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ISU Inspire, still improving

2012 February 23
by Matt

The College of Design appears to be serious about this current attempt at a newsletter for alumni, as Inspire is up to its fourth issue now. At this rate, they may well wear me down as a reviewer, though for now I’ll give it another go. (Previous commentaries here, here and here.) First off, the cover is at least different, certainly:

Front cover of ISU inspire, vol. 2 issue 1

How... attractive...?

I guess it says something that I find this photo of garbage a positive development in terms of the newsletter’s cover art selections. Not that I consider it particularly good, in any way; it’s certainly possible to take an artful photograph of trash but I don’t think this is it. However it is also not a photo of white males in dark clothes. Finally, after three previous issues all squarely occupying that intersection of designer and midwestern clichés.

Of course, when you open up this issue the first photograph of a person is this:

White guy, dark shirt. Mais oui, bien sur.

Photo of a photo by Bob Elbert.

Sigh. Honestly don’t get me wrong here, nothing against white males in dark clothing; I’m a graduate of this institution and I happen to be about as white as they come, and inspired by The Steve have of late have increasingly often taken to wearing black turtlenecks. And if ISU is more diverse than the state of Iowa, as a whole, it’s still more white and male than anything else, last I checked. But come on.

Fortunately, on the whole, the fourth issue of Inspire goes a long way toward addressing this issue. In some ways this might almost be called “the women’s issue” of Inspire, with a two-page feature specifically about women in design professions and a group of ISU alumnae working to encourage them.

Members of Iowa Women in Architecture

Look, estrogen!!

Amazingly, we not only see women, but bright cardinal red clothing. Go Cyclones! And, turning the page, the next feature is dedicated to Interior Design grad Jennifer Irey, while after that, holy ArtGR can it be? A feature on graphic design! (In which we learn, among other things, that “the graphic design program has introduced a senior capstone course this spring.” I have to chuckle at this, as I have ever since first encountering the term back at DU and imagining a dignified Hispanic gentleman, Señor Capstone.)

Honestly, it’s like they’ve been reading my criticisms and gradually, issue by issue, responding to them one or two at a time.

If so, I suppose I might note that the design, particularly the color palette, still seems very muddy and bllllaaahhhhh. And that editorially, the newsletter still just seems pretty boring. Though as regards the latter criticism, I must be fair and note that for whatever reason I have just never been that interested in reading about graphic design. It’s been my job and frequently my hobby for going on 12 years, and I’ve taken to writing about it enthusiastically, and I’m a voracious reader generally, but not so much about other people’s graphic design work. Though, until this issue, the newsletter hasn’t included much of anything about graphic design anyway, sooooo I dunno.

I feel obligated to offer some sort of suggestion, here. Um. Write about the College of Design, as a whole, as it exists today, maybe? I hear that there’s more integration between the different arts, but how does it actually play out in real students’ experience? I think I might enjoy reading about that. And (or) pick a student and give us his or her typical day, hour by hour. Maybe with a map or other information graphic! Yeah, this might actually win my attention. Pick up an issue of Mental Floss, or just any sort of popular-audience periodical. That’s my thought.

I do try to help here, not just tear down.

One Response
  1. February 23, 2012

    “Look, estrogen!!” HA! I’m totally going to have to steal that sometime.

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