Category Archives: Fine & Applied Arts

My Love Affair with April Greiman

It all started in college.

I was studying graphic design at the University of Illinois when I came across a copy of WET magazine (“gourmet bathing” according to the tagline on the cover). This was in the early 1980s and we’re deep in the minimalist modern “Swiss” era where any decoration in art was frowned upon. So this copy of WET that I held in my hands, well it looked like it came from Mars. It was funky, it was spicy, it smelled of something illegal and it was the opposite of the rational design thinking my professors were trying to instill in their students. It wasn’t until much later that I found out April Greiman was one of the people behind this magazine (even though her name was not on the masthead).

California-style postmodernism as envisioned by April Greiman et al (1979)

As an art student (yes, design was taught in the “art” department), I dutifully imitated what I saw in WET. What I copied was the surface qualities of April’s work. I was an excellent forger, but unfortunately my professors had already ruined me. My mind had already embraced their modernist philosophies, and I couldn’t unlearn what I had already been taught. Little did I know that modernism was already dying a quick death. April Greiman had killed it in California and kick-started the postmodern era in graphic design just as I was about to graduate.

Today, students get to read about April Greiman in history books. She is one of the few female graphic designers acknowledged in an industry dominated by men. When I saw her face in the new documentary “Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production,” I immediately sent her an email. I told her about our upcoming movie premiere event and begged her to join us for a panel discussion after the film. After a little prodding, she said “yes” to a Skype interview.

One of my favorite early April Greiman designs that I tried to rip-off.

“Graphic Means” is a brand-new documentary about the pre-digital period of graphic design known as the “cold type” era (you’ll have to see the movie to understand why the funny name). This is the same era glamorized in the “Mad Men” TV series. Fans of this period are in love with the fashion and furniture design of the “mid-century modern” style as featured in the TV series. But this was also the epitome of overt sexism in the workplace where women were literally worth half as much as men. Both sides of the story are told in great detail in “Graphic Means.”

Vintage retro promo graphic for the “cold type” era (circa 1975)

“Graphic Means” is Briar Levit’s first film and it hits all the marks of a great documentary. From her selection of offbeat on-screen characters she interviewed to her selection of ironic retro archival footage, “Graphic Means” is a rich and amusing visual experience. It’s also stuffed full of fascinating facts and stories not often told. I predict that in time, “Graphic Means” will rise to the level of “Helvetica” as one of the important must-see cultural documentaries of our time. And she made the film with Kickstarter funds and an all-female crew.


“Graphic Means” is currently making the rounds at film festivals, film societies, museums and specialty cinemas in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UK, and across the US (see full list). Champaign is lucky to be on the list of premiere cities and Parkland is very lucky to be able to host both the filmmaker and April Greiman via Skype for a post-screening discussion.

And what about that “love affair” with April? Well I did graduate from the University of Illinois with a BFA and a portfolio of fake postmodern projects (but it made me look “cool” and got me good jobs). Later, after I started teaching graphic design history at Parkland, I really got to know April’s work deeply (since I had to explain what “postmodernism” means to my students). Now my students make Powerpoint presentations about her and design T-shirts that pay tribute to her.

A tribute T-shirt design by Parkland Student Brandon Cherry

And then in 2004, it happened. I met April Greiman for the first time. I was on the board of the now defunct Ad Club of Champaign-Urbana and we had the money to bring someone big and important to town for a presentation. On a lark, we invited April and she came. She even made a stop at Parkland in L111 and chatted with the students.

In 2004, April Greiman visited Champaign-Urbana (click the image above to jump to our Facebook gallery)

As a souvenir, she handed out little “fortune cookie” strips that said “If thinking, think nothing” (it’s a Buddhist thing). Those are now collector’s items. I got to design the promos for her visit and this time I got it right. I was able to capture the joy of flying against convention and breaking rules just for the sake of breaking rules with this experimental web page:

Website promotion designed by Paul Young as a tribute to April Greiman (2004)

And then in 2015, it happened again. On a trip to Las Vegas, my wife and I decided to take a little detour to Joshua Tree National Park. We knew April Greiman owned a motel near there so we booked a few nights at her little hideaway called Miracle Manor. And what a little miracle it is, fed with natural mineral-rich hot springs right from under the motel directly into her pool. And on the day we arrived?April was there with her boyfriend and it was her birthday! Hanging out with April by the pool on this special day? Priceless.

Miracle Manor: April Greiman’s retreat in Desert Hot Springs CA

And now it’s going to happen for a third time. Tomorrow night, I get to moderate a panel discussion about “Graphic Means” with April Greiman participating on the panel live via Skype. Joining us will be four other local designers and educators as well as the director of the film (see complete list of panelists). Am I nervous? Nah not really. She’s a really cool gal and really easy to talk to. Besides, I’ve met her before.

Click the above image to jump to the movie premiere promo site for advanced tickets and all the details.

Discounted advanced ticket sales will end on Tuesday, November 14 at 12 noon, but tickets will still be available at the door. Here are the details of our one-night only movie premiere special event:

Thanks to our generous sponsors, 100% of the box office receipts will benefit Giertz Gallery at Parkland College.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

Graphic Design Students Earn $$ For Excellence

Last night at the 2017 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition opening reception, eight students split $1,100 in cash awards for exhibiting excellent work.

Every year, the students in Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design Programs have the opportunity to showcase their best work in the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College. This year, 207 entries were received and 137 entries were accepted by a jury of our design faculty.

Then, two industry professionals were invited to come in to judge the entries and to select the award winners. This year’s judges were Maria Ludeke, design studio manager at Neutral Design Studio and Ralph Roether, graphic designer at Champaign Park District. Their mission: Find the best 11 pieces in the show and then select the one piece that would receive the coveted “best of show” award.

“Judging this years show proved challenging as we had to pick just one best of show,” said Maria. “These students will do so well moving forward in their careers. They show great creativity, execution, and capacity to make beautiful, thoughtful work.”

“I was honored to be a judge for the Parkland Graphic Design Show,” added Ralph. “It was enlightening to see how many different aspects of design are being taught: print, packaging, logos, identity, history, web, digital, video titles, animation etc. I’m a little jealous. What a fantastic program to have available to our community.”

“I was thrilled to see the breadth of student work produced by Parkland’s Graphic Design program,” added Maria. “The professors at Parkland have prepared them well for transitioning into the professional world of design and marketing.”

Most of the awards were donated by local businesses and supporters of Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs. These friends include Surface 51, The Robeson Family, [co][lab], Studio 2D, and the Champaign-Urbana Design Org (CUDO), who all donated cash awards. CUDO was also the co-sponsor of the opening reception.

More than 270 industry professionals, alumni, friends, family, and students attended the reception. At 6:30 p.m., each of the winners were acknowledged with a round of applause, a certificate, and a check.

Here’s who won:

• Graphic Design Best of Show

Motion Design by Jason Dockins (click image to view)

 

• Illustration Best of Show

Illustration by Shannon Martin

 

• Typography Best of Show

Packaging by Emily Gorski

 

• President’s Award of Excellence

Poster by Shannon Martin

 

• CUDO Award of Excellence

Packaging by Justin Klett

 

• Surface 51 Award of Excellence

Packaging by Brooke Armstrong

 

• Studio 2D Design Strategy Award

Web Mockup by Brooke Armstrong

 

• [co][lab] Award of Excellence

Calendar by Brielle Arnold (Designer), Nikolas Atwood (Copywriter), Jason Dockins (Art Director), Shannon Martins (Illustrator)

 

• Electric Pictures Award of Excellence

Poster by Justin Klett

 

• David M. and Shirley A. Jones Student Art Award

Packaging by Kristy Lau

 

• Fine and Applied Arts Department Chair Award

Book Cover by Emily Gorski

 

The 2017 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition will continue in Parkland’s Giertz Gallery through June 1. Summer gallery hours are Monday–Thursday, 10am–7pm (closed Saturday and Sunday).

To see more examples of student work from Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs, please visit our virtual galleries.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

Parkland Study Abroad: Meet Scott Christopher

What’s the first thing a student tells me when they come back from study abroad? This was the best experience of my life and has changed my life forever.” I encourage you to follow Communication major Scott Christopher Barnes on his life-changing experience abroad and live vicariously through him until you can go on your own Parkland study abroad! In this first video, Scott introduces himself and a few new friends.

Remember, anyone can study abroad; I have people of all ages and backgrounds go on these trips. We have 10-day, 4-week, and 15-week programs available at a variety of times in the academic year.


***The Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs and Parkland College work together to provide opportunities for Parkland students to study abroad. Multiple programs in various countries are available every semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact study abroad coordinator Jody Littleton via email at jlittleton@parkland.edu for more information.

2016 Graphic Design Student Show Awards Announced

Last night at the 2016 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition opening reception, 10 very proud students received $1,400 in cash awards for submitting excellent work.

Every year, the students in Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design Programs submit their best work for jurying by the faculty. This year, 169 entries were chosen by the faculty to be showcased in Parkland’s Giertz Gallery. Then two industry professionals were invited to come in to judge the entries and to select the award winners. This year’s judges were Kelly White, the executive director of 40 North, and Matt Wiley, a well-renowned local illustrator and graphic designer at Taylor Studios. Their mission: find the best 14 pieces in the show and then select the one piece that would receive the coveted “best of show” award.

Most of the awards were donated by local businesses and supporters of Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design Programs. These friends include Surface 51, The Robeson Family, [co][lab], Studio 2D, Six Demon Studio,Wesley Food Pantry and the Champaign-Urbana Design Org (CUDO) who all donated cash awards. CUDO was also the co-sponsor of the opening reception.

Over 200 industry professionals, alumni, friends, family and students attended the reception. At 6:30 p.m., each of the winners were acknowledged with a round of applause, a certificate and a check. Here’s who won:

• Graphic Design Best of Show

klinger_packagingwine
Packaging by Christie Klinger

 

• Illustration Best of Show

klinger_orchidposter
Poster by Christie Klinger

 

• Typography Best of Show

hilary pope herblubalin
Editorial spread by Hilary Pope

 

• President’s Award of Excellence

martin-seven-samurai
Poster by Shannon Martin

 

• CUDO Award of Excellence

klinger_packagingme
Packaging by Christie Klinger

 

• Surface 51 Award of Excellence

Map by Martha Henigman

 

• Studio 2D Design Strategy Award

sarah powers surplus
Brochure by Sarah Powers

 

• Six Demon Studio Award of Excellence

skyler reifsteck
Book cover by Skyler Reifsteck

 

• [co][lab] Award of Excellence

bethany manalo menurevisions4
Menu by Betta Manalo

 

• Wesley Food Pantry Award of Excellence

Brochure by Shannon Martin

 

• Electric Pictures Award of Excellence

Logo by Jordan Bidner

 

• David M. and Shirley A. Jones Student Art Award

jordan bidner bottle
Packaging by Jordan Bidner

 

• Fine & Applied Arts Department Chair Award

maiki bello etiqueta-vino
Packaging by Maiki Bello

 

• Graphic Design Program Director’s Award

rogers-businessapps
Self-promotion by Abby Rogers

 

The 2016 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition will continue in Parkland’s Giertz Gallery until May 28. Summer gallery hours are Monday–Thursday, 10am–7pm and Saturday, noon–2pm.

To see more examples of student work from Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs, please visit our virtual galleries.

IMG_9680                      IMG_9631

 

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

Talk the Talk, w/Help from the Presentation Center

Taking a Parkland College speech class this summer? Does your upcoming syllabus include a team project demonstration? No worries; let our Presentation Center help!

presentationcenter1

Stop by Room C151 with your individual or group presentation project! Trish Barker, one of our COM faculty, will be in the center to help Parkland students and employees with:

  • Organizing or creating oral presentations
  • Creating visuals
  • Overcoming public-speaking anxiety
  • Creating a presentation assignment (faculty)
  • Coaching students through practice sessions (faculty)

We’re open during the 2016 early summer session, May 16–June 2:

8–9 a.m. Monday–Friday
12:30–2:30 p.m. Monday–Friday

A full summer schedule soon will be available at the Presentation Center’s web page.

[Associate Professor Jody Littleton teaches speech communication and serves as Parkland’s Study Abroad coordinator.]