Nov 2, 2011

REVIEW | Dirty Fingernails; A One-Of-A-Kind Collection of Graphics Uniquely Designed by Hand

Dirty Fingernails- by John Foster





Good Design Doesn't have to be clean - in fact, the messier, the better. -John Foster
In his book Dirty Fingernails, John Foster addresses the division between good Graphic design and fine art. So many artists get stuck in computer mode and think they can never leave their perfect clean designs and ready made type, everything is simple, easy and to the point. John Foster himself is an illustrator and a sculptor whom, in addition to being the author of Dirty Fingernails he is an instructor for The Illustration Academy  , Concept forum and TAD by Conceptart.org as well. He has also traveled and spoken at many lectures and is currently living in Rhode Island where he is an Instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design.



The artists exhibited in his book are stepping away from the computer and going back to traditional hands on design. Mixing typographic design with personal touch to create some truly unique and outstanding designs.  More and more designers are discovering the endless possibilities of working by hand and using whatever form of materials they can think of from painting, silkscreen printing, collage and even their own hand drawn type.

Adding the hand made touches to their designs gives the work a more personal flare. Some of the designers have said so that when they receive a client who likes the work they've done its like they are buying their art specifically and is a greater sense of accomplishment than something just rendered straight from a computer screen.

Theses artists do however still use the computer as a tool. In fact, many of them do their finishing touches on one. Design firms such as The Little Friends of Printmaking will use found textures and spray paint pieces of their design and then scan everything into the computer and put it together like puzzle pieces. 

The Comedians of Comedy 2007 Tour Poster- The Little Friends of Printmaking
Almost all of the designers featured in the book use this method in fact. They say that it makes things much easier to manipulate when there are too many whimsical art directors or uncertain clients. This process allows them to go in and adjust specific elements of the design without having to resubmit an entirely new painting.

Thus is the beautiful harmonic blend of traditional techniques with more modern tools. Bringing these elements together allows them to stand out and really get noticed. For instance, paring a colorful and imperfect hand drawn image with clean and simple font transforms those small errors in the work into happy mistakes that make the viewer fall in love. When you pair a design like that such as the one above next to one that features just a regular photograph with some plain Jane helvetica font in the same magazine or on two different posters in a space, which one are you more likely to want to investigate? This book is an excellent source of inspiration for those artists pursuing graphic design who want to brake away from the mold, maintain their creativity and put those doodles, sketches and spray cans to good use.

-Alyssa Moody




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