Taking into consideration your impressions of Rives’s Typographic Fairytale, what relationships can you identify between this contemporary fairytale and the statements Philip Meggs’s made in his epilogue to A History of Graphic Design?
In his epilogue to A History of Graphic Design, Philip Meggs states:
The tools—as happened so often in the past—are changing with the relentless advance of technology, but the essence of graphic design remains unchanged. That essence is to give order to information, form to ideas, and expression and feeling to artifacts that document the human experience.
The need for clear and imaginative visual communications to relate people to their cultural, economic and social lives has never been greater. As shapers of messages and images, graphic designers have an obligation to contribute meaningfully to a public understanding of environmental and social issues. Graphic designers have a responsibility to adapt new technology and to express their zeitgeist by inventing new forms and new ways of expressing ideas.
There are two important associations that I draw between Rives’ typographic fairytale and Meggs’ statement.
First, Meggs explains that our tools are always changing but that the essence of our job remains the same – to give order, form, expression and feeling to information, ideas and artifacts. It is evident that Rives has employed the popular devise of typographic emoticons as illustrations. In this way, he is using a new “tool” to communicate his story.
However, for my second association, Meggs explains that clear and imaginative visual communication is needed to relate to the people. What Rives created was certainly imaginative, but not “clear” by any means. The story REQUIRES his narration in order to communicate it fully to the audience. And (in my opinion), if it needs explaining, it’s not clear. The graphics themselves, however clever, do not provide clear visual communication of the story.
Now perhaps, it is arguable that there is a third association, and the Rives has invented a “new form and new way” of expressing his idea, a way that requires his performance in the communication of the story. I’m not really sure how “new” that actually is given theatre, performance art, power point presentations, etc. But I can see the newness in the use of typographic illustrations that go with the narrative. And, perhaps, it’s perfectly fine for the visuals in his “graphic design” to not be able to stand on their own. I suppose the determination of that would be up to Rives as the artist.