For its sixth event, Character proudly presented the Australian Premiere of two very special films Typeface and Proceed and Be Bold!.
In addition to the new letterpress films, a wider conversation on the revival of craft and the emerging 'slow design' movement took place, featuring Carolyn Fraser and David Lancashire. Presented in partnership with ACMI Cinemas, the 2010 State of Design Festival, the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) and Letterbox.
Character was once again proudly brought to you by the RMIT Communication Design Program, School of Media and Communication.
Carolyn Fraser is a Melbourne-based writer and letterpress printer. In 2005, after eleven years in the US, she shipped a 20ft. container of letterpress equipment to Melbourne and re-established Idlewild Press. Her fine press books are in national and international collections, including the State Library of Victoria, the New York Public Library, Yale University and the Library of Congress. She is a regular contributor to Uppercase magazine, writing predominantly about the history and culture of craft practices.
David's expansive design experience ranges from logos and printwork, which is represented in prestigious local and international collections and museums, to exhibition spaces and, most notably, interpretive design, evident in world-class visitor and cultural centres across Australia, including the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. His distinctive work in this area derives from an abiding interest in cultural diversity, open-hearted collaboration with Indigenous cultures and capacity for understanding the natural environment. David Lancashire is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a board member of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda).
Stephen Banham is founder of Letterbox. Stephen has written and produced numerous publications on the cultural aspects of typography as well as lecturing on the subject at RMIT since 1991. He has spoken at design events from New York to Barcelona, New Zealand to Beirut. Stephen first initiated the Character events in 2005.
Typeface focuses on a rural Midwestern museum / print shop where international artists meet craftsmen and combine modern design and traditional technique. It’s a Thursday afternoon and all is quiet in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Main Street is virtually empty, and there are “for rent” signs in several shop windows. In the last few years, the un-employment rate has been consistently on the rise in the region. Factories are leaving the heartland for cheaper locales and the little town of Two Rivers is struggling to re-invent itself. Jim VanLanen, one of the town’s most industrious entrepreneurs, began developing small museums as a way to bring tourists and industry to the area.
A few blocks off the main drag, in a section of the old cavernous Hamilton printing factory, a lone employee waits in the most popular of these museums for visitors to come. A couple of individuals straggle in every few days and then, come Friday, the museum fills with life. Machines hum, presses print, artists buzz about. One weekend each month, the quiet of Two Rivers is interrupted as carloads of artisans drive in from across the Midwest. The place comes alive as printmaking workshops led by, and filled with, some of the region’s top creative talent descend on the sleepy enclave. The museum is significant to the town’s history, but more importantly, its existence is critical to the worldwide design community who are passionate about the history of their craft and its function in the contemporary field. They believe the future of their industry may lie in the past.
Typeface, Kartemquin’s latest documentary in progress, will bring this fascinating junction of historical and contemporary, as well as rural and urban America together for enjoyment and contemplation.This film will be of interest to art and graphic design enthusiasts, to teachers as an educational resource, and to anyone looking for a film about perseverance and preservation in the heart of America.
At 40 years of age, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. abandoned the traditional American Dream to follow his own. Unsatisfied with his comfortable, middle-class life, Amos traded in his computer for a printing press and his white collar for a pair of overalls. Armed with life, liberty, peanuts, and a meager yearly income of $7,000, Amos cranked out a new, mutinous declaration of independence.
Proceed and Be Bold! joins Amos for a titillating retelling of his story, while examining the pretensions and provisions of the art world. The work of this self-proclaimed “Humble Negro Printer” raises emotionally-charged questions and reveals remarkable depth beneath the bold print. By learning the rules and then choosing to break them, Amos redefines what life (and letterpress printing) can be: exhilarating and subversive.
His provocative sense of humor seeps out of every word he speaks and his radical philosophies on the American consciousness (or unconsciousness) will awaken any listless bystander. After experiencing Amos' humble journey, you'll never look at your middle class life the same way again.