April 21, 2012

Case Study in Managing Clients

344 Design, LLC / Los Angeles, California USA

Author: Terry Lee Stone

Stefan G. Bucher's firm, 344 Design, is founded on the idea that art best serves commerce if it's built on a solid foundation of truth, integrity, and heart. "Because that's when art actually works. Anything less, starves a soul and isn't worth anyone's time or attention," says Bucher. 344 Design specializes in complex solutions for ambitious clients with graphic design as the starting point. Bucher also does writing, illustration, animation, and music.

LA Louver: David Hockney Catalog

344 Design creates many distinctive publications for the international all-star roster of LA Louver Gallery artists. For David Hockney's exhibition, "The East Yorkshire Landscape," Bucher designed a catalog that mirrors the strong horizontal nature of Hockney's paintings. The seventy-four-page, fully illustrated catalog features a foreword by gallery owner Peter Goulds, with text and paintings by Hockney, who is considered to be one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century and is routinely referred to as "Britain's most famous living artist."

Designing the Hockney catalog was a dream come true for Bucher. "Not only did I get a private event showing of his amazing new landscape paintings at his Los Angeles studio, but I got to meet the man himself when it came time to present comps," he says. "It's not often that you get to meet one of your heroes, and a rare occasion that they exceed your expectations."

Bucher's client decided to delay publication of the catalog until after the artist's opening show. "This gave us the opportunity to document the paintings in LA Louver's beautiful gallery space, which also gives you a better idea of their monumental scale," Bucher explains. "The design of the catalog is quite minimal. When you're working with brilliant ingredients you don't mess them up with fussy spices or a tricky sauce. That said, I could allow myself one little flourish. Since we are dealing with landscapes, all the painting details are anchored by horizontal lines that align with the horizon of each painting."

Hockney's paintings are very big—up to 40 feet (12.2 m) wide—and most are made by fitting many smaller paintings together, a method that allows the canvases to be easily transported back and forth. Plus, Hockney can work on the individual segments in his studio without standing on a ladder, something that works well for this deaf painter who is well over seventy years old. In creating these paintings, Hockney eschews all use of photography, which standardizes color, flattens perspective, and pushes the viewer away from things. As such, in Hockney's paintings, the viewer is brought into the landscape with an immediacy that is filtered through the artist's experience of place, both felt and remembered.

The format of the catalog is 15 × 9 inches (38.1 × 22.8 cm), a size that works well with the oil paintings' format, and is impressive to hold in your hands. All the images are finished with a spot gloss varnish. The inside of the high-gloss dust jacket has a subtle double hit of hot pink ink. "We selected a number of painting details for the catalog divider pages," notes Bucher. "They are reproduced at 100 percent scale. While the paintings are designed to look startlingly realistic and pastoral when viewed at about 80 feet [24.4 m], they reveal themselves to be highly stylized and full of motion at close range." "As part of the process, Mr. Hockney's assistant takes hundreds of photographs of each painting taking shape," says Bucher. "This allows him to review his own project progress from day to day. It also gave me wonderful material for the catalog. How often do you get the chance to show not only the beautiful end result, but also a behind-the-scenes look at its creation?"

The Graphic Eye

The Graphic Eye is a collection of photographs taken by graphic designers from around the globe. It is highly personal work from some of the world's most innovative graphic designers, including big international names such as Ed Fella, Jeri Heiden, Sean Adams, and Marian Bantjes. The images in The Graphic Eye offer a glimpse into the working methods and obsessions of this unique class of visual creatives. Detail-oriented and aesthetically demanding, graphic designers have a special way of looking at the world, and the photographic images they create for their own reference and enjoyment—from micro details to monumental cityscapes, funny vignettes to found fashion—are as unconventional as they are inspirational.

Source: Managing the Design Process: Implementing Design