[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
Today in
S.C.V. History
June 25
1859 - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez escapes from prison while serving sentence for grand larceny in L.A. County; recaptured in August and sent to San Quentin [story]

CalArts’ program in Graphic Design has a long history of documenting Institute-wide events through custom screen-printed posters. Typically produced in editions of 50 or less, it has become a badge of honor among students to have their work taken off campus walls by classmates with sticky fingers–a clear indication that the work is valued for more than its information.

In 1994, Graphic Design faculty members Shelley Stepp and Kary Arimoto-Mercer created a physical archive for the posters as a way to preserve students’ work. From their initial efforts, the physical archive has grown exponentially, requiring that the posters be stored in various corners of offices across the Graphic Design program.

Without a central location or means to access the physical poster archive, Graphic Design faculty Michael Worthington devised a plan to consolidate the work into a digital space, a platform that could be made available online to alumni and current students, as well as to CalArts and design communities at large.

“I realized about two years ago that our collection of posters was, in fact, a rich, visual historical timeline of design at CalArts, and a cultural timeline of the Institute, too,” Worthington said.

“Enough time had passed that the collection was now an archive,” he said.

We asked him about how he and his team of students finally brought the physical archive into the digital age, and about the upcoming book release and REDCAT exhibition that will celebrate the legacy of the Graphic Design poster tradition at CalArts.

24700: The physical archive has been in the works for about two decades. What made this moment the right time to create a digital extension of that collection?

MW: We had never had any funding for the archive, but two years ago the Graphic Design program received a share of the profits from the online Coursera courses the design faculty had taught, and we used that money to buy lights and a camera and hire students, so that we could start to document and archive the posters.

We cleaned out a storage closet and turned it into a photo studio. I built a white box and had someone build a portable poster-mover, so we could transport posters between the archive and the shooting space. When we had enough images I worked with two MFA students on the website UI/UX, identity and structure — Tracy Tran and Guanyan Wu — and we hired faculty Roman Jaster and Yay Brigade to program the site for us.

Since then we’ve been gradually adding to the site, and now have more than 1,000 posters uploaded, and another 1,000 or so still to shoot…

Can you talk a bit about the book of posters you are working on?

We plan on publishing a book of a selection of the posters. One of the starting points for this project was the 10-year Poster book that CalArts printed in 1980, to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. My idea was to create a publication that filled the gap between 1980 and now. I commissioned about 12 pieces of writing and interviews that chronologically line up across that time span to try and get a feel for the changes and history of nearly 40 years.

The book will also be funded by the Graphic Design program’s Coursera profits, and we are hoping to release it at the same time as the show at REDCAT in October. I’m editing the publication and will work closely with two MFA students on the design. We don’t know yet if we will self-publish or find a publisher or distributor, but either way, it’ll be for sale through the website, and available to CalArts students, faculty and alumni.

There will also be a REDCAT poster exhibition in the fall. Can you give us a preview of what that is going to look like?

So far, the organizing structure and curatorial decisions haven’t been made, but it’ll definitely cover the whole time span since the 10-year poster book. We had to get the digital archive up and running before we could commission writers for the book, and select the work for the exhibition: the archive had to be made visible before we could really see what we had, let alone start to work with it. The show will be a smaller selection of curated posters than the online archive, which will eventually include every poster in the physical archive.

There are still a lot of uncredited posters on the archive. Who should students or alumni contact if they want to help identify the designers for those mystery prints?

You can click on the “?” on the website to submit missing information. One of the goals of the site was to crowdsource missing info, for some posters, especially the earlier ones, we don’t even know its year, let alone the designer! We’ve already had more than 350 missing pieces of information supplied by alumni, as well as several offers to donate posters. When someone submits an email about missing info, it automatically flows into a Google spreadsheet, cross-referenced against other comments, and we update them as soon as we can.

What’s the best part about seeing this project come to fruition?

Well, it’s far from done – we are only halfway through the digital archive, and then, once we are caught up the site will have to be updated every year with the new posters. We are also working on creating a physical space on campus, to store the hard copies. Once we have all the information in the digital archive, it will allow us to properly label and organize the analog posters by year in flat files, which will be a mammoth task in itself. Then, we have to finish the book and the exhibition… It’s a three-year project from start to finish, and we are about 18 months into it.

But the best part so far is making such a large volume of work visible that was previously hidden, and being able to easily search through it and filter it. It’s wonderful when you find a fantastic design from the past that you didn’t see at the time. Actually, not just the designs, but also the events. Seeing which artists were visiting here in the ’80s and ’90s is amazing. In a lot of ways, the posters are like time capsules. They are evidence of the past and of past events at CalArts. They are visual triggers for memories, and transport alumni back to the time that they were students. That’s the real magic of the poster archive.

Discover more in CalArts Online Poster Archive.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Monday, Jun 24, 2019
Static and ham radio codes pierced the air at SCV Water in Saugus as the Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club held its Amateur Radio Field Day on Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday, Jun 20, 2019
The Sierra Hillbillies will celebrate Independence Day and keep cool with ice cream sundaes on July 7 with caller Dennis Young on squares and John Downing cuing rounds for our Patriotic Sundaes Dance.
Thursday, Jun 20, 2019
The city of Santa Clarita invites residents and their families to register for a fun day-trip to the picturesque beach city of Ventura, taking place on Saturday, July 13. The low-cost summer beach excursion will allow individuals and families to explore Ventura Harbor Village and Harbor Cove Beach.
Thursday, Jun 20, 2019
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday that Dody Dorn has won the runoff election for the open Film Editors Branch seat on the 2019–20 Board of Governors. Dorn joins incumbents Carol Littleton and Michael Tronick in representing the branch and will assume her post as of July 1.
Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019
Steve Simeone, Laurie Kilmartin and Jimmy Shubert will be the featured comedians at the 8th Annual “Comics for the Cause” fundraiser for The Youth Project at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Aug. 22.
Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1859 - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez escapes from prison while serving sentence for grand larceny in L.A. County; recaptured in August and sent to San Quentin [story]
The Lancaster JetHawks came out on top, 9-8, over Rancho Cucamonga in a game that saw multiple lead changes in the late innings Sunday afternoon at The Hangar.
JetHawks Win in Late Innings Sunday, Take Series
Sean Bouchard went deep and drove in four runs on Saturday night, but the JetHawks fell to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 10-5, at The Hangar.
Another Big Game for Bouchard in JetHawks Loss
The Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee will hold its next public meeting Tuesday, June 25, starting at 4 p.m.
June 25 City Council Legislative Committee Meeting
The Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District Board of Directors regular meeting is set for Wednesday, June 26, starting at 1 p.m.
June 26 Special Meeting: SCV Sanitation District
The June 25 agendas for the Santa Clarita City Council's special and regular meetings have been released by officials.
June 25 Agendas – Santa Clarita City Council Meetings
Of all the parks and recreation agencies in the nation, the city of Santa Clarita's Jakes Way Neighborhood Program in Canyon Country has won the 2019 Innovation in Social Equity Award from the National Recreation and Parks Association.
City’s Jakes Way Program Wins Top National Award
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is assessing exposure on the West Side of Los Angeles by two county residents who recently traveled and became ill with measles shortly after returning home.
County Warns of Measles Exposure on LA’s West Side
The Lancaster JetHawks, playing as El Viento de Lancaster for the sixth time this year, took down Rancho Cucamonga, 13-7, at The Hangar Friday night.
El Viento Win Over Los Temblores Friday
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the city of Santa Clarita, is proud to announce the honorees for the 9th Annual Patriots Luncheon.
SCV Chamber Names 2019 Patriots Luncheon Honorees
Southern California Gas Co. will continue its grant program that helps California cities become more resilient in the face of climate change risks such as flooding, wildfires, extreme heat, drought, sea level rise, and other extreme weather events.
SoCalGas Offers $100K Grant to Help Cities Prep for Climate Change
The city of Santa Clarita has received an award from the Association of Public Treasurers of the United States and Canada for its Fiscal Year 2019-20 Investment Policy.
Santa Clarita Investment Policy Wins National Honor
Static and ham radio codes pierced the air at SCV Water in Saugus as the Santa Clarita Amateur Radio Club held its Amateur Radio Field Day on Saturday and Sunday.
SCV Amateur Radio Club Broadcasts Nationwide for Field Day
A traffic collision involving two semi trucks and an electric car caused a fuel spill in Newhall on Monday morning.
Truck, EV Crash Causes Fuel Spill on Sierra Highway
The California Department of Motor Vehicles will close its offices statewide for a half day of 'Operation: Excellence' customer service training on Wednesday, July 24.
DMV to Close Statewide for ‘Operation Excellence’ Training
The spiteful ex-boyfriend was dead wrong when he told Ashley Farley she would never see her beloved Pomeranian pup “Ella” again after informing her that he sold the dog while she was at work.
Ash, Ella Reunited: Dog Sold by Ex Returned
An individual involved in a stabbing by an apartment complex in Newhall was sent to a hospital Saturday night, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials.
Stabbing in Newhall Sends 1 Person to Hospital
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies discovered a suspected concentrated marijuana grow lab and detained three suspects after being called to the scene of a party at a vacant property in Canyon Country on Saturday evening.
Deputies Bust Suspected Cannabis Grow Lab, 3 Detained
A Canyon Country property that housed the Soledad Trailer Lodge for decades until the mobile home park's recent demolition could soon become the site of several new residential and office units.
Developer Seeks to Build on Mobile Home Park Site
1980 - Saugus Train Station relocated to Heritage Junction [story]
Saugus Train Station
1946, 11:20pm: William S. Hart, 81, dies at L.A.'s California Lutheran Hospital, leaving his Newhall home and 80-acre estate to L.A. County and his Hollywood home to L.A. City [story]
Hart dies
Family, friends and community members gathered Saturday at Valencia United Methodist Church to remember the impact Carl Boyer III had on their lives and the community.
Founding Father Carl Boyer Remembered with Celebration of Life
1972 - Vasquez Rocks added to National Register of Historic Places [list]
Vasquez Rocks
Three school districts within the Santa Clarita Valley have been recognized as 'Positive Outliers' by a statewide study for the achievements of African American and Hispanic students.
SCV Schools Named ‘Positive Outliers’ in Statewide Study
%d bloggers like this: