Art Chantry in Punk Planet

A handful of quotes from an interview with designer Art Chantry from a 1998 issue of Punk Planet.

On computers:

“What happens because of the sudden and dramatic paradigm shift from conventional graphic design to computer-generated graphic design is that all the support systems – typesetters, darkroom stripping, graphic designers, copywriters, editors, and soon, pressmen – are going to be eliminated from the design process. Its going to go straight from the desktop to a printed piece. In that shift, there is an enormous drop in quality – I see million-dollar typos happening. Because of this shift, there is no demand for the way I process things and the result is that my artwork is now considered custom, expensive work and very difficult to get done well, or get done at all. So all of a sudden my work – the way I’ve always worked, and the way graphic design has been practiced for hundreds of years got tossed out in two or three years. They refer to the way I do things as ‘traditional’ or ‘conventional.’ No. the convention is now computers. It’s never been easier to be a graphic designer; all you have to do is buy the software But at the same time it’s never been tougher because now everybody is a graphic designer.”

On David Carson:

“We’re going through an enormous period of really fucking bad typography, bad design, bad this, bad that. That’s what David Carson was all about. He was doing all this bad stuff and presenting it and everybody thought it was young and fresh and new – let’s do it! His stance was essentially a punk stance – an anti-graphic stance. What he was trying to do was break every rule he could. If it came off the machine fucked up, he’d just use it. Everybody thought that was so interesting and new. Well it wasn’t. It was just punk shit! He was a surfer for Christ’s sake! What happened was that he introduced it into mainstream culture and it got adopted wholesale and everybody copied it and all of a sudden bad graphics became good graphics. It was a really revolutionary thing and I applaud him for that, although I think his later work became a parody of itself. […] It’s very important to be able to articulate your ideas in graphic design. Carson can’t articulate his ideas for shit. He’d be a superstar in a big, important way if he could just explain what the fuck he’s doing. But he can’t, because he’s an instinct designer.”

On Emigre:

“I’ve always looked at Emigre as being absolutely nothing. I’ve never gotten what the big deal is about Emigre. There are no ideas in there, that I’ve seen, that hadn’t already been exhausted by the late ’70s. There’s nothing new in there and there never has been, yet people who practice design culture look at it and go apeshit because it vaguely looks like Design Culture design, but at the same time it brings in some of these kind of anarchistic ideas – does that word ‘anarchistic’ sound familiar? If you’ve ever talked to Rudy Vanderlans, he’s just a real real uptight guy.”

On design culture:

“Those people are in a subculture called Design Culture which is a very distinct subculture that dominates the design practice. I don’t partake in that. Academia is not where design ideas come from. Design ideas come from the popular language. If you look at the history of graphic design in America, Design Culture talks about the Bauhaus – come on, people, graphic design in America is the junk we like: it’s hot-rod graphics; old signage from the 1800s; it’s bad ads from trade magazines in the 1930s; it’s garbage lying in the street. That is the history of graphic design, not some astute guys sitting on their thumbs in Switzerland – that’s ridiculous! Anybody who knows anything can point that out, except people who practice Design Culture.”

On innovation:

“I don’t think there’s much loyalty in America for anything. There’s none at the corporate levels or in business unless you can make money for them – that’s the only loyalty they buy. […] Innovation doesn’t come out of corporations, it comes out of people, you know?”