form a unity and a supreme individuality; and it is in this higher unity alone, not in the several characters, that something of the true nature of the soul is revealed…

Embark on the longer and wearier and harder road of life. You will have to multiply many times your two-fold being and complicate your complexities still further. Instead of narrowing your world and simplifying your soul, you will have to absorb more and more of the world and at last take all of it up in your painfully expanded soul, if you are ever to find peace.”

— Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (via)

Richard Hollis in 2006

A few excerpts from an interview with Richard Hollis conducted by Christopher Wilson in Eye Magazine:

Christopher Wilson: Was Ways of Seeing the first time you integrated images into the text column?

Richard Hollis: Yes. The influence was Chris Marker’s book Commentaires, which has stills set within the text. I was a fan of Marker’s films, independently of Germano [Facetti stars in Marker’s La Jetée]. As you read you knew exactly what was being talked about. It was a substitute for description: instead of talking about something, you show the objective visual evidence. That’s how I wanted to do Ways of Seeing, rather than have images by the side or text followed by a page of images. Only recently I noticed that this is exactly what John Heartfield did in Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles in 1929, although Ways of Seeing looks more like Marker.

CW: And this relates to the ‘supranational form-language’?

RH: Indirectly. It’s anti-authoritarian: ‘These are the facts; we’re not interpreting them.’ Obviously you can use facts in different ways, so it’s rather naive.

CW: Images are placed next to where they’re discussed – there’s no searching around. Is there never a value in forcing the reader to work a little?

RH: That’s like saying that you should get out and push your car, because then you’d realise the amount of energy expended on making it move.

CW: No, it’s more like getting out and walking for the sake of exercise.

RH: It is an argument. In working to find the answers, the reader might learn something else along the way.

CW: So you have never wanted to display an image huge because you felt like it, or because it worked but you couldn’t say why?

RH: The ideal situation is where you sit with the client and design with them. If anything is emphasised, it’s what they want to emphasise. So often you’re left with no guidance as to what to give prominence to. I much prefer collaborative effort to doing what I want to do. It’s diametrically opposite to being an artist. Artists are free to put things into any form they like, which may or may not be comprehensible in the way they hope. For me, working with the person whose message it is is the most comfortable.

CW: Designers who prefer more space might argue: ‘I’m the expert; why should I let someone who is quite possibly visually illiterate tell me how to do my job?’

RH: It’s more like a consultation with a doctor, who has the knowledge and expertise, and the patient, who explains what the symptoms are, and later says whether the prescribed treatment is working. The client certainly shouldn’t express any expertise in design – they should only express an understanding of what they want to get across. In conversation the designer can sometimes help them understand what they’re saying. It’s a mutual engagement to effect a response from anyone who looks at the material being produced. The more distant from the client you are, the worse it is. This is why client questionnaires are so good: ‘what are you trying to say?’

CW: In some cases, marketing teams are now determining how things should look before the designer is involved. And when the layout is done, the results are taken away and discussed without the designer present. What do you feel about that?

RH: This is where it’s gradually changed. Marketing people have an idée fixe about what they think is marketable, and that’s so often proved to be completely wrong. They don’t understand that other people have expertise. One really needs a long-term relationship with a client before they trust the designer. Competitive tendering is one thing which has destroyed the notion of a long-term relationship: people switch advertising agencies all the time.

CW: I’ve seen cases in in-house departments where marketing staff pull up a chair behind the designer and say: ‘Move that type a little to the left … now let’s see it in green …’

RH: I’d tell them to fuck off.

CW: But where is the borderline here? You advocate design as a social process, but with the current technology the client-designer relationship can devolve into a situation where the designer is merely required to move elements around.

RH: This is true, but it’s partly because designers have taken over many tasks which used to be the printer’s.

CW: You carry a lot of idiosyncrasies from one client to the next: big indents, multiple alignments on a single plane and the extracting of many colours out of few prints being just three examples. You can tell ‘It’s a Hollis’, can’t you?

RH: That’s bad. Hitchcock said ‘self-plagiarism is style’, but you can carry it a bit far. Because of typefaces you’re happy with, and certain ways of putting things together, it does become a sort of style. It’s not conscious. The atmosphere of the client influences the way you treat something.

— (via)

Kyle Baker on big companies

“A lot of big companies deal almost exclusively with people who have wanted to work for them since birth. The problem with that is the companies don’t have to treat you with any kind of respect or pay you.”

— Kyle Baker (via Hot Tips From Top Comics Creators)