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My Mentor Sol Schwartz In Solo Exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum

We all have certain people in our lives—without whom those lives would most likely have taken very different paths. For me there's one person who stands out above all the rest, and his name is Sol Schwartz. I have often spoken about how my growing up in Brooklyn was a formidable influence on what I was to become. When I was a student at Sheepshead Bay High School (quick aside: Larry David was one of Sheepshead's more notable graduates) Sol was a young teacher overflowing with energy, ideas, and inspiration he wanted to share with his students. I don't think anyone was more inspired by Sol than me. More than any other person, Sol is the reason I became a designer. In fact, while my parents were making plans for me to attend law school (unimaginable!), Sol met with and somehow convinced them it would be a better idea to allow me apply to art school. Then he encouraged me to apply to the best: Cooper, Yale and Pratt. I ended up attending my #1 choice, Cooper Union, the experience of which in the end totally transformed my life. So I have a lot to thank Sol for. This month Sol has been accorded an honor that has been long overdue: the Norman Rockwell Museum is giving him a solo show "Sol Schwartz: Drawing in the Dark". Drawing In The Dark

One of Sol's great loves has always been drawing from life. This particular show focuses on the drawings he's created of artists at live performances during summer seasons at Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Co., the Berkshire Theater Festival and Jacob's Pillow. He does these drawings of musicians, conductors, dancers and actors in the dark, while he is in the audience watching them perform. His love for the theater arts permeates every line he draws. With his drawings from Tanglewood one can almost hear the music—the line work being imbued with an energy and life that would not be possible in any other medium.

Sol is one of those artists who cannot help themselves from constantly drawing (I think he might actually draw in his sleep!). His series of nudes drawn with pastel on colored paper are reminiscent of the old masters. When I saw these recently I couldn't help but look up an old self-portrait I had done in Sol's classroom just to compare it with his work, and see if I saw any influence.

Looking at it (and looking back) I think my "drawing" skills may have left a bit to be desired, so I hope in that regard I wasn't too much of a disappointment to my teacher! Sadly I won't be able to make it to the opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum, but for anyone in the Stockbridge, Massachusetts area the opening will take place on Saturday, July 9th. Those who can make it will have the extra added pleasure of listening to Sol give a commentary on his work at 6:00 PM. As a former student of his, I can honestly say that listening to Sol speak is something you won't forget!

You can purchase Sol's book "Drawing Music – The Tanglewood Sketchbooks" through Amazon.

It Began in NoHo: Thank You Art Institute!

Last Friday I gave a talk to a capacity crowd at Art Institute of California – Hollywood. A big "THANK YOU" goes out to John Judy, the Academic Director of Graphic Design and Foundation Studies who planned the evening, and set it all up. I tailored my hour-long talk "It Began In Brooklyn" to what I expected would be a mostly student crowd, but many professionals showed up as well. The school opened up their space to a triple–wide room with three screens and three projectors—an unexpected layout which actually worked quite well. Afterwards we had a Q&A where I tried to answer some great questions from students and professionals. We then raffled off a Wacom tablet, a 1 year subscription to, several signed event posters and a CD of the complete Alphabet Soup Font Collection. I must say that it was really gratifying to see the high interest level displayed by many of the students. All in all it was a great evening. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did! Below, a few photos taken by John Judy after the talk.

"It Began in Brooklyn"................................. A Talk at The Art Institute of California

I've been invited by The Art Institute of California–Hollywood to give a talk – it's coming up on March 4th. Here, culled from the copy of the invite, a description of what I'll be discussing:

"Michael will delve into his past and share with the audience the primal sources for the sensibilities that drive his art, and how he came to do what he does. With graphic examples Michael will discuss how he discovered that his environment and surroundings while growing up made deep and lasting impressions in his young mind that are still blatantly reflected in the samples of work he’ll be showing from various stages in his career." Basically, it's a talk about inspiration, and how we're all surrounded things that may inspire us, even if we're not completely aware of them.

This is an open invite to all who are interested. The Art Institute is located at 5250 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.

After the talk I'll give away one CD copy of "The Alphabet Soup Font Collection" ($595 value) to one lucky attendee. There'll also be a WACOM tablet and a one year subscription to ($250 value) given away as well. Bring your calling cards for the raffle!

If you're thinking you'd like to attend, you can find more info and an RSVP link on my website, or on my Facebook Events page.

MyFonts Creative Characters Newsletter

I feel very honored that MyFonts chose me as the subject of their January 2011 Creative Characters Newsletter. It took the form of an interview, and in it I've answered a lot of questions, probably at greater length than I have in the past. So if you're curious as to what makes me tick, set aside 10 or 15 minutes and read this interview. If you still have any questions, I'll entertain them here!

All you information hounds can also check out the new "Interviews & Resources" page I've just set up on my website, where I've posted other interviews, articles, PDFs, etc., that I've done in the past. Now go write that report!

Back to the Future

My friend Jed Davis, for whose recording company Eschatone Records I had designed a vinyl record label, recently asked me to design packaging for an unusual project. While most people in the recording industry are trying to figure out "what's next", Jed was asking the question: how can I get back to basics? What came before MP3s, before CDs and Casettes, before 8–Tracks, and before 33, 45 and 78 RPM records? The answer: wax gramophone cylinders, of course! So Jed decided to release one of his own recordings not only as a digital download but, hoping to reach the untapped centenarian demographic, also as a limited edition, signed wax gramophone cylinder. But unfortunately, as Jed was to learn from The Vulcan Cylinder Record Company, it had to be made of hard plastic instead of the traditional wax. Undaunted, Jed decided to move ahead declaring that since it would be hard plastic "it will never degrade, no matter how many times you play it on your family Edison". He also decided to accommodate all those without gramophones by including a free digital download together with the purchase of the cylinder.

When Jed asked me to design the labels for the cylinder, I thought "Well, I've designed covers for LPs, for cassettes and for CDs. This may very well be my last opportunity to design a gramophone label." The title of his release was "Yuppie Exodus from Dumbo", and Jed gave me free reign to design both the wraparound label and the round label for the top of the cylinder container:


When the labels were finally printed by Vulcan, the colors came out a little differently from what I had designed, but I have to say that I'm pretty much OK with it. I think it does give it a slightly more vintage feel that's appropriate for this project:

This is a signed (by Jed and by me) and numbered edition limited to 50 cylinders. Hear the song and purchase the cylinder/download HERE—before it's too late!

Talk at the Type Directors Club

If you're going to be anywhere in the vicinity of New York City in late July, then I'd love to invite you to the talk I've been asked to give by the Type Directors Club. I'll be talking about my work, both new and old—and more specifically about all the influences I've had over the years that helped form my aesthetic sensibility, especially those that worked on me as kid growing up on the streets of Brooklyn. So is it "Nature or Nurture"? You be the judge!

I'll be in New York to attend the opening night festivities at Cooper Union on July 20th for TDC² 2010 – the show which honored my Deliscript fonts.

My talk will be held on Thursday, July 22nd, 6:00–8:00 PM at the Type Directors Club: 347 W. 36th St, #603, NYC.

Please RSVP to the TDC by Email or call them at (212) 633-8943 to reserve your spot.