Tag typography

4 Corners : An Interview with Errol Donald AKA Pride

This month, while we face the winter blues of New Year, we stay home in London and in the warm company of someone I have been blessed to call a friend for more than 30 years. Mr Errol Donald, AKA Pride. We were initially brought together in our teens through a mutual friend, because of our love for George Clinton and all things P-Funk. Followed by a shared passion for design and creativity, as time passed and we developed our own career paths as creative professionals. Throughout that time I have always admired Errol greatly. Like some designer superhero, he effortlessly glided between the worlds of graffiti and graphic design, making his mark on both sides of the track. In the ‘80s, as his alter ego ‘Pride’, he was a founder member of one of Europe’s most celebrated and respected graffiti crews, The Chrome Angelz. He custom-designed t-shirts, like his classic ‘Nike/Spike’ design, which was a total game-changer in my opinion. Then followed a period working as a designer for the classic French brand, Michelin. And in more recent times, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly for a former graffiti artist, working for the international law firm, Hogan Lovells as an executive creative director. As a creative facilitator and educator, Donald has also worked with the Letter Exchange delivering lectures and workshops in graffiti and typography both here and abroad. And he continues to work tirelessly in the community sharing his mad skills and experiences with young people. There’s a lot in a tag, and in Errol’s case its truly fitting. Pride by name, pride by nature.Errol Donald

Errol Donald AKA Pride: creative director, lettering artist, lecturer

What’s your background?

I was born and raised in West London to Jamaican parents. I was fascinated by the many ways in which the youth of my elder brother’s generation chose to express their own identities. From music, politics, right through to fashion and attitude. Culture and creativity seemed to go hand in hand. In trying to be different, I drew inspiration not just from my immediate surroundings and largely Caribbean culture, but also from anything that seemed to challenge the norm, and so I became very curious about how culture was being expressed elsewhere. I studied graphic design at Camberwell School of Art and enjoyed the multi-disciplinary environment and emphasis on traditional practice. Around the same time, Hip Hop had made its way into the UK, and I was hooked! The references to popular culture, politics, and community, confidently expressed by my peers caught me at a time when I was ready to make my own mark as a creative artist. I quickly established myself within London’s Hip Hop community as a graffiti artist with The Chrome Angelz. As a collective, we shared a passion for the visual arts and traditional arts practice and sought to find a way of honouring the original pioneers of the movement, by developing a distinctly European aesthetic. It was a completely new and exciting education for me. I took a year out from my degree studies to paint, collaborate, and experiment. We were very active across the UK and in Europe, yet retained the freedom to carry out solo projects that took us all in new and interesting directions. The autonomy gave me the ideal opportunity to freely express my own ideas across a range of creative disciplines. The Spike T-shirt was a self-initiated project. I wanted to capture the tension between cultural and corporate identity in a single image. It was part of a series and was undoubtedly the most popular! I returned to complete my degree with a lot of confidence, and dedicated my final year to academic research that examined the creative, social, and wider cultural impact of graffiti culture.Chrome Angelz poster

Chrome Angelz poster

How did you get started in your field of expertise?

After graduating, I made the most of my mixed skillset and gained a lot of industry exposure through film, TV and advertising projects. I also began to play a more meaningful role in my community, working in the arts and education, and was invited on to the board of ACAVA, an arts charity based in West London. A few months later, I joined the in-house team at Michelin – a very traditional brand with a proud lineage. Though a little challenging at first, there I was able to utilise my range of skills and experiences and made the transition to commercial branding, which to me shared a number of similarities with brand-conscious nature of graffiti and hip-hop culture. I’ve gone on to enjoy a successful career in the business sector, leading creative teams for global brands across a number of industry sectors (energy, finance, property, law). I love the intercultural enagement the most, as there’s always a part of me that’s able to facilitate a sense of shared understanding.'Nike/Spike'

‘Nike/Spike’

What challenges did you face/overcome in getting into the industry and achieving your ambitions?

As an artist, my early efforts to take graffiti art into (then new) spaces polarised opinion amongst graffiti artists, and the general public. Both audiences were wary of the impact that graffiti would have on their respective communities as it sought ‘acceptance’ in the public realm. As a design professional, my mixed skillset opened some doors, and kept others firmly closed. The familiar dilemma of tailoring my portfolio was worsened by the fact that clients were wary the negative impact on brand and reputation brought on by association with graffiti culture.TDK press ad

TDK press ad

Who and/or What are your greatest inspirations and influences?

My parents and my son, Wesley. Broadcaster and author Alex Pascal was the first to paint a picture of the world outside my window by weaving together culture and creativity. Books: Photographer Charlie Phillips’ – ‘Notting Hill in the Sixties’, Watching my name go by – Norman Mailer and Jon Naar, Getting Up – Craig Castleman, and many more! Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to maverick creativity. My tastes are quite varied and include everything from Thelonious Monk to P-Funk, Alvin Ailey to David Mamet and Ricky Jay. I also admire the wit of Patrick Caulfield and the works of designers Ron Arad, Philippe Starck and Terence Conran. It goes without saying that graffiti and hip-hop culture have provided many amazing moments. I was year into my degree and came across an article on the visionary artist and performer  Rammellzee. His unique theories on lettering and language left me mesmerised.Ties for Michelin

Ties for Michelin

What is your best piece of work or the project you are most proud of?

My first exhibition at the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol means a great deal as it was my first gallery experience, and I think it one of the first shows in the UK dedicated to graffiti art. I’ve been lucky to work on a number of projects that I am passionate about. From my first press illustration for TDK, to branding Brixton’s Rough and Ready basketball tournament. I love type and lettering, and recently became a member of Letter Exchange, where I gave a lecture on the aesthetics of graffiti art to a mixed audience of lettering professionals, friends, and family members, most of whom had no idea of my ‘creative past’! In commercial terms, I’m very proud to have led the rebranding programme for  international law firm Hogan Lovells. I had already completed a number of similar projects for other companies, but the scale of the project, spanning different teams and countries made the project rewarding.Work in Bristol's Arnolfini Gallery

Work in Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery

What would be your dream job or project?

Through my company Mindspray, I want to expand my work as a facilitator and consultant to build sustainable links between education, vocational training and business. I’m passionate about collaboration and exchange, and would love to create a global initiative that drew both culture and commerce together.Work for Brixton's Rough and Ready basketball tournament

Work for Brixton’s Rough and Ready basketball tournament

Please name some people in your field that you believe deserve credit or recognition, and why.

Cornbread, Iz, Blade, Barbera 62 & Eva 62, Stay High 149, Tracy 168, Seen, Kase 2, Phase 2, Lee Quinones and Dondi are among the many important figures and pioneers of graffiti culture. Colin Brignall and Dave Farey – for Letraset! What more can I say? Tony Messenger, my tutor at Camberwell who allowed me to take a year out to follow my passion. Artists Simon Cooley and Rita Keegan were amongst the few practising artists to offer advice and encouragement as I swapped sable for aerosol. London’s hip-hop community during the ‘80s for doing things that I’ve never seen before. Or since. All the educators, academics, researchers and many others who have shared their knowledge and experiences with me. Too numerous to list here, all have helped to shape my understanding of cultures past and present, and deserve much credit.Taxonomy

Taxonomy

What’s your best piece of advice for those wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Always Be Curious.

What’s next for you?

I’ve just completed a creative campaign for the international charity Coaching for Hope, who use football to create better futures for young people in western and southern Africa. Supported by FIFA, HSBC, Hogan Lovells and nPower, the project will raise awareness around the challenges faced by young women and girls playing sport in South Africa, and aims to educate young women and girls about their rights to play football and remain safe when faced with discrimination and violence. By visiting townships and areas of high unemployment where the work is undertaken, my goal is to build awareness of the campaign and to extend the reach of the programme to other regions and countries where young women and girls face similar issues.Hogan Lovells identity

Hogan Lovells identity

Network

THE U.S:

My Rock Stars: Volume 2, the first American solo show by Moroccan-born artist Hassan Hajjaj. The body of work produced for this exhibition is a continuation of Hajjaj’s ‘Rock Stars’ series, in which the artist portrays his close personal friends in the guise of ‘rock stars’. Taking his pop-up studio through Morocco, London and Paris, Hajjaj’s approach combines the spontaneity of street portraiture with the language of fashion photography, creating an image that simultaneously evokes urban culture and the haute couture of glossy magazines. Runs until 22 February at Gusford Gallery, 7016 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038For more info visitwww.gusfordgallery.com

Albus is South African photographerJustin Dingwall’s solo exhibition made in collaboration with Thando Hopa. It explores the aesthetics of Albinism in contrast with the idealised perception of beauty. Albinism touches every ethnic group and is characterised by the insufficiency of melanin that determines skin and hair color. Rejected, prejudiced and discriminated individuals suffering from albinism in Southern Africa are likely to become targets and victims of physical attacks and mutilations. The project reflects the ability to look inside ourselves and re-invent norms of beauty. M.I.A. Gallery 1203 A Second Avenue Seattle, 98101 WA, USA. For more info visithttp://m-i-a-gallery.com

THE CARIBBEAN:

Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2014. Featuring a stellar line-up of international artists, this firmly established event on the global festival calendar takes place between 31 January and 1 February at Greenfield Stadium, Trelawny, Jamaica. For more information visit http://jamaicajazzandblues.com

EUROPE:

Tom Eckersley: Master of the Poster. To mark the centenary of legendary graphic designer Tom Eckersley’s birth, London College of Communication presents an exhibition of iconic Eckersley poster designs which celebrate his enormous contribution to graphic communication and design education in Britain. Exhibition Open: 11 – 29 January 2014, 10:00am – 5:00pm (closed on Sundays) London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle SE1 6SB.For more info visit http://www.arts.ac.uk/lcc/

Herbert Bayer’s Commercial Graphics, 1928-1938 is a special exhibition at the Bauhaus Archive dedicated to the work of the Bauhaus teacher – between his departure from the Bauhaus and his emigration to the USA. The exhibition showcases the commercial graphic work of Bayer during the Weimar Republic and in Nazi Germany, after his departure from the Bauhaus. With his work for Dorland Studio, Bayer continued to be one of the most successful and highest-earning graphic artists of the period. At The The Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design, Klingelhoferstrasse 14 10785 Berlin Germany. For more information visit http://www.bauhaus.de

AFRICA:

ONOMOllywood, a collaborative project by photographers Antoine Tempé and Omar Victor Diop of twenty images inspired by iconic moments from great American and European films. Cinema as a universal art form transcends barriers, be they geographic, cultural, or racial. Iconic scenes have influenced popular culture globally. ONOMOllywood reimagines these famous scenes set in the dynamic cities of Dakar and Abidjan where hotels become the metaphorical juncture. As crossroads, they represent forums where cultures and people from around the world co-exist and merge in a permanent cycle of reinventions and reinterpretations. Onomo Hotel Dakar Airport Route de l’Aéroport BP 38233 Dakar, Yoff, Senegal. For info visit  http://www.onomohotel.com

If you have any forthcoming events that you would like to be considered for inclusion in this column, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at info at jon-daniel dot com.

 

Advertisements

4 Corners: An Interview with Saki Mafundikwa

This month we take a trip to ‘The Motherland’, Africa. A continent, that certainly earns its status as the cradle of civilization due to the fact that most scientific research points to this as being the place of where Man first originated.
Historically, evidence of African art and design can be found within almost all cultures and societies across the world. From the tribal, geometric and abstract forms that inspired the paintings of Picasso and the roots of Modernism to the ancient Adinkra symbolism that is reflected in many European decorative design elements and fabrics.
For those of you unfamiliar with Adinkra symbols, they are a comprehensive lexicon of visual icons created by the Akan people of Ghana and Gyaman people of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa and devised to communicate proverbs.
They are just one of the many African writing systems that were highlighted by the distinguished Zimbabwean graphic designer, Saki Mafundikwa in his landmark and definitive book on the subject, Afrikan Alphabets.
And as this month celebrates the anniversary of Zimbabwe’s Independence, I can think of no more fitting designer to introduce to you today.Saki Mafundikwa

Source: Aahn Sang Soo

Saki Mafundikwa, founder and director of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA).

What’s your background?

I’m Founder and director of the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA), a graphic design and new media training college in Harare. I was educated in the USA, with a BA in Telecommunications and Fine Arts from Indiana University and an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University. I returned home in 1998 to found ZIVA after working in New York City as a graphic designer, art director and design instructor. My book, Afrikan Alphabets: the Story of Writing in Africa was published in 2004. My first film, Shungu: The Resilience of a People – a feature-length documentary – had its world premiere at 2009’s International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). It won the prestigious Ousmane Sembene Award at Zanzibar International Film Festival and Best Documentary at Kenya International Film Festival, both in 2010.

How did you get started in design?

I was a talented child and was always drawing, which led my father (a school teacher) to buy me a drawing book, crayons and water colours. I grew up in colonial Rhodesia and for Afrikan kids, art was not offered as a subject in the curriculum. So I taught myself drawing through observation. I looked everywhere: nature and everyday life. I drew my father’s charts for his history, geography and science lessons and discovered that I enjoyed lettering the most. It was only after my arrival in the States in 1980 that I discovered graphic design! I talked my way into the department without a portfolio. I never looked back.Identity for the Black Documentary Collective

Identity for the Black Documentary Collective

What challenges did you face in getting into the industry and achieving your ambitions?

After grad school, I moved to New York and worked for a black-owned ad agency. They had hired me my last summer of grad school so I never went through the process of hunting for a job. I learned a lot on that job but after a while, the work wasn’t challenging enough so when they laid me off during a slump in business, I struck out on my own, freelancing for a variety of clients. I did a lot of book design, album and cd design and anything else that came my way. The main challenge I faced in those days – at least I thought it was a challenge – was I was always typecast! I always got ‘black’ projects from mainstream clients. Soon however I realised that it wasn’t such a bad thing because of the sensitivity I gave the work. I came to the conclusion that, in a predominantly white industry, to be called upon to create work for your own people is a source of great pride. Design is not very well understood in the black community, so to be able to create work the people could relate to was quite inspiring. This way, I felt, I could help our people understand and appreciate good design. One can draw from our rich cultural heritage in a subtle way and when the audience ‘gets it’, well, there’s no better feeling!Cover design for Thomas Mapfumo's Corruption album

Cover design for Thomas Mapfumo’s Corruption album

Who are your greatest inspirations and influences?

My source of inspiration can come from anything or anywhere. Everything around me comes into play by keeping an open mind. My work has been influenced by a I draw my inspirations and influences from the great Afrikans from all forms of creativity. Bob Marley, Fela Anakulapo Kuti, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Kwame Nkurumah, Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, Cheikh Anta Diop, Franz Fanon, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara… there are many!

The ancient Afrikans of antiquity who created civilization, mathematics, science and invented the alphabet in Egypt… yes, we have a glorious past and we can – no, make that SHOULD – learn from them. They are a source of great pride and inspiration and their accomplishments and contributions must be part of every curriculum in every school from grade one.

What is the project you are most proud of?

My Afrikan Alphabets book! As you can see from the previous question, I am a researcher and historian, especially OUR story! There should be more books, especially for the young ones, and our students. We keep talking about design being Eurocentric but without resources like textbooks about and by us, how do we expect the young ones to ‘get it’? We got it through years of study and research. We must provide them with the resources.Afrikan Alphabets

Afrikan Alphabets

What would be your dream job or project?

A design textbook for Afrikan students on the continent and in the diaspora. This would be a dream come true. I have already begun work on this project.

Please name some people in your field that you believe deserve credit.

All the Afrikans who invented writing systems whether living or dead. These people rendered the commonly held belief that Afrika had no writing, (the dark continent myth) moot. The two professors at Indiana University who took a chance on me and admitted me into the graphic design department without a portfolio: Professor Tom Coleman and Professor James Reidhaar. The head of department at Yale University School of Art, Alvin Eisenman is the one who pointed me in the direction of writing in Afrika when I was applying for admission to the Masters programme there. I had some amazing teachers along the way, and the best one is Bradbury Thompson who is the most humane and caring teacher I’ve ever had.

What’s your best piece of advice for those wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Always keep an open mind, if you don’t you block some blessings that might be meant for you. As the original people, children of the sun, we have such a rich bounty of inspiration: our music, dance and art – they are all connected, there is no separation. Sankofa: learn from our rich past in order to inform our lives today and the future.Identity for the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts

Identity for the Zimbabwe Institute of  Vigital Arts

What’s next for you?

I have made the transition to film-making seamlessly and am working on my second documentary, which should be out by year’s end. I have a piece of land outside of Harare where I do organic farming, rear cattle and goats and would like to put up some greenhouses for horticulture. I see a strong connecting line between all the things I do. The design school I run in Harare, the books I write, the films I make and the organic farming – they are all connected. Each one informs the other.

 

Network:

THE U.S:

Lois Mailou Jones – A Life in Vibrant Color: Born in Boston in 1905 and trained at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Loïs Mailou Jones began her career at a time when racial prejudices and gender discrimination were strong in American culture. This exhibition surveys the vast sweep of Jones’s seventy-five years as a painter stretching from late Post-Impressionism to a contemporary mixture of African, Caribbean, American and African-American iconography, design and thematic elements. Exhibition Hall at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. From 19 April through to 29 June 2013. For further information, go to http://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/loïs-mailou-jones-life-vibrant-color

THE CARIBBEAN:

International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA), established in 1982 acknowledges and honors the accomplishments and contributions of reggae and world music artists, including: songwriters, performers, promoters and musicians.

For more information call: 954-251-1643 Or visit: www.irawma.com

AFRICA:
Marketing Indaba The fourth annual Marketing Indaba Conference, will take place on 15 and 16 May in Cape Town. And in Johannesburg on 29 and 30 May. For more information visit http://www.marketingindaba.com

EUROPE:

POINT is a two-day International design conference in London, which aims to celebrate “excellence in design and its influence in contemporary culture and society”. Featuring over 40 top speakers, the conference’s start-up theme is ‘authenticity’. 2-3 May at RIBA. 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD. For more information and speaker line-up visitwww.pointconference.com

Alan Fletcher’s Colophon Presented by the Wynkyn de Worde Society and St Bride Foundation. This talk is based around Fletcher’s largely unknown series of books Monographica, and hopes to give some context to their creation whilst at the same time offering an overview of Fletcher’s fifty-year career. Thursday 9 May 2013 at 7.00pm In the Bridewell Hall, St Bride Foundation. Tickets: £15.00. Friends of St Bride Library: £12.50. Students: £10.00 (bring NUS card). For tickets visithttp://www.eventbrite.com/event/5560798498