Origin of Obsessions No. 2

All_That_Remains

The newest edition of Kit Hinrichs’ and my “Obsessions” book series is on the arts and crafts made by Japanese Americans held in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. All That Remains is a sequel to my 2005 book titled The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946. While working on that book, I spent many hours reflecting on why people banished by their own country to barrack encampments fenced in by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with rifles pointed at them would take up art with such a fervor that it became an obsession to them. They scrounged for scraps of paper, bits of lumber, empty bottles and cans, and cardboard packaging to use for their art projects and scoured the desert terrain for stones, driftwood and shrubs to carve into new forms. Art served a need far beyond the aesthetic. Although two-thirds of the 120,000 ethnic Japanese forced into camps were American citizens, the older immigrant generation especially, who were in their 50s and 60s, embraced the creation of art as a lifeline. Given less than 10 days notice to turn themselves in and told they could only bring what they could carry. the adults knew their businesses, homes and all their possessions would probably be gone when they were freed to return to the West Coast. In fact, that turned out to be true.

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Profile: Delphine, @Issue Editor

Delphine_Hirasuna
From time to time, @Issue will run brief profiles of people you may know in design communications, asking them what attracted them to the profession and how they view their work and process. We thought we’d start with Delphine, @Issue’s editor, and then Kit, @Issue’s design director, before broadening our scope to others in the business.

Name: Delphine Hirasuna
Profession: Writer/ Editor of @issue
Home Base: San Francisco, CA

When did you know that you wanted to pursue the profession you did?
I think I was around 6. I was tiny for my age and lousy at playground sports; I hated recess, but I loved to read. Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, Eddie’s Red Wagon, etc. But the stories felt formulaic and I decided I could write better. My bedroom had a vanity with a frilly yellow chiffon skirt around it, and I’d crawl inside and write my stories in that private space. Even then, I was a realist. Afterall, I was 6 years old, and lived on a little farm in the middle of nowhere, and didn’t know how to contact a publisher, much less have an adult one take my writing seriously. But I didn’t give up. In grammar school and high school, I was the editor of the school paper, and by college, I was determined to be a journalist.
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5 Common Mistakes Package Designers Make

Editor’s note: Packaging design presents its own unique set of challenges to graphic designers that differ from other kinds of print design. Here, we asked Brad Murdoch from Process, a premium packaging manufacturer based in Salt Lake City, to help us identify some common mistakes. Process handles custom packaging and fabrication through its network of overseas manufacturing facilities.

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The Backstory Behind “Obsessions”

At age 68 when Kit left his partnership at Pentagram after 23 years to set up his own independent studio, we discussed how it would give him the luxury of doing what he wanted to do simply because he wanted to do it. Since I’m not that far behind him in years, I understood the importance of the question, “if not now, when?” Speaking for myself, when I fantasized about becoming a writer in high school, I didn’t have corporate brochures and power point presentations in mind (not that I’m complaining). Our quasi-serious venture, Hirasuna + Hinrichs Special Projects – or as Kit calls it “Hinrichs + Hirasuna Special Projects” – was intended to set aside a small portion of our time and energy to focus on the topics we found of compelling personal interest, whether it was profitable or not. We promised to take turns choosing the topic, since the things that interest me don’t necessarily interest him, and vice versa. Our first project is “Obsessions,” a series of small perfect-bound books on things that fascinate us, even though others may find that inexplicably odd. Kit’s collection of alphabet postcards, an offshoot of his passion for typography, launches the series. We also agreed that the production value must live up to our high standards – i.e., nothing cheesy. This is why it was printed beautifully by Blanchette Press on Sappi McCoy Silk.

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@Issue Editor’s Show Opens in Tokyo

Some of you know that seven years ago I wrote a book called “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946,” published by Ten Speed Press/Random House. As usual, it was designed by Kit Hinrichs (Kit’s origami flag assemblage below) and photographed by Terry Heffernan. After more than 30 years as a corporate writer, I suddenly found myself propelled in another direction and immersed in a subject that I largely avoided my entire life. Although I had no thought that it would make a good art exhibition, I began receiving requests from museums across the U.S. and the array of objects made from scrap and found materials by people imprisoned in the camps were exhibited in some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. and the International Folk Art Museum of Santa Fe. Today it opens at the University Art Museum (Geidai) in Tokyo to kick off a one-year tour of Japanese cities. If you are in Japan, I hope you’ll take the time to see it. I’ll be back in my San Francisco office next week with more new posts. — Delphine

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Corbis All Day, Every Day

Corbis doesn’t lack for products. With more than 100 million rights-managed photographs and illustrations and royalty-free images, Corbis continually faces the challenge of communicating the depth, breadth, diversity and quality of its vast collection and getting designers, art directors, publishers, editors and filmmakers to think of Corbis as their one-stop source for all stock image needs every single day.

That design brief quickly suggested to Studio Hinrichs the idea of creating a day-at-a-time calendar, featuring an event that happened that specific day in history and an image that tied the story together. This approach would allow Corbis to showcase the range of its many collections – celebrities, sports, fine art, science, architecture, cultural, outer space, historical, etc. –and give recipients a fascinating factoid for the day. What’s more, it addressed Corbis’ desire to make this program accessible across multiple platforms and to provide something that would be appreciated by everyone from top-level newspaper editors to wannabe designers still in school.

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Delphine’s Show Opens at Smithsonian Today

An exhibition of “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946” opens today at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. It is curated by @Issue’s very own editor, Delphine Hirasuna, and based on her book of the same name, which was designed by @Issue’s very own design director, Kit Hinrichs.

The exhibition (and book) features art and objects made by some of the 120,000 ethnic Japanese who lived on the U.S. West Coast and were forced into barbed wire enclosed/heavily guarded internment camps for the duration of World War II. Allowed to take only what they could carry, they were sent to live in remote uninhabited locations in the deserts and swamps.

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Pentagram Partner Kit Hinrichs
Announces Formation of New Office

ACCD_TSA_Poster

Editor’s Note: Normally we don’t post people announcements on our blog, but we are breaking the rule for Kit, @Issue’s co-founder and creative catalyst. Kit’s new studio is off to a running start, with his entire San Francisco staff still on his team and projects proceeding on schedule. Below is the joint announcement released by Pentagram and Studio Hinrichs. Watch for more great work from Kit. Congratulations, dear friend, and all the best.

October 1, 2009 — After 23 years as a partner of Pentagram, Kit Hinrichs announced that he is leaving the international consultancy to establish an independent design firm, Studio Hinrichs, in San Francisco.

“My more than two decades at Pentagram have been the most gratifying of my 40-plus years in design,” says Hinrichs. “I’ve been proud to be in partnership with many of the world’s most talented and dedicated designers. Their commitment to design excellence set the bar to which I’ve continually aspired.”

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Editor’s Confession: Branding Conundrum

at_issues

Let’s admit this upfront: atissuejournal would not have been our first choice for a domain name. Unfortunately, we couldn’t register “@Issue” and “at-issue” and “atissue” were taken.

Fourteen years ago when we were tossing around names for a journal focusing on issues that concerned both business and design, we wanted one that did not appear biased toward one point of view or the other. (I would share the rejects with you, but they are stuck on a 3 ½” disk.) Admittedly, we were short-sighted, but in our defense, the World Wide Web was just catching on at the time; most companies did not even have websites. Making the “@” sign part of our name struck us as clever and progressive. Plus it looked good as a masthead. Little did we realize that @ couldn’t be part of a domain name. You can’t even do a Google-search because everything with the word “issue” in it pops up instead.

So, in picking a Web address for our blog, we confronted the dilemma: Do we call ourselves something else and tell readers it is from the same people who brought you @Issue? In fact, it is @Issue under a different name. Or do we try to salvage the equity built up in the brand and call it atissuejournal? Obviously, you can see what we decided. Whether we made the right choice is open for debate. You all can weigh in. You can disagree and you might be right, but we are not going to change it. The print edition will forever remain @Issue. The blog domain name will be atissuejournal, and when you get to the site, the masthead will read @Issue. That’s our decision and we’re sticking with it. (sigh!)

Anatomy of a Book Cover

As told by Delphine, the author

Art of Gaman

The adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover [jacket]” is only partly true. It’s not for lack of trying. The look of a book cover jacket is an important aspect of market positioning. It is what first catches the attention of retail buyers at major book fairs, reviewers and readers. It can persuade bookstores to display your book more prominently or, at least, give it more than “spine-out” (where only the spine title is visible) shelf space. It can also give readers a sense of the genre, subject and tone of the content. And, for the sake of truth in advertising, it shouldn’t over promise or under promise what the reader will find inside.

In the case of my book, “The Art of Gaman,” published by Ten Speed Press in 2005, coming up with the book title and cover jacket design proved as hard as developing the content for the book. The subject of “Art of Gaman” was fairly straightforward. It featured arts and crafts made by the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from the West Coast after Pearl Harbor and imprisoned in internment camps for the duration of World War II. Since they were only given a week to settle their affairs and only allowed to take what they could carry, the objects they made in camp were largely fashioned from scrap and found materials. Tossed and forgotten in storage sheds and attics, most of the objects had never been shown in public until I started asking friends and family who had been in camp what they had saved.

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@Issue Joins the Blogosphere

Welcome to atissuejournal.com, the online version of @Issue: Journal of Business and Design. Like the print edition of @Issue, which debuted in 1994, this blog is intended to show how design has been used effectively to raise brand identities and contribute to business success. Our hope is to spur a dialog, provide food for thought, and encourage business and design to appreciate what each brings to the creative process. We plan to keep the blog content brief and topical, leaving the printed @Issue to offer more indepth, analytical coverage.

Our intention with the blog is to post frequent updates, but bear with us while we get up to speed. Story categories may change if we find they aren’t working. This is a work-in-progress that we hope will get better with each new posting. Also, indulge us for a brief while if we pick the “low-hanging fruit” and feature case studies of projects we worked on and know first-hand.

For us, @Issue has always been a labor of love, but we can’t survive without your support. To keep the blog alive, click on us regularly, tell your friends and colleagues to visit too, share your thoughts in the Comments box, and if you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please click on “Become a Sponsor” above and email us for more information.

Come back soon. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Best,
Delphine Hirasuna
@Issue Editor