Dirk Fowler and Bob Caruthers
"A Tip of the Hat: The graphic art of Dirk Fowler and Bob Caruthers"
May 4-June 30 2012
Helen DeVitt Jones Studio Gallery
Most of my life, I have been consumed by and obsessed over two things; listening to and collecting music, and making art. For the last 13 years, I have been combining these two obsessions into creating limited edition, hand printed letterpress concert posters. Representing a band and their music in a simple, graphic, honest way that engages the viewer and endears the fan is a never-ending challenge. I have made well over 250 editions, but I have not yet satisfied my need to create these objects. The posters in this exhibit represent only a small sampling of my letterpress work. The unifying theme is simplicity, graphic problem solving, and in most cases music. All of the posters were originally commissioned by the band’s management and used for promotion.
In college, I was inspired by a series of small theatre posters that could be found hanging around the West Texas A&M campus. The brilliantly illustrated posters were designed by my mentor, Bob Caruthers. To walk into Bob’s campus office as a young designer was like walking into a small museum of graphic design. Posters covered his walls from floor to ceiling. Many of them were icons of graphic design including the famous 1966 Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser. Without knowing it at the time, the short times I spent in Bob’s office would inspire me for a lifetime. I wanted to make things like I saw in his office.
As a professional graphic designer, I have been honored to have my work including in many important design journals and books. I have spoken at conferences and professional organizations nationwide about my work and process. I have traveled to many colleges and universities giving lectures and workshops meant to inspire creativity. Of all these honors, I can’t think of one that compares to the privilege of being able to show my work alongside the work of my friend Bob Caruthers. I tip my hat to you Bob. Thanks for everything.
Welcome to the show.
It is a great honor and a pleasure to include these few pieces of my work in this exhibition along with the work of my friend, the internationally renowned graphic designer, Dirk Fowler, to whom I tip my hat.
The pieces I have chosen for my half of our joint exhibition reveal, I believe, the essence of some of what I have had on my mind for the past few years. Primarily in the area of popular culture.
I am particularly interested in creating unique visual interpretations of various ideas (love), song lyrics (John Lennon, Mick Jagger and John Fogerty), literature (Animal Farm), the theater (Barnum), quotations (Woody Guthrie, Ho Chi Minh, The Bible and Captain Kirk), verbiage (Can you fix it?) and other topics in a highly personal manner.
The sole purpose for creating these visual interpretations was strictly to make me happy (even though they were actually hard work to produce). Something to look at. A visual problem-solving activity. They serve as a means to fulfill my never-ending need to satisfy a particular creative outlet. I have others as well. The work exists purely as a result of that quest. They were created for me and me alone—an audience of one, as it were—and I am excited to be able to share them with you now alongside Dirk’s work.
I have practiced and taught graphic design for many years; however, unlike traditional graphic design for which there are usually any number of constraints and limitations, these printed pieces were not produced to solve someone else’s problem(s). They solve my own problems with my own self-imposed criteria. Of course, this is not necessarily an easy or hard or good or bad thing except that I am probably a bit more demanding and critical when judging the worthiness or my own personal work than a client would be of a commerical assignment I solved for them. The process is the same in both instances.
For almost all of the work in the show the images were hand drawn (an important personal consideration) using a fine point “uni-ball” pen (no erasing) on paper. The drawings (I call them drawings, not illustrations just as a point of distinction) were then scanned (usually enlarged) and placed into Adobe Illustrator pages where color and typography (both of which I love) were added. It is the combination and ultimate unity of the images and the words that I find as fascinating a challenge today as I have for the major part of the last 66 years.