Thursday, October 9, 2008

Villatype Interview - Joe Shouldice

Please tell us briefly about where you work and what you do.
Sagmeister Inc. Graphic Design.

Could you describe yourself in 5 words.

This euro cents project for Urban Play is quite incredible, could you please give us a brief introduction to it?
Very Brief-A quarter of a million euro cents were sorted by shade and then placed according to a master plan across a 300sqm area to form the sentence "Obsessions make my life worse and my work better"

Do you relate with the statement "Obsessions make my life worse and my work better"?
Ummm... yes!

How did you source that many euro cents?
We had the most amazing team working with us in Amsterdam. Many, many aspects of this project happened only through the organizational skills/leadership and overall goodness of Maaike Gottschal. Who also just happens to live in Amsterdam's greatest tourist attraction, "the smallest house."

How does one go about designing with euro cents/what are the mathematics of doing such a large scale design with so many individual small parts?
The first thing you need to do is make sure your name is Richard The. The design was created using the standard Adobe Suite, and converted into a 4-colour greyscale, with each pixel representing a single coin. After that Richard wrote a program in Processing which analyzed the design. From the Amsterdam team we knew our location had 60cm x 60cm tiles on the ground. The entire design was broken down into squares that would translate to these tiles. In all we had 520 tiles with coins on them. Richard's program took the overall design, and created 520 individual sheets that showed exactly where to place each shade of penny on each tile.

closeup of the master plan, each square = one sheet = one tile. In each square each pixel = 1 coin.

Closeup of the master plan after one day.

Was it difficult to get people to understand the method of how the euro cents were to be placed?
Luckily Richard had it set up so that it was virtually foolproof (although we still did manage to have at least one tile a day done completely upsidedown).

Closeup of one sheet showing the different shades of coins and where they need to be placed n a single tile.

Clipboards ready for volunteers.

Were the euro cents sorted in any way? (colour, age etc)
Yes, the eurocents were all sorted into four different bins based upon their naturally aged shades.

What is with the blue edge on some of the euro cents?
Actually the entire backside of every coin was painted bright blue. This was to give the coins a secondary life as they were spent and spread across Amsterdam and eventually Europe. Also it allowed people to turn them over and create their own artwork/message... this happened quite a bit, even considering the short lifespan in which the piece was 'free'

How was the typeface chosen? Is it based on an existing face or was it created by the shape/usage of the euro cents?
It was custom made.

How many typeface ideas were tossed about?
The design was reworked and improved many, many times.

Were there any complications while making the mural?
We severely underestimated the time that it would take to sort all the coins by shade. This made for some tense moments as we tried to calculate how much of the piece was done and how much time we had until the opening. Luckily every time that things seems to be out of reach we would get an email informing us that a class of 20 people was planning on coming by to do a couple tiles each. Really we couldn't have been luckier with the amount of people that came out to help. On top of that it was a great way to meet lots of cool locals–many of whom came out almost every single day.

Did you have any specific expectations of what the process was going to be like? And did you have any expectations of what it would be like once completed?
Personally I had intentionally tried not to think too much about what might happen... I think I had played out two possible (and obvious) scenarios, aside from that I was truly just excited for ANYTHING to happen.

Would you do something like this ever again?

The interviewee - Joe Shouldice is a Canadian graphic designer currently based out of Brooklyn, New York. He is a regular contributor to Villatype and I am pretty sure he likes pies and the wilderness.

The Interviewer - Jenn Lawrence is a Canadian graphic designer based in Toronto. She is a regular contributor to Villatype and I am fairly certain she likes pies and kites.

Photos courtesy of: Mr. Dennis de Groot of "A rad guy and good photographer." - Joe

1 comment: