Throwback to the 70’s

About two weeks ago, we decided to take a mini trip to Ocean Springs, MS. It is only an hour from here. We rented a place through AirBnB. The trip was full of several pleasant surprises. One of them was encountering jelly fishes in the bay. Needless to say, we did not venture in the water. This was not one of the pleasant surprises.

Among the pleasant surprises was finding a collection of vinyl records the house’s owner had in the living room. Oh! The memories of some of the songs flooded my mind! As a designer, however, my eyes feasted on the typography and the design of each record cover. I grew up in the seventies but my appreciation of the typographic subtleties allow me to not only reminisce but to also take in all the color, the shapes, the layout, and the patterns. These record covers are just gorgeous. Notice the Bobby Hacket record cover and the Bee Gee’s. The type is beautifully done. On Hacket’s record the type sits on an uprising curve and underneath there is a gorgeous monochromatic pattern of swirls. The dimensional type on the Bee Gee’s is outstanding as well. And consider that these were done before we could use the computer to set the type!

Typographic design reflects not only the technology with which it was produced but it also reflects the cultural styles and ideas of the times. I always say to my students that typography is not just a work of art, but it is also a political statement. The fonts chosen for a job are chosen based on several parameters. The most important ones being the purpose of the design and the designer’s interpretation of the client’s needs.

And speaking of type reflecting culture, take a look at this book cover I found at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. Notice the bounce of the letters mimicking the notes on a staff. The typeface itself is whimsical and shows a beautiful contrast between the thick lines and the thin outline.

©2016 Alma Hoffmann
©2016 Alma Hoffmann

Design and typography evolve with the culture and the technology. But as much as they evolve, we become used to seeing things set in a typeface and its arrangement. So much so that, when it is slightly changed, those who notice, have a lot to say. But, it does not have to be a typographic decision alone the one that creates an uproar. Instagram, for instance, recently changed their logo and for a few weeks it was the topic of conversation among designers. In my opinion, though I did not write a statement or response to it, the old logo had a charm and flare that the new one doesn’t. The old logo communicated that idea of the old days when cameras were advertised as a “the Kodak moment” or “the time of your life.”

Design is also an expression of inner struggles, questions, search for meaning and authenticity, and a desire to resonate, to communicate and find others who are like-minded. This brings me to another very pleasant surprise in Ocean Springs, MS. That is the Walter Andserson Museum. Walter Anderson was an artist based in Ocean Springs. He also worked for the WPA program and painted several murals. He was fascinated by the flora and fauna of the region and cave paintings. His paintings show the influence of these aspects on him. He painted with a certain energy that reminded me of Van Gogh’s work. Not surprisingly similar to Van Gogh’s, Anderson’s talent was in unison with his struggle with mental illness. Here are some photos of his work and some of his quotes.

One of the things I always like to photograph is signage, specifically brick ads or ghost ads. There was this fountain soda place in downtown with a gorgeous brick ad on the side. Take a look here.

© 2016 Alma Hoffmann
© 2016 Alma Hoffmann

Ocean Springs is very close to Biloxi, MS. Uniting them is a 2-mile bridge on which you can walk. We didn’t do the walk because or daughter gets nervous on bridges where cars come and go fast, as this one was. But I was able to take some photos at night and it was beautiful. Take a look.

Here are other photos I took. The first three photos below are from the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. I found the architecture of this museum to be fascinating. The angles of each building and the contrast of the materials are striking.

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