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New Book and Exhibition to Celebrate 50 Years of Posters From CalArts

New Book and Exhibition to Celebrate 50 Years of Posters From CalArts
Poster for a lecture by Thomas Lawson. Artist: Andrea Tinnes, 1998.

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Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts provides an inside look at an unseen ephemeral history of CalArts and graphic design practice in Southern California Book and accompanying REDCAT exhibition to feature 500+ posters never before exhibited to the public, revealing CalArts as a haven for postmodern graphic design

Valencia, Calif. — In April 2020, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) will celebrate its remarkable – and long unavailable to the public – CalArts Poster Archive (posters.calarts.edu) with a new book and exhibition.

Featuring over 500 student and faculty-designed posters, the comprehensive retrospective reveals the long and rich history of graphic designers producing experimental posters for the countless artists, musicians, thespians, dancers, thinkers, and exhibitions that have visited CalArts since its founding in 1970.

It also includes work from a who’s who of Southern California graphic design from the last half century, including influential CalArts alumni and faculty such as Ed Fella, April Greiman, Denise Gonzales Crisp, Geoff McFetridge, N. Silas Munro, Brian Roettinger, Andrea Tinnes, Tim Belonax, Barbar Glauber, Zak Kyes, and others.

“CalArts is its own city, its own world, an alternate universe where posters rule!” said Michael Worthington, CalArts Graphic Design faculty and the book’s editor. “What all these posters have in common is that they have existed outside the mainstream, barely engaging with the visible canon of design. They have been made for a narrow audience, sometimes of one (the designer) and have existed inside the institute – albeit a radical experimental institute – but outside the traditional function of design, without the traditional designer/client relationship. These are not obedient works, they break rules, they misbehave, and sometimes they are an unruly mess.”

Since CalArts first opened its doors in 1970, its students and faculty have designed, printed, and hung thousands of posters on the walls of the Institute’s Valencia campus to announce on-campus events to a captive audience. It wasn’t until the late ‘90s, after the Northridge earthquake caused considerable damage to CalArts, that faculty members Shelley Step and Kary Arimoto-Mercer began collecting posters from the hallways. As the archive began to grow in size and scope, additional faculty began to donate from their personal collections and a formal process for acquiring designs from students was established. In late 2016, thanks to funding from the Graphic Design program’s acclaimed online courses, a three-year plan was conceived to digitize the archive and create an exhibition and publication. Over two thousand posters – ranging in production techniques from offset printing to handmade Xeroxed flyers, with most produced as silk screen prints – are currently online, with over a thousand more yet to be photographed and uploaded.

Released on April 4 2020, by MW Books, Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1980-2019 will feature 70 different covers made by CalArts faculty, alumni, and students and contain 525 poster images alongside interviews and essays from renowned designers and CalArtians including: Louise Sandhaus, Sarah Gottesdiener, Ian Lynam, Lorraine Wild, Jon Sueda, Gail Swanlund, Jeffery Keedy, and more. The book will be sold through the CalArts Poster Archive website and various online retailers, as well as at REDCAT during the exhibition’s run.

And on Friday, April 3, the exhibition, Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1970-2019, will open at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in downtown Los Angeles. Released to coincide with Printed Matter’s annual LA Art Book Fair at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary, the exhibition will also include rare posters from the Institute’s first decade as well as posters designed for CalArts affiliates such as the former Machine Project gallery and REDCAT itself.

For more information, to purchase the book, or to peruse the CalArts Poster Archive, please visit posters.calarts.edu. For information on the exhibition, visit www.redcat.org.

Inside Out & Upside Down: Posters from CalArts 1980-2019

Edited, designed, and introduction by Michael Worthington

Essays by Colin Frazier, Sarah Gottesdiener, Ian Lynam, Jennifer McKnight, Louise Sandhaus

Interviews with Mark Allen and Gail Swanlund; Kary Arimoto-Mercer and Shelley Stepp; Ed Fella, Jeffery Keedy, Lorraine Wild, and Michael Worthington; Yasmin Khan Gibson, Jérôme Saint-Loubert Bié, and Jon Sueda; Daniela Marx and Tuan Phan; Joe Prichard, Stuart Smith, Gail Swanlund, Scott Taylor, and Michael Worthington

Released April 2020

400 pages

The CalArts Graphic Design Program emphasizes both practical and conceptual skills, and enables each designer to integrate a command of visual language with imagination, theory, and technology. Students are trained in print and publication design; web and interface design; motion graphics for broadcast and film; branding, identity, and type design, as well as for careers in design history and education. To learn more, visit art.calarts.edu/programs/graphic-design.