Designer: James Johnson, Photographer: Peter Orkin, 1978

Designer: James Johnson, Photographer: Peter Orkin, 1978

Designer: Eric Madsen, Photographer: Chuck Keeler, 1980

Designer: Eric Madsen, Photographer: Chuck Keeler, 1980

Inspired by the Minnesota Graphic Design 77 and 79 exhibitions, the Macalester Galleries mounted an exhibition called Johnson, Johnston, Madsen, Seitz: Graphic Design in the fall of 1978. Curated by Cherie Doyle, this exhibit focused on the role of the graphic designer as both a problem solver and an artist. It explored how the graphic designer shapes our visual environment through the mass media, publications, and signs we see everyday. Institutional graphics, identity programs, educational materials, and typography by prominent Minnesota graphic designers James Johnson, Dale Johnston, Eric Madsen, and Peter Seitz was featured in this illuminating exhibition.

This was the first time an exhibition on Minnesota graphic design had been organized outside the confines of the Minnesota Graphic Designers Association (MGDA). The exhibit traveled to the University of Northern Iowa in 1980 and to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Iowa State University, and North Dakota State University in 1981.

The whimsical poster for the exhibit at Macalester College in St. Paul was designed by James Johnson. Eric Madsen remembers, “Jim asked the other three designers to send him a photostat of one of our logos and arrange it in rows of descending size. We didn’t know what he was going to do with the poster design, so when I sent him my stat, I attached a handwritten note, which you see in the lower left corner of the poster. (Jim added the tiger.) I didn’t realize he would actually incorporate the note into the poster design. He then had me write the other handwritten copy under our names. Crazy Jim!” Eric Madsen designed the poster for the traveling exhibit. He commented, “Compared to Jim’s playful poster, mine looks like a plate of lutefisk.” You’ve got to love that Minnesotan modesty.

Entrance to to the Johnson Johnston Madsen and Seitz Exhibition at the Macalester Galleries, 1978

Entrance to to the Johnson Johnston Madsen and Seitz Exhibition at the Macalester Galleries, 1978

Eric Madsen’s section of the exhibit at the Macalester Galleries, 1978

 


 

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Emily Weigel
Associate Director, Archives
Emily is a (book) designer living and working in Minnesota. She previously worked at Faceout Studio in Bend, Oregon as a book designer with many large publishing houses as well as small university presses and self-publishing authors. Emily discovered her love for book design while studying at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul which, sadly, is no longer open.

Prior to her (working) adventure in Oregon, Emily served as AIGA Minnesota's Associate Director of Archives as well as co-chaired Portfolio 1-on-1 for two years.