Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Caldecott Medal Announced for Illustration of Children's Literature

The 2010 Caldecott Medal winner is The Lion & the Mouse, illustrated and written by one of my favorite illustrators, Jerry Pinkney (left). Readers are transported to Africa's Serengeti plains for this virtually wordless retelling of Aesop’s classic fable. Jerry Pinkney’s watercolor illustrations are relatively realistic representations of characters including an owl, a mouse and a lion.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

2010 Honor Books are All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, published by Beach Lane Books and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman, published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Show Pinkney's book to school officials, board members, and university leaders and ask them why being able to create and interpret this kind of visual retelling of a classic fable is not considered a basic skill in general education. See if you can get visual communication added to the list of basic skills which now includes written communication, oral communication and numerical literacy.

Click on the heading above to see more of Jerry Pinkney's illustration work.

2010 Pritzker Prize for Architecture Announced

Each year about this time The Pritzer Architecture Prize, the architecture profession’s most prestigious award, is announced. This is a good time to introduce a unit on architecture because there will be national architecture news online, on TV, and in magazines and newspapers.

This year the Pritzker has been given to Kazuyo Sejima (right) and Ryue Nishizawa (left), partners in the Tokyo–based architecture firm SANAA formed in 1995. It is not often that the prize is awarded to a team or more than one person. The winning partners were recognized for their ability to create buildings where the physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities, and landscapes.

SANAA’s projects have included the New Museum’s new building in New York city, the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. SANAA's Zollverein School of Management and Design (right), in Essen, Germany, was completed in 2006. The Pritzker jury included 1998 Pritzker winner Renzo Piano and seven other architects.

Their new Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, opened earlier this year, and they are currently at work designing a satellite branch of Paris’s Louvre museum for Lens, France. Sejima was also recently named director of the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennial, becoming the first woman to hold the position.

Previous Pritzker winners have included many of the profession’s leading architects, including Philip Johnson (the first recipient, in 1979), Richard Meier, and Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron, who were the last partners to share the prize.

Click on the heading above to learn more about the Pritzker Prize.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Power of Visual Storytelling

Videos are designed just like any other visual media. Like many design messages, "story" is one of the key components. A skillful designer can communicate a great deal of story with few words in a short amount of time through visual storytelling.

In a skillfully designed video from the UK (part of a new campaign from Sussex Safer Roads Partnership), entitled Embrace Life, they powerfully advocate for the use of seat belts. Avoiding the use of blood, gore or shock tactics, Embrace Life creates an emotional response in the viewers.

The piece was created by Neil Hopkins, Communications Manager, and Director Daniel Cox to be non-language specific, so that the message wouldn’t become lost when viewed by visitors or residents for whom English might not be their first language. There is only one setting (a living room) and only about 19 editing cuts in the 1 minute 28 second piece with effective use of slow motion, zooms, pans, tracking shots and editing to the beat of the musical phrases.

Students can be challenged to create powerful visual stories that capture the viewer in 30 seconds to a minute without words or overused sensational imagery. They can demonstrate this in storyboards if there is not time or resources to shoot and edit videos. They can also learn to analyze video by looking at the editing choices used in Embracing Life. Among the slow motion shots, look for an edit that is so fast it is almost imperceptible to heighten the drama of the moment of impact.

Click on the heading above to see this powerful short video.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2020 Vision: the Decade of Design Education 2010-2020

The International Design Education Alliance for Schools (IDEAS) is launching 2020 Vision: the Decade of Design Education 2010-2020 on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

This forum will look at Design Education Policies that might need to be put in place to provide K-12 students with design education as part of regular instruction in schools; Teacher Preparation that might be necessary to help teachers provide design education to students in the design of messages, objects, places, and experiences; and Student Services such as scholarships, awards, competitions, recognition, events, etc. that will encourage students to study design in K-12 schools.

Contact Robin Vande Zande at or Martin Rayala at for more information.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

World Industrial Design Day - June 29, 2010

In celebration of World Industrial Design Day on June 29, 2010, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) invites designers from around the globe to initiate events reflecting this year's theme:

"Industrial Design: Humane solutions for a resilient world"

This topic was selected to facilitate collaboration within the industrial design community with the goal of producing tangible solutions to world problems.

This theme stems from the recent 'Uniting Designers in Disaster' initiative launched on Facebook on 22 January in light of the disaster in Haiti and conveys the important role industrial design can play in global issues.

While the theme for WIDD 2010 calls on the design community to contribute their knowledge and skill, this day of observance is significant in fostering a global understanding of industrial design and all that it encompasses.

Below are a few ideas intended for the professional design community but might inspire schools to commemorate the occasion:

Send a message to your members, students and contacts in your network announcing that WIDD will take place on 29 June, 2010.
Distribute a press release to your media network expressing your support for WIDD.
Include a WIDD component to an existing event taking place around the same date, such as a design exhibition, conference or workshop.
Engage with local, regional and national levels of government to highlight industrial design's value for economic and social growth.
Host your own original event (workshop, celebration, educational conference, etc) in the honour of WIDD.
Support WIDD by creating a social media community to discuss all things industrial design.

By taking part in the World of Industrial Design Day celebrations, you and your students can contribute to the advancement of industrial design through nurturing a global understanding for the discipline.

Try the following:
- Celebratory social event
- Educational and/or Professional conference
- Educational and/or Professional workshop
- Competition
- Panel discussion
- Public awareness activity
- Free public admission to design museums and exhibits
- Host an exhibit or retrospective about industrial design

Click on the heading above to go to the ICSID website.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another Mickey Mouse Attraction

I'm intentionally posting this because it hits so many hot buttons for people trying to figure out the relationship between art, visual culture, design and visual communication. Being a senior sculptor (dimensional designer) for Disney is quite an accomplishment. You have to be really good to get that job.

But for traditional art teachers, this poses so many problems. First of all - it's Disney. It is meant to appeal to children, to mass audiences, to popular tastes, to families from around the world. This is so much not the rare, unique, one-of-a-kind, hard to get, hand-made, personal self-expression that "Art" represents. It strikes artists as common, low-brow, lacking in creativity, commercial, profit-driven, lowest-common-denominator, and too popular.

What some people see as tremendously successful visual culture and design, others only see as failed art. While the rest of the world sees people like Walt Disney and Frank Frazetta as representatives of the top of their field, we often convey to students (overtly or covertly) that this is bad. We have to diversify our language to help people understand the place of visual culture in the world rather than avoid it and relegate something they love to something that in some way is "bad".

Silly Symphony Swings is a new attraction coming to Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure park. The photo above (right) shows Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Dimensional Designer Steve Cotroneo sculpting a four-foot tall Mickey Mouse that you can now see at the very top of Silly Symphony Swings.

Silly Symphony Swings is a classic swing attraction, and it’s themed to Walt Disney’s animated short, “The Band Concert” (1935). In the musical cartoon, Mickey Mouse is trying to conduct a presentation of the “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini, but Donald Duck interrupts him and chaos follows. When Mickey finally regains control of his orchestra, they are all swept up in a passing tornado.

In the attraction, guests will see Mickey conducting the barnyard orchestra, and as a tornado passes through the Park, the central tower begins to rise and spin, and Mickey’s band concert really swings into high gear.

On the left is concept art of the Silly Symphony Swings showing the Orange Stinger ride reenvisioned with a Mickey Mouse theme based on the 1935 cartoon “The Band Concert.”

Click on the heading above to see a video of the installation of the completed Mickey sculpture at the Disney blog.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Martin Scorsese advocates for visual literacy in schools

Edutopia (right), an online publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), has a video of famed film director, Martin Scorsese (left), talking about the importance of young people learning to be visually literate in regard to film and video.

Scorsese talks about students learning to see and understand the impact of close-ups, medium shots, long shots, pans, tilts, dollies, zooms, etc. as part of the grammar of film. He argues that students need to be able to understand the emotional impact and storytelling power of film and video.

Scorsese acknowledges that images are powerful tools and students need to be educated about how ideas and emotions are expressed through visual forms as well as words and numbers.

There is a systematic bias against visual literacy in many educational institutions from universities on down. Universities, State Education Agencies, and K-12 school systems do not include visual communication in their lists of basic skills along with reading, writing, and mathematics. The ability to learn, think, and communicate with images, objects, environments, and experiences is not currently recognized as "scholarly".

Scorsese sees that bias as short-sighted and outdated with the increased ability to view, create and disseminate visual messages today. Schools run the risk of falling behind the times by not acknowledging these visual modes as viable ways in which students learn, think and communicate.

Click on the heading above to see the 11 minute video of Martin Scorsese advocating for visual literacy for young people at the Edutopia website.