SWEAT is an independently organized, experimental graphic design workshop.
Held only in the summer season of the Midwest since 2007, this program is 8 years strong and running.
The format for SWEAT changes with each successive iteration. Locations, collaborators, and output are each tied to a unique SWEAT experience. The only piece of content prescribed to each group is thematic.
The intention of SWEAT is not to focus on outcomes, but rather to focus on discovery, collaboration, and a state of play. Designers come from all backgrounds and skill levels, each treated equally.
Location: Letterpress Studio
Time frame: 5 days, Monday—Friday, 10AM-?
Participants: 17 designers compiled of students, recent graduates, and working designers selected from online application.
Theme: Respond to Bully Culture.
Day one, our group assembled and received via group text message our surprise theme. How does graphic design respond to bully culture?
Our group discussed many avenues of approach to the topic, and ultimately decided that Bully culture is something each of us had experienced, and from both sides of the fence. The act of stratifying another person to obtain a sense of place is common in school yards and throughout childhood as children slowly mature into emotionally responsible adults. Yet, where does this culture dissipate? If bully culture stems from the aggressive tendency to charge another person's experience in order to pay oneself with emotional or psychological stability, can it be said this experience stops on the school yard?
Had any of us truly been innocent?
We shared experiences that startled us as personal stories brought up complex feelings decades after events had transpired and apparently still lay somewhere inside us well into adulthood. This discovery process became much of the SWEAT experience. Through this method, we realized that each of us had been on the bully, and bullied side of the fence. As such, we responded to the 2faced nature of bully culture, and the way in which it feeds itself by creating at times both victim and victimizer. Recognizing the important role that bully culture has in the lives of many children today, we decided to focus on personal stories and experiences and hope that if by no other means the act of creating these works would identify to others who had gone through hard times and as evidenced by our making had more than survived.
Below are a few experimental spreads I made for the project, as well as a few interior pages showing a bit of the small studio space where we all crammed in elbow to elbow. I focused on trying new things, working in areas I was unsure of or not the best at, and trying to embrace these weaknesses or perhaps discover hidden strengths. Because I was drawn to the book layout, I spent a lot of time in digital space and as such much of the work reflected that avenue. I did manage to experiment quite a bit with letter press but editorially I used those pieces as abstract elements within the book rather than project spreads.
Once we agreed that building a book would be an acceptable output for such a varied grouping of works, Each member was assigned a different task. Some received logo design, others received paper sourcing, and so on.
My contribution to the book came in the form of book design as well as individual works. I thought, isn't there a way to actually make the book duplicitous? To split it into two halves, sharing experiences that were dark, or moments of affirmation that were light?I spent many hours laying out the book pages, and in collaboration with organizer Jenn Stucker, determining a rhythmic flow between pieces, editing content, finalizing the overall format, and trouble shooting printing issues.
The end result of our SWEAT is 2faced, a two-sided book that can be flipped and read both ways, color coded for two separate meanings, containing the works of 17 different designer's playful experiments, inner thoughts, goofs, encoded messages and confessions.
The reward for this kind of work is measured in friendships and memories, but having a cool book doesn't hurt either.
2FACED has won a SILVER ADDY AWARD and has also been featured in the gallery show Object and Graphic Design Exhibit at ArtSpace/Lima.
Thanks for looking! Keep playing.