An Interview with GD Faculty (and PSU Grad!), Avalon Kalin
The poster is printed with a blank area for the artist or buyer to write their own message.
The Novel Protagonists books series.
Please tell us a little about your education.
I received an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design from PSU. Before that I had a two-year business degree from PCC in...Accounting! Just finished my MFA in Art & Social Practice from PSU.
How did you break into the field?
One of my professors, Michael Reardon, hired me as assistant designer after my internship at his studio, Fieldtrip. It was a great.
Please tell us a little about your design work history.
After I graduated I went right to work doing production in a small studio. It was a rewarding introduction to the profession – client relationships, the creative brief, process, production, billing, etc. I got to see how it all worked. At this time I was dreaming of building my own web design company. After a year or so, I had the opportunity to go back to school for Harrell Fletcher's Art & Social Practice MFA program at PSU. The projects I created for my graduate work definitely reflect my Graphic Design interests and skills. One example is a book series I've printed in limited editions. Each book is a reprint of a popular or historic novel. The main characters are replaced by people from my life and the books are printed in editions of two, with my own book design of course. I'm now gearing towards using my graphic skills in my art practice and hopefully getting some grants and residencies, public art funding, etc. I'm not sure how soon I'll return to the design studio. Though I'd love to at some point, and still do on the side.
What is the focus of your creative research?
I love the possibilities of project work in any media that involves other people and their interests. The client and audience focus is a really strong connection between Social Practice and Graphic Design. The process involves creating solutions that create a dynamic between the work and the user. My favorite examples of this connection often involve the participation of the audience in some way.
Social Practice :: Drumset Drumcircle. It speaks for itself!
What is your teaching philosophy?
We are all learning. The classroom is a workshop. There is room for both focus and freedom in education. You need them both. Experiential education is important. I want the students to be guided by constructive critique and be encouraged to learn their skills and take risks too. Asking questions and going from there. Immersion.
What classes are you teaching this year?
Art 120. Digital basics. It will be fun.
Who/what inspires you?
I'm inspired by history and also by idiosyncratic styles. But looking around is always my favorite thing. I like to see people exploring and sharing what they find. Design in the service of culture. One design solution that inspired me recently was to see the Kitsune Maison compilations. Each one is similar. They all use collages of self-portraits by their artists as the basis for the LP covers. http://www.kitsune.fr/music/maison_4
Please share some links to sites that inspire you.
Any advice for working on advertising or large scale projects?
I've had more experience with this sort of thing working with art institutions than in graphic design. Every job/project is a relationship with your client. Keep on top of your skills and roll with solutions that work.
Any advice for coming up with strong conceptual solutions?
Be obsessed and experiment. I like the saying "art about life is better than art about art." The same goes for design. Bring energy from the world to your process. The most creative people I've met say "yes" to their intuitions and creative process. People who can't see connections or assume things won't work tend to make less interesting stuff. The best stuff comes from letting yourself be surprised. More layers, more metaphor. But in the end, the solution has to work the way it should.