debbie millman

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Gorgeous Goddaughter Maya Belle Vit

Maya Belle Vit was born on April 27, 2007 at 1:06 am. Proud parents are Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit. They are also exhausted, as the she weighed in at a whopping 9lb 9oz!

The beautiful girl
the most beautiful baby girl!

My goddaughter and her mom
bryony and her daughter

Daddy's little girl, literally
maya and daddy

Grandma and granddaughter and moi
maya and me and grandma

Me and my goddaughter!
me and maya belle vit, my gorgeous goddaughter

Friday, April 27, 2007

Surface To Air, Design To Music

What fun to work with Gordon Hull of Surface To Air to curate an all music broadcast of Design Matters. We were chair-dancing all through the broadcast.

This was our playlist:

unkle "back and forth"
m83 vs aphex twin vs khia "pussylicker"
moondog "birds lament"
david bryne and brian eno "moonlight in glory"
an original composition by gordon hull
masanka sankayi and kasai allstars "wa muluendu"
martha reeves and the vandellas "heatwave"
the katjenjammers "cars"
sir maxwell "one thousand"
lynn taitt and the jets "storm warning"
the clash "train in vain"
boys next door "somebodys watching"
jesus and mary chain "far gone and out"
malcolm mclaren "double dutch"
the klf "3 am eternal"

we didn't play:
the go team "huddle formation"

enjoy!

Design Matters Today with Surface To Air

Joining me today on a very special broadcast of Design Matters is Gordon Hull. Gordon will be curating an episode of "music to design by."

Gordon Hull is a founding member and one of the creative directors of Surface to Air, the multidisciplinary creative group based in New York, Paris and Tokyo. Formed out of a beat up old loft on Union Square in 1997, the groups activities include (but are not limited to) art direction, branding and brand development, fashion design, interior design, industrial and product design, music production, film and video direction, graphic design, publishing, curation, and magic. In addition to their boutique in Paris, they have recently added a second shop in Sao Paolo, Brazil. To see more of their work, you can go to http://surface2air.com/

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link: http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link: http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Lots of choices.

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Birthday Annie Hall

beautiful annie

Woody Allen's amazing film Annie Hall turns 30 (!) today. Edward Copeland wrote a wonderful article about it here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Crouching Towards Bethlehem

I recently conducted a google search for the term “nappy-headed ho’s” and to my dismay, the phrase garnered 2,530,000 hits including a sponsored link from a site that is now selling t-shirts extolling the statement “I am a nappy-headed ho.” Other top-rated links included a Yahoo site responding to the reader question, “What is a nappy-headed ho?” and at least 400 YouTube videos either in support or calling for the resignation of Don Imus for saying the term “nappy-headed hos.” I think you get my point. Suddenly “nappy-headed ho” is part of our verbal vernacular and it seems that every news article, every television report, every blog and every video site deems it entirely appropriate to keep repeating, ad nauseum, this phrase that has outraged the nation and most of the talk-shows advertisers.

As offensive and repugnant as Imus’ comments were, I find can’t help but wonder where both the listening public and the show’s advertisers have been for the last twenty years during his previous broadcasts. While this particular phrase is a first for Imus, this type of communication is not. As noble as Don’s reported extracurricular activities might be, this is not Imus’ first foray in using terminology that is racist, sexist, misogynistic, and language that is rude, crude, mean, spiteful and nasty. Whether this is schtick or whether it is genuine makes no difference to this non-listener.

Used to be, in the not so distant past, the news media either bleeped out provocative and offensive language; for example, the word “fuck” was always spelled out “f*@k.” Even the MTV video awards had a short time delay when broadcasting in an effort to avoid the embarrassment of airing celebrities cursing or embarrasing their sponsors. Mel Gibson’s anti-semetic diatribe was censored. Michael Richard’s racist nervous breakdown was edited for national television and even Janet Jackson’s so-called “wardrobe malfunction” was called as such, rather than “nipple alert” or “booby trap.” Further, the pesky breast at hand was always covered up in the subsequent mainstream media coverage.

So why is the phrase “nappy headed ho’s” acceptable language to repeat? Why is this exact terminology the most repeated part of the discussion? Is this supposed to engage us? Is this supposed to outrage us further? Are we now, as a culture, addicted to shtick or to shock, or to both?

What is the responsibility of the media in reporting and commenting accurately and explicitly? In the last few days, amid the grief and the agony of the massacre at Virginia Tech, I came upon an article in the L.A. Times with this title: “Amid controversy, NBC ratings rise by showing Virginia Tech gunman images.” The article goes on to report that “While many viewers were repulsed by NBC's decision to broadcast videos and photos from the Virginia Tech gunman, the scoop translated into a ratings bonanza for the network, and further relates how "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams," which led its Wednesday broadcast with rambling diatribes the killer recorded and mailed to the network, easily bested the competing newscasts on ABC and CBS.

Does the general public really need to be continually assaulted with the images and verbal “manifesto” (so to speak) of a madman preparing to go on a homicidal rampage? And is it possible that anyone with a heart really cares to know that NBC’s ratings are up this week? NBC News said in a statement issued late last week that it gave "careful consideration" to distributing the material and that it would limit the usage of the videos. In the meantime, there seems to be widespread circulation of the photos and videos all over the mainstream media and over 7,000 videos on YouTube. 7,000 videos!

And yet, among all of this virulent frothing of offensiveness, the government still wants to limit how many coffins we see of dead soldiers in an effort to protect the public from morbid imagery and unfortunate spectacle. It is a sobering time in this nation of ours. The images before us and the decisions being made--the state of our collective soul is at stake in a race for ratings in the guise of information and entertainment, power and control. Those that refute this suggest that the images and messages being thrust upon us now are actually helping prevent horrors like this from happening again. But I, for one, find it hard to believe that the relentless repetition of offensive messages and repugnant behavior is in any way prescriptive. I can’t imagine how this could possibly assist in efforts to rise above our penchant for brutal violence and mass propaganda. That the killer referenced the brutal murders at Columbine quashes this rationale instantly.

One year after 9/11, artist Eric Fischl created a bronze sculpture in Rockefeller Center that was meant to commemorate those who jumped or fell to their deaths from the World Trade Center. Titled "Tumbling Woman," it depicted a naked woman with her arms and legs flailing above her head, as if in a backward somersault.

Eric Fishl's "Tumbling Woman"

As soon as it went on view, it drew complaints, and after only a few days on display, it was abruptly draped in cloth and subsequently surrounded by a curtain wall.

"The sculpture was not meant to hurt anybody," Fischl said in a statement. "It was a sincere expression of deepest sympathy for the vulnerability of the human condition. Both specifically towards the victims of Sept. 11 and towards humanity in general."

Nevertheless, the sculpture was removed, and to this day it has never been displayed again. All that remains publicly available is a poem by Fischl, which appeared on a plaque near the sculpture, and read:

We watched,
disbelieving and helpless,
on that savage day.
People we love
began falling,
helpless and in disbelief


Five and a half years later, we are still watching and disbelieving. The difference now is that we are not helpless. But what are designers doing to communicate the worlds injustices? Last week I saw Mirko Ilic give a presentation wherein he questioned the audience as to why there wasn't any major art and design representing what is going on now in our culture. Where is this generations Guernica? Where is our Desert Storm memorial?

As designers and communicators, we can make a difference. We must. If not, what else can we do? If not now, when?

Design Matters Today with Janet Froelich

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Janet Froelich.

Janet Froelich is Creative Director of The New York Times Magazine and of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Under her direction, The New York Times Magazines have won more than 60 gold and silver awards from The Art Directors Club, The Society of Publication Designers, and the Society of Newspaper Designers and have been finalists for SPD’s Magazine of the Year Award every year since the award’s inception. Froelich’s work has appeared in the annuals of the AIGA, the Type Directors Club, Graphis, Print, American Photography and American Illustration. In 1999 The New York Times Magazine won the Magazine of The Year award from the Society of Publication Designers and was honored with a retrospective show at The Art Director’s Club in New York City.

In 2004, Froelich oversaw the repositioning and redesign of the Part II publications of The New York Times Magazine, creating a new monthly style magazine devoted to men’s and women’s fashion, design, food and travel. This publishing venture, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, has received wide acclaim in the fashion and design communities. And in 2006 she oversaw the design of the launch of Play: The New York Times Sports Magazine, and Key: The New York Times Real Estate Magazine. Play was named one of the 10 best magazine launches of the year by Media Industry Newsletter.

Janet is a 2006 recipient of The Art Directors Club Hall of Fame award, a past member of the board of directors of the Society of Publication Designers, a past president of The New York Chapter of the AIGA, and has served on the faculty of The School of Visual Arts graduate and undergraduate design programs.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 69 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link: http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link: http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Lots of choices.

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Night: Women Rule

Tonight: Women Rule

Adobe Presents the Backstory: ADC Young Guns Live

A four-part lecture series exploring the work, history, hurdles, goals and aspirations of ADC Young Guns.

Five female Young Guns — one from each ADC YG class — have taken very different paths, made tough choices, and carved out fulfilling careers in a challenging industry. These creative stars will share their work, their visions of the future, and open their portfolios for a peak inside.

Prior to each evening's program, Adobe presents a one-hour tutorial on Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 Design Premium, led by Adobe Certified Trainer Scott Citron. Design content for today — and tomorrow — with Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 Design Premium software. Design Premium combines all-new versions of essential tools for professional page layout, image editing, illustration, and Adobe PDF workflows with new tools for creating engaging websites, interactive experiences, and mobile content.

The Women Vanguard
Thursday, April 19, 2007 @ADC Gallery
5:30 pm Adobe Workshop
7:00 pm Presentation

Featuring five exceptional women:

Tracy Boychuk, Trooper, YG1 (1998)
Leanne Shapton, J&L Books, YG2 (2000)
Julie Hirschfeld, Stiletto, YG3 (2002)
Deanne Cheuk, Deanne Cheuk Design, YG4 (2004)
Stella Bugbee, Stella Bugbee Design, YG5 (2006)

I'll be moderating the discussion. Join us to see where the Vanguard leads.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Monday through Wednesday

Friday, April 13, 2007

Brian Was

what i saw

Brian was short and tall, light and dark; he was smart and silly and arrogant, and sometimes he was a pain in the ass. Brian was a newly minted producer and editor in the film business after graduating from a swanky university, and he had a circle of swanky, about to become famous celebrity friends who were all thin and beautiful and sharp. But the thing about Brian was this: he had potential. Brian had the kind of charisma that you felt before you saw, and once you took it all in, you were convinced that he was destined for greatness and maybe, just maybe, if you were lucky, you could magically ride his stylish coat tails, and slide in to home base on his first up at bat.

Brian was the boyfriend of my roommate Christopher. I decided I hated Brian the moment I met him. Mostly, looking back on it now, I came to this decision largely because I was jealous that he would take Christopher away from me. This wasn’t jealous in a cute “Will and Grace” kind of way, this was jealous in a “way before Will and Grace not very gracious kind of way,” primarily because I felt threatened, and I was petty and insecure and didn’t feel that I could compare to the fabulousness of everything that was Brian.

The boys actually met and fell in love before Christopher moved in with me; but shortly after committing to each other, Brian went off to shoot a series of films in Berlin. For months on end, I listened to Christopher agonize in longing over his long distance love, but as a single girl living in Manhattan in the early ‘80s, I was happy to have the genuine companionship of a vibrant, gorgeous, gay young astrologer nee playwright who seemed to adore our cohabitation despite fervently missing the love of his then young life.

The orbit around Brian descended on our fourth floor tenement walk-up when he came back from his film shoot in Berlin. Christopher was madly in love, Brian made a mad dash to establish himself as head of our little household, and I was just plain mad that I had to compete with him for the love and affection of my roommate. Since we lived in a railroad flat, I had to walk through their bedroom in order to get to mine, and while this was oddly comforting and convenient before Brian moved in, afterwards it was mostly annoying to all of us, for obvious reasons.

This arrangement lasted for a mere month or so when we all realized that our living arrangement wasn’t going to work, and Christopher and Brian quickly found a fabulous new apartment and moved out. I was despondent and slightly bitter, but I tried to put on a brave face for my dear friend who had finally found some happiness and true love.

The new apartment was a duplex with lots of light and they went about gleefully decorating it. Brian had one piece of art he took with him everywhere. It was a big, graphic print by Barbara Kruger featuring a silkscreened image of a beleaguered Christ on the Crucifix with bold typographic statements emblazoned across his body that read “We Don’t Need Another Hero…Manias Become…To Touch The Skin Of Other Men.” This print mesmerized me for two reasons: one, because it was incredibly powerful and beautiful, and two, because it was a “real” piece of art. Other than my mothers life-like portrait paintings hung all over my childhood home, and paintings hung in museums, I had never seen a genuine piece of art, complete with a signature and a number, hanging in someone’s living room. Further, I was awestruck by the statement, “We Don’t Need Another Hero…Manias Become…To Touch The Skin Of Other Men” and I spent hours transfixed on the print, rearranging the phrases, imagining the order that Barbara Kruger preferred and intended.

By this time Brian and I had reached a truce of sorts. Without ever discussing it, I think we mutually recognized that we were pig-headed and territorial, but because we both loved Christopher, we quietly tolerated each other, offering up only an occasional eye roll when one of us was being particularly bitchy.

In 1989, Brian got sick. Really sick. It started with Kaposi’s Sarcoma and continued into full blown AIDS. By the time “Poison,” a film he executive produced for Todd Haynes, came out he could barely walk. Astonishingly, he found rollerblading an easier way to get around and I often saw him on the streets of Chelsea, a wry smile on his face, as he zipped around bicyclists and pedestrians. Despite my abhorrence for all things physical, he became determined to teach me how to skate and I begrudgingly agreed to a lesson. I will never forget the autumn day he attempted to teach me. Brian was skinny and pale and he held my hand as he tried to guide me to grace. I was awkward, clumsy and covered head to toe in protective gear. Together, we laughed in mock horror as I fell, time after time after time. We both knew that this was likely going to be our last afternoon playing together and despite all our differences over the years, we held hands as tight as we could, not only because I needed the support, but also because we didn’t want to let go. One of the last things he said to me that afternoon was this: don’t be so afraid of failing and falling. You will always get up.

Brian died on February 27th, 1992. He was twenty-nine years old. After he passed away, Christopher didn’t want to live in their apartment anymore, but he still had to fulfill his lease. I offered to sublet the apartment from him so that I could try to do the one thing that I was so afraid of failing at: making art. I would sublet their apartment and try to use it as a painting studio.

The day I moved in was warm and sunny. The apartment was big and white and silent, and as I walked around the familiar space, my footsteps echoed in the emptiness. When I got to the bedroom I saw a package leaning against the wall. Taped to the front was a hand-written note from Christopher that read: “Brian wanted you to have this.” As I pulled away the brown wrapping paper, I saw it was the Barbara Kruger print I had admired for so long, so long ago.

Design Matters Today with Barbara Kruger

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Barbara Kruger.

Barbara Kruger is an artist, a writer and a photographer. She attended Syracuse University and the School of Visual Arts where she was taught by Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel. A graphic designer and art director for Harper’s Bazaar in the 1960s, she then went on to become an art director at Mademoiselle magazine.

Ms. Kruger’s background in design is evident in the work for which she is now internationally renowned. She layers found photographs from existing sources with pithy and aggressive text that involves the viewer in the struggle for power and control that her captions speak to. In their trademark black letters against a slash of red background, some of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground." Much of her text questions the viewer about feminism, classicism, consumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, although her black-and-white images are culled from the mainstream magazines that sell the very ideas she is disputing. As well as appearing in museums and galleries worldwide, Kruger’s work has appeared on billboards, bus cards, posters, a public park, a train station platform in Strasbourg, France, and in 2005 Kruger was honored at the 51st Venice Biennale with the "Golden Lion" for Lifetime Achievement.

For the past decade Kruger has created installations comprised of video, film, audio and projection. Enveloping the viewer with the seductions of direct address, her work is consistently about the kindnesses and brutalities of social life: about how we are to one another. Ms. Kruger is currently a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 64 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link: http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link: http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Lots of choices.

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why Kyle Cooper is the Master

Forget the title sequence to Se7en, this demo reel proves why he is the very best.

The Best Cigarette



Poem by Billy Collins
Animation by David Vaio/FAD
Directed by Will Hyde/FAD

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We Are So Much Less Powerful Than We Think

power of ten

From LiveScience.com :

"Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.

Fools.

The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000 tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do not think this will be easy."

If you still want to try, here is the definitive list.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Which Version Is Better?

The Version by Alanis


The Original by The Black Eyed Peas


The Lyrics (term used loosely)

"My Humps"
What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)

I drive these brothers crazy,
I do it on the daily,
They treat me really nicely,
They buy me all these ices.
Dolce & Gabbana,
Fendi and NaDonna
Karan, they be sharin'
All their money got me wearin' fly
Brother I ain't askin,
They say they love my ass ‘n,
Seven Jeans, True Religion's,
I say no, but they keep givin'
So I keep on takin'
And no I ain't taken
We can keep on datin'
I keep on demonstrating.

My love (love), my love, my love, my love (love)
You love my lady lumps (love),
My hump, my hump, my hump (love),
My humps they got you,

Chorus: She's got me spending.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me and spending time on me.
She's got me spendin'.
(Oh) Spendin' all your money on me, up on me, on me

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon' do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I'm a make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
Cos of my hump (ha), my hump, my hump, my hump (what).
My hump, my hump, my hump (ha), my lovely lady lumps (Check it out)

I met a girl down at the disco.
She said hey, hey, hey yea let's go.
I could be your baby, you can be my honey
Let's spend time not money.
I mix your milk wit my cocoa puff,
Milky, milky cocoa,
Mix your milk with my cocoa puff, milky, milky riiiiiiight.

They say I'm really sexy,
The boys they wanna sex me.
They always standing next to me,
Always dancing next to me,
Tryin' a feel my hump, hump.
Lookin' at my lump, lump.
You can look but you can't touch it,
If you touch it I'ma start some drama,
You don't want no drama,
No, no drama, no, no, no, no drama
So don't pull on my hand boy,
You ain't my man, boy,
I'm just tryn'a dance boy,
And move my hump.

My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
In the back and in the front (lumps)
My lovin' got you,

Repeat Chorus

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon' do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I'ma make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off this hump.
What you gon' do wit all that breast?
All that breast inside that shirt?
I'ma make, make, make, make you work
Make you work, work, make you work.

(A-ha, a-ha, a-ha, a-ha) [x4]
(edit. note: the x4 is really crucial here)

Repeat Chorus (and then, blissfully, it is over).

Friday, April 06, 2007

Paris is Kerning

Way before Paris, Lindsay and Britney, prior to Madonna, Cher and Barbra, previous to Marilyn, Lana and Rita, even before May and Bettie, there was Lillie Langtry. Lillie Langtry (née Emilie Charlotte Le Breton) was an English actress born in 1853. But Lillie wasn’t famous for her superb skills as a thespian; rather she was famous simply for being famous. An ambitious young country girl, Lille Langtry orchestrated her rise to prominence by having her portrait painted by the artists John Millias and Whistler and then advertising her fabulousness on postcards sold for a penny. In short, Lillie Langtry was the world’s first celebrity.

While the 20th century did not invent the cult of celebrity, this was the era in which fame was elevated to the status of an industry. Nowadays, all those either famous (or seeking fame) have a regimen of publicists, paparazzi, agents, lawyers and bodyguards ready to emblazon their image on the cover of tabloids, reality television, You Tube and shows such as Entertainment Tonight. Celebrities are not famous for their dramatic talent or musical ability or sports acumen or their capacity to make large sums of money. Celebrities now are famous just for being famous.

For as long as I can remember I have had an intense fascination with a type of celebrity. My first serious crush was on The Brady Bunch’s Marcia Brady: I spent hours pouring through Tiger Beat for every morsel I could muster out of the magazine—what she wore, who she was dating, even what product she used to wash her hair. After Marcia, I became entranced with Karen Carpenter, followed by Olivia Newton John, then Laura Nyro, Patti Smith, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones. By the time I fell under the spell of Stevie Nicks, my pattern of infatuation was set: I studied the album cover art with the precision of a biologist, memorized all the the lyrics of songs they sang, and took on the eerily obsessive habit of trying to imitate each performers personal style. In other words, when I was bewitched by Joni, I donned fringy vests and choker necklaces made of seashells, when I was besotted by Laura, I stopped shaving my legs, and when I was spell bound by Stevie, I wore long gauzy shawls and platform boots. Somehow I believed that if I imitated the visual personas of these artists, I too, could become an artist, complete with their flair, savoir-faire, popularity, success and charm.

In his book “Celebrity and Power,” David Marshall writes "celebrity is a way in which meaning can be housed and categorized into something that provides a source and origin for meaning. Whatever thoughts, feelings and intuitions people may have, particularly about what may constitute the good life can be arranged under appropriate celebrity 'headings', each labeled with a celebrity face.” So it is not really surprising that an impressionable teenager searching for style would attempt to emulate celebrity heroes, whether it be the way they dress or sing or even behave.

I believe that this fracturing of identity, so to speak, is in some ways part of our human nature, as we experiment with who we are and what we want to become. But the constant widening of the gulf between achievement and popular adulation leaves us hooked on a literal play by play of celebrities famous for simply being famous. Why do we need such drama and spectacle? The sturm and drang of Britney and Lindsay and Jen and Angelina pale in comparison to those who truly achieve: scientists and physicists and neurologists and poets.

According to Michael Gellert in his book “The Fate of America: An Inquiry Into National Character,” “Like the cults of prosperity and motion and speed, the cult of celebrity is diffused throughout American culture. The objects of its glorification are not heroic ideals…or godlike abilities, but people. All the same, celebrity is a cult of height because it is connected with status. And the most valued thing in America after prosperity is status. The ultimate version of the good life is to be rich and famous. Fame or celebrity is status publicly celebrated.”

Perhaps we publicly celebrate those who haven’t achieved very much as a projection of how we wish we could be treated for also being ordinary or untalented. After all, as I attempted to mimic my beloved childhood superstars, I think what I was really trying to do was shorten the distance between how I privately felt about myself and how the world publicly felt about these appointed luminaries.

Several years after my foray into the fashion foibles of Fleetwood Mac, I (along with most of the rest of the galaxy) became mesmerized by the phenomena of a new breed of celebrity in the unapologetically ambitious form of Madonna. While the young girls of the world sported rubber bracelets and rhinestone Boy Toy belts, I hesitated with this new look, primarily because I didn’t think I could pull it off. But when Madonna cut and curled her hair and starred opposite Warren Beatty in the movie Dick Tracy, I made my move. With naturally curly ringlets, I crossed my fingers as I tried to morph into a Madonna-esque movie vixen. I debuted my new uber-bleached blonde hairdo, complete with fire engine red lipstick and matching nail polish at my cousins wedding to little or no fanfare until my then 8-year-old cousin Ben beckoned me over to the table where he and his young friends were sitting. He looked at me intently and motioned me closer. Then he leaned over and boldly whispered into my ear: “I know who you are.” I looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?” I responded. “Of course you know who I am!” “No,” he insisted with a smarty pants tone in his voice, “I know who you reaaallllly are.” I looked at him beseechingly, fearful that he didn’t know how or why his mother and I were family. I tried to explain how we were related, but he brushed my words aside and impatiently denounced my identity. “You can’t fool me," he declared. "I know who you are. You’re not my cousin Debbie. You are... Breathless Mahoney.”

And with that, I laughed as I realized that rather than appropriating the appearance of the world’s most fabulous superstar, I had taken on the persona of a colorful albeit popular, two-dimensional animated cartoon character.

Supermarket Brilliance



Ileana Douglas in her fabulous series "Supermarket of the Stars."
This is the "Lost Episode."

Via Coudal, of course.

Design Matters Today with Jeffrey Keyton

Video Music Awards

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Jeffrey Keyton.

Jeffrey Keyton is the Senior Vice President of MTV Design and Off Air Creative and oversees the award-winning design teams for MTV: Music Television and MTV2 and visual branding for both MTV2 and MTV’s 24-hour college network, mtvU. During his 20 years at the company, he’s been instrumental in helping to define MTV’s unique and distinctive visual personality by creating innovative and constantly-changing on air designs which have contributed to making MTV one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Additionally, Mr. Keyton oversees the creation of a vast array of off-air materials for such marquis events as the “MTV Video Music Awards” and the “MTV Movie Awards,” and for individual programming including: “Total Request Live” and “Fanatic.”

His creativity and innovative expertise can be seen throughout the two music networks. In January 2001. Mr. Keyton was the visionary force behind the decision for MTV to shut down its air waves for the first time in the channel’s 20 year history, and run a scroll for 17 hours straight, listing the names of hundreds of people who have been the victims of hate crimes across the country. Outside of MTV, Mr. Keyton also shares his knowledge and foresight with the designers of tomorrow by teaching senior design portfolio at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He also lectures on design and creativity at various industry events across the country and abroad. The work of Mr. Keyton and his team have won numerous awards both in the United States and internationally including the prestigious Clio Award, Gold and Silver Awards from the Broadcast Design Association and the Art Directors Club, as well as the One Show Award.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 66 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link: http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link: http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Lots of choices.

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following: http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Graphical Dissertation on the Number One Song in America

Are You Hot?

From the Village Voice, about Mims' #1 single, so so good!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Speak Up presents The Word It Book

the word it book is here!

The Word It Book: Speak Up presents a gallery of interpreted words

Foreword by Ellen Lupton
Edited by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit
Published by HOW Books

If you want a glimpse of the process of this wonderful book, take a peek here:
http://www.underconsideration.com/speakup/how

To purchase via Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1581809255/uc-20
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Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on DesignObserver.com. In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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