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Monthly Archives: November 2007

July 2006 I was invited out to the Woody Guthrie Festival to speak about my book Woody Guthrie Artworks. You know, it’s good for me to get out of the North East. I didn’t know places still exist like Okemah. A true western, red brick and sun burnt town (106 degrees, 90% humidity). No strip malls. Nothing but farms surrounding. I can see why Woody was a sign painter. The sun peels the paint off of the signs as soon as they are painted.

See for yourself (you can view them at a higher resolution at):

flickr.com/photos/21172951@N06

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Since September 2004 I have been running the Design Studio at Kean University. It is a great opportunity for students about to graduate to have printed pieces in their portfolios, and many have won design awards in the professional categories. I also like the fact that we get to help charities in need of donated design services. You can view our work at:

kean.edu/~destudio

THE DESIGN STUDIO at Kean University is both an advanced course taken for credit by students in the BFA Visual Communications major and an active design studio providing communication design services to the University and to non-profit community at large. The Design Studio has been in continuous operation since 1975, begun by Martin Holloway, and also run for many years by Alan Robbins. In that time it has produced hundreds of projects for regional non-profit organizations and institutions, particularly those offering social, medical, educational and cultural services. The quality of graphic design provided by the studio, as a service of the professional BFA degree program, would be prohibitively costly for the non-profit clients of the studio. The students provide, in the studio’s service learning atmosphere, professional level design other wise unavailable to its clients. From the academic perspective, students enrolled in the course are exposed to the practical constraints and opportunities of producing actual design projects for real clients. This on-the-job experience is unique and invaluable.

Of special note is The Talk Chart, created by Alan Robins and the Design Studio students. It is a Sappi award winner, and is distributed worldwide free of charge to thousands of hospitals. It is an aid for the infirm to help them communicate.

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Maverick publisher Lyle Stuart died a year and a half ago, June 2006. I worked for him beginning twenty years ago, until he sold the company, Lyle Stuart Inc., to Steven Schragis and Carol Publishing in 1989. Lyle and I shared a warm relationship over the next 2 decades and I wrote this remembrance to honor him when he passed.

Lyle Stuart

Lyle Stuart’s accomplishments are myriad. Several bestsellers, many more free speech battles, and even more lawsuits and feuds. He loved a good fight, and was not afraid to take an unpopular stand, as his FBI records obtained by the Freedom of Information act could attest. He supported Castro during the revolution and published The Anarchist Cookbook. The bumper sticker on his company car stated in bold type “Question Authority.”

He was my boss, the first to hire me as an in-house art director in 1987. He was also my friend. Everything about him was oversized: his bulk, his features, his outrageousness, his generosity. By the time I came on board the elaborate all expenses paid trips for the entire staff were a thing of the past: China, Cuba, even one to a nudist camp out west. Legend had it when The Sensuous Women hit and hit big in the 1960s, he gathered up the entire company, stock workers and all, and took them on a tour of Europe. The phone was ringing off the hook at the office from booksellers trying to place orders, but there was no one there to receive the calls.

When I came along these outings were relegated to trips to Atlantic City. More than once he would stop work mid week and everyone would line up outside his office. There, in single file, they would be handed an envelope. Mine contained $100 in small bills. Once, when my wife tagged along, she received the same.

We then boarded one of two large buses, led by a black limousine carrying Lyle and his wife Carole. On board, we could drink (there was a bartender in tow) or watch movies. When we arrived in Atlantic City and debarked, Lyle stood by the door and handed us each a coupon for $15 of free tokens and a free lunch. Following him to the suite upstairs that he rented, which was fully catered (in case anyone didn’t want to spend their time in the casino) he unsnapped the brown valise he was carrying. In it was what I estimated to be $10,000 in cash. Story was, if you were losing money and followed Lyle around for the day, he would refresh your supply.

Lyle was a gambler. He gambled with books, the more controversial the better. He gambled with personal wealth, starting a new publishing company when most his age were entering retirement, and gave away much of what he made to his loyal staff when he sold his old one. One time, when I was working into the evening, Lyle returned to the office from a private trip to Atlantic City, buoyant. He had won and won big. A timid gambler myself, I asked him if over the course of his lifetime he won more than he lost. I now regret the question. He paused a moment and answered in his usual forthright manner: lost. Thinking back, on that instance, and his passing, I realize he was wrong.

John Gall and I are speaking at Millersville University in Lancaster, for the Ad Club of Central PA on November 28. We designed the poster below without either of us knowing what the other was doing.

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I just returned from Kutztown University, where I was one of two keynote speakers at their design/art education conference. It is a beautiful area, the fall leaves in full bloom and I wished I had more time to spend. The conference was well run, and I think my talks (I did 3 events) went well. The other keynote speaker was from IDEO, and she was excellent, and their global approach to design stood in sharp contrast to my mom and pop (or just pop) approach. Hey, I like that, Pop Design. Okay, © 2007 Steven Brower, you heard it here first!

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There is a nice feature on me in the current issue of Step Inside Design, written by my friend and colleague at Kean University Robin Landa. In addition there is also an article on the “Get Your Masters with the Masters” graduate program at Marywood University, where I have taught since 1995.

stepinsidedesign.com

The entire article has been posted online, sans art:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5326/is_200711/ai_n21298058

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