GDC@50 Posters

20 GDC Fellows Look at 50 Years of Design in Canada

GDC Fellows are individuals who have been recognized by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) as having made an exceptional contribution to the Society and to Canadian graphic design over the past fifty years. The GDC asked its fellows to develop posters commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Society, following is the result.

All posters are on sale now for $25 plus shipping. Email to order.

^ Peter Bartl
My design work is now all about the letterpress process of layering, the tactile experience, the unexpected and the smell of the ink!

^ David Berman
Our poster design is called Two Hands. Two hands worked together to create this poster, David Berman and Scott Sigurdson.

The two hands of creativity depicted in this poster, aside from presenting the numerals 5 and 0, also represent the balance of past and present, assistance and activism, giving and strength.

The colour scheme reflect the colours of Canada, of the GDC, and of activism and passion. The theme of activism represents the GDC’s role as a beacon to other countries: a celebration of Canada’s leadership role in our export of the idea that graphic design can and does contribute to a gentler, more sustainable world for all. From our socially-responsible Code Of Ethics being used a standard inter-nationally to Canada’s tobacco packaging regulations, I believe that this shall be Canadian design’s greatest legacy.

And so we commemorate the GDC’s history with a design that could have been developed with technologies available throughout the past fifty years. May all of Canada’s designers be together in one society within the next fifty.

^ Carole Charette
Fifty pencil shavings for 50 years of graphic design in Canada symbolically arranged in the shape of a maple leaf—representative of the diversity of Canadian culture and our shared values. The freshly sharpened pencil symbolizes the youth and health of Canadian graphic design—and that it has many good years ahead!

^ David Coates
The geography of Canada plays an important role in Canadian designers’ work with its vast spaces, widely varied terrain and extreme conditions. This, to my mind brings up the reference to the 49th parallel where most of the Canadian population clusters. This poster attempts to create a landscape of positive and negative space, pay homage to the Swiss typographic leanings of early Canadian design, and to convey the coding and decoding of messages graphic designers do on a daily basis. Decoded: message/typography/art/geography

^ David Coates
OK, could have done PMS 050, but that would be cheating. Canadian graphic designers have defined the Canadian identity for the past 50 years. Have we helped put Canadians in an identity crisis? I think not. We know who we are—proud, humble, generous, funny, clever, polite, dramatic, passionate, inclusive, creative, socialist, multicultural, nice, hockey loving beer drinkers, but please—not American.

^ Frank Davies
Rather than just compiling a summary of past designs I have chosen to present a challenge to GDC to move into a new creative field… One tongue for all to share.

Human culture began when the first graphic designers created letterforms to record speech. Now we have tiny Earth around which some thousands of languages are spoken. We need only one tongue for all of us to use in all our many media, our computer-world, etc. One shared language could increase understanding and help towards Peace on Earth. Our current tongues are filled with gibberish and contra­dictions and ridiculous errors and useless duplications.

Uni Lingua could use the existing inter­national phonetic alphabet as a start and then work with Chinese to define promising letter(word) forms.

This may be of no interest at all to GDC but in the hope it could earn us all international fame and glory in our next 50 years I felt it worth presenting.

^ Peter Dorn
This poster is a tribute to a small group of dedicated designers who fifty years ago founded the Society of Typographic Designers of Canada which evolved to become the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada.

^ Rolf Harder
A playful interpretation of the designer’s craft: an idea, expressed through the calculated weighing of colours, shapes and lines—just as crucial in graphic design as is spontaneity and, last, but not least, the joy of creating. The designer, of course, loves his work and… smiles!

^ Rolf Harder
Shape and colour: our tools. This design shows the three basic shapes in primary colours. They also represent the present state of the Society, while the negative white shapes depict its early beginnings 50 years ago.

^ Georges Haroutiun
For 50 years, the GDC has reflected Canada’s colourful cultural mosaic in the designs of its members. To celebrate the organization’s contributions to this country and its sense of identity, this poster uses a maple leaf created from different-coloured pencils—both tools of the artists and metaphor for the wonderful diversity that makes Canada strong and proud.

^ Paul Haslip
What is subtracted can be more important than what is added. On the surface, then, the number 100 torn in half is a visually unique way of communicating 50 years. But consider a secondary message: as a score of 100 is perfect, then this approach underscores my belief that the impact of design on Canada is about halfway there.

^ Burton Kramer
The poster conveys the development of graphic design in Canada from the early “handwork,” craftsperson stage to the current computer-based, electronic imaging stage.

^ Michael Maynard
Using GDC website text as the main element of my design, I’ve tried to express the intensity, confusion, and aesthetics of contemporary visual communications. At the same time it’s a personal comment on the overwhelming amount of information we’re exposed to on a daily basis from around the world.

And in featuring a typographic design, I like to think my poster pays homage to the original founders of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, back in pre-computer 1956: Toronto ‘type men’ Frank Davies, John Gibson, Frank Newfeld and Sam Smart.

^ Frank Newfeld
I went back 48 years in our history—when GDC was known as TDC (Society of Typographic Designers of Canada)—to our first exhibition. Typography ’58 was sponsored by the Rolland Paper Company, and shown in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and other major Canadian cities.

I was asked to design the menu for the awards dinner. The figure with the butterfly net appeared on the cover. Those were the days of linotype and letterpress. Hence the line-gauge in his back pocket. Also, many of us had our own printing presses (mine was a small Adana table-top) and some of us even dressed a bit like Eric Gill. Hence the paper hat and black apron. The figure I worked as a type-high woodcut; the net was done on a Spirograph.

The triple ’T’ was the show’s symbol. And we desperately needed to snare new members (like butterflies). I have substituted GDC symbols exploding all over the ’country’. As one of the four founders—the least important one, to be honest—I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that there would ever be more than a couple of dozen of us. And today yet, even
in Manitoba! Please note that there are 50 GDC logos flying all over the shop!

Lastly, I feel sure that the other invitees will have produced posters of grave import; with which I simply cannot compete. Hopefully, mine isn’t too frivolous for such a ’solemn occasion’ as a 50th Anniversity!

(My 50th is coming up in a couple of years, and my wife has asked me to please refrain doing a poster for it—after having seen my GDC effort!)

^ Albert Ng
“Let’s have something for our next generation...” —learned from a design student in 1996.

^ Friedrich Peter
My poster depicts a thin section of Canadian design going down in history—one way or another.

^ Robert L Peters
Design is the application of intent. Graphic design targets the eye, and ultimately the mind’s eye, of both the individual beholder and the broader audience. Strategy, concept, message, and visual vocabulary connect sender and receiver by means of graphic acuity and attraction...on a good day. You see?

^ Elaine Prodor
I chose to combine beautiful symbols of both Canada and design harmony. The Golden Rectangle’s “divine” proportion creates a spiral that moves through space to infinity. Here the maple leaf moves through a measured path and time to celebrate the past 50 years of Canadian design and its future.

^ Neville Smith
I have always admired designers, from all parts of the globe, that have continued to be prolific into their senior years. Kazumasa Nagi and Tadanori Yoko from Japan, Heinz Edelman from Germany, Milton Glazer from the USA and Theo Dimson from Canada are a few. Now that I am part of this aging club I decided a personal approach to the poster design would be my direction.

Despite what some younger designers may think, the senior designer may still be alive, active, even creative and more than ever in a position to pass on his or her thoughts, knowledge and experience. Our wings may fall off from time to time and bring us back to earth. Our bodies have changed shape, but if we can communicate, discuss, advise, direct, we may even help a new generation to take flight.

I am inspired by young designers that look back as well as ahead and don’t think they have all the answers.

^ Tiit Telmet
The eh! poster is or should be a no brainier, eh. Minimal and simple, how Canadian can it get, eh. And... must include the “French” into the mix, voila!

^ Tiit Telmet
GDC@50: The words are on the poster, only missing aspect is the pixilated maple leaf (computer) which I hope is self evident. The eye, the hand, the brush... the maple leaf, and voila! (must not forget the French).

^ Jan van Kampen
The theme Designing Canada for 50 Years has beeen interpreted in Graphic Design context meaning that the GDC, as a Canadian community of graphic designers, has been practising the applied art in this country for the past fifty years.

Therefore a listing of members in the background that signifies, in no particular order of importance, numerous participants. The first segment of names are designers of my generation and earlier who I respect as colleagues and who have been of great influence and inspiration. These are also the pioneers of the profession (trade) and go back to the late 1950’s.

The graphic composition is made up of visual components that represent the absolutely timeless elementary visual tools available to every graphic designer: space and the division thereof; primary shapes; primary colours and their derivatives; letters and type; type as texture; movement, direction; balance; contrast; a creative mind.

^ Matthew Warburton
The pervasiveness of the creativity of Canadian graphic designers is readily apparent when you have 50 years of it to look back upon. For over half a century, we have been creating the look of Canadian culture and commerce—images, marks, posters and graphics that have been seen or touched by every Canadian alive today. From the logos on our skates and schoolbooks, to posters at our fairs and sporting events.

The best designs stand the test of time—from Allan Fleming’s ground-breaking CN logo introduced in 1959 to Burton Kramer’s 1974 CBC logo (only recently has its wings been clipped); or Stuart Ash’s metric logo which graced every child’s schoolbooks in the 1970s to the modern Bauer B which appears on the equipment of every aspiring NHLer.

Perhaps in 50 years I’ll know if any of my own work has had similar impact. But for this anniversary, a simplified shape of a beaver is the link between a slab of wood (one of the building blocks of our nation) with the dots of ink and pixels—technology that brings our creativity to life.

From Morris Antosh, MGDC
Show Organizer

There are 44 living Fellows out of the 56 who have been so honoured. In an effort to acknowledge them as a group and pay tribute to their individual impact on our profession each Fellow was invited to design a poster for a special collection commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the GDC. The posters follow the 2006 national celebratory theme of Designing Canada for 50 Years.

To say it was an honour to participate in the preparation of this poster series would be an understatement. There are many indelible memories.

In 1956 Frank Davies, Frank Newfeld, Leslie (Sam) Smart and John Gibson founded the Society of Typographic Designers of Canada (TDC), which, over the past half century, has evolved into the GDC as we know it today. I had the great pleasure of speaking on the telephone and exchanging emails with the Franks. They have each contributed to the 50th collection; Davies in an interesting challenge to today’s GDC; and Newfeld with artwork "borrowed" from his menu design for a TDC event from almost 50 years ago.

Talking to visionary Giles Talbot Kelly, whose amazing resume spans a good part of the globe, I heard of a fact-finding trip he made decades ago to California on behalf of the school he was teaching at to talk to "those two nice young chaps who were selling their newly developed Apple computers out of the back of their garage."

Imagine being Neville Smith and being able to tell people that upon graduating from art school you started a new job and that your first assignment was to refine the maple leaf design for the brand new Canadian flag.

Other memories? Frank Davies' creative signature (a typographer’s signature); Frank Newfeld's exquisite penmanship in a handwritten note; finally tracking down Bardolf Paul, who is living in Borneo; David Berman’s enthusiasm and his emails from Hong Kong where he was attending Icograda meetings; the charm of Québecer Carole Charette’s "English"; learning of the countries many Fellows came from and hearing the accents they still have when they speak; Friedrich Peter’s little perfectly-cut piece of masking tape that sealed his CD sleeve; the highest levels of professionalism you could imagine by every Fellow we made contact with; opinions—on design today and the current state of the GDC; receiving mechanicals instead of files; the sad reality that some Fellows are not in the greatest of health; learning from their stories of how connected so many Fellows are through the generations and the high regard they hold for each other; finding out how busy older Fellows are; and humble; and their gratitude for being remembered and appreciated.

I would encourage anyone who has never visited the Fellows section on the GDC website to spend some time reading about these people. Their stories are impressive and form a great deal of our profession’s history. They have not only influenced a nation of graphic designers, but in many cases, a world of graphic designers.

Whether a poster collection was the right vehicle for GDC Fellows to be remembered is debatable. There were other great ideas thrown into the ring after we were already
committed to this one. You may or may not even like the posters, but that’s not really the point. In 50 years of countless volunteers and influencers on behalf of the development of Canadian graphic design, 53 people’s efforts stand out so much that they have been bestowed our Society’s highest honour. For those that were able, it gives them the right to do what they love to do, design, and to have their creations represent our celebration of the GDC’s past 50 years.

I love every one of the posters. Thank you Fellows!
Morris Antosh, MGDC, March 2006, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Footnote: This collection cannot be complete without listing the names of the Fellows who are not represented by a poster (a complete list with bios can be found here). Many of the living Fellows were unable to commit the time from their busy studios, others were away travelling, some are happily retired or moved on to other interests and are no longer designing, and others were simply not well or not interested. That does not diminish their contributions to the development of graphic design in Canada over the past 50 years. Many sent well-wishes to the poster project and notes of congratulations to GDC for their milestone year.