22 October 2009

April Greiman And The Politics Surrounding Her

Looking at April Greiman’s work it is easy to spot her as a contemporary designer. Greiman was instrumental in bringing in the style “New Wave” to the States. This style was a rebellious approach to compositions and type forms, disregarding the practiced disciplines “New Wave” experimented with spacing, type weight, and angular type changing the way we viewed not only the words we read but how we read them and viewed the space they sat in. In the mid 80’s Greiman was able to take these ­­­ideals further with the introduction of the Macintosh computer to graphic designers. Greiman was one of the first to embrace the new design tool leading the way for many more designers and acting as an icon for female designers across the globe.

The 1970’s saw Greiman graduate from the Kansas City Arts Institute before studying in Switzerland at the Allgemeine Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel. By 1975 she was working with Emilio Ambasz in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, before swiftly trading coast to open up her own graphic design studio “Made In Space, Inc.” by the end of ‘76. Through out this time heavy oppressions seemed to lie over America. The Vietnam War was only just coming to an end and as it did Nixon’s “Watergate Scandal “ was just beginning to surface, the people were starting to feel disillusioned by their government and its propaganda. Work forces began to revolt and the 70’s saw many strikes across a variety of businesses. People were fed up with the conditions they had been told to live with and decided to make a stand. Greiman in her own way did this graphically through contemporary, fresh and rebellious type forms that threw away old methods and made a stand about open mindedness and new ways of thinking.

After WW2, up until the 70’s the U.S. had enjoyed years of economic growth. As Greiman returned to the States she was met by an all time high in unemployment, the value of the U.S. dollar was sinking along with it’s nation’s spirits and an energy crisis which would soon give way to the oil crisis of the 80’s. Despite this Greiman’s visions stood strong. With the consumer age of the 80’s we were also presented with the Macintosh, as Greiman jumped on the idea of utilising this new machinery she also saw it as an economic tool from which we moved away from working with matter (creating waste) and towards working with light.

The film industry had flourished throughout the Vietnam War surviving on pumped up noble war themes and heroic tales but as the attitude of the nation was changing it was not lost on the industry. Films such as “The Presidents Men”(1976) were brought out in reaction to the government and incidences such as “The Watergate Scandal”. Towards the end of the decade the anger and the steam had ran dry it seemed and into the 80’s people began to look more towards escapism in their leisure time, hence the release of films such as “Star Wars” (1977). But beyond the stage stars were starting to be utilised more for the way they were perceived by public to advertise and feed the society the idea that they could have everything too, all they had to do was go out and buy lots of possessions so that they could be glamorous and happy just like the people on screen… welcome to the 80’s, the birth of “The Me Decade”. This inward attitude of a materialistic and selfish society is not one Greiman embraced. Her work through this decade to me does not reflect necessarily any general view of society at that time, but rather focuses more on the concepts behind each individual piece of work and reflects the excitement surrounding new digital media available to the design world.

Throughout her work Greiman has pushed the boundaries of how we view type and composition, but the Swiss influences are often evident. Armin Hofmann, a tutor of Greiman was also one of the leading figures to develop the “Swiss Style” in the 1950’s. This was a style of typography that focused on cleanliness, legibility and objectivity. This was a great influence on Greiman, this methid of viewing type and it’s space was the starting point Greiman used to move further, stretching the boundaries of view points to create the style “New Wave” as we know it today.

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