I LIVE IN THE VISUAL ARTS. I do Human Interface Design, Graphic Design and Illustration. I take thousands of Photographs, I create Patterns for surfaces and technology, I worked for a decade as a Painter. I’ve designed and made Ceramics and Textiles.
Now my focus is new practices in Interactive Design. I am also following a long-term path into the plight of endangered species. The intention of this project is to bring endangered species first to coloring books, and broaden into devices, growing into arena-scaled installations and graphic presentations. One man’s voice in a very big problem.
My interest in making artwork began when I was blind.
Less than seven percent vision in both eyes meant I could see little more than light and dark. Born and raised in South Africa, one of six Jewish kids in a Catholic school of two thousand, my eye problems pushed me to the periphery socially and academically.
Steeped in some sick form of so-called religious disciplinary observance, my “teachers”, ominous, humorless men, in black, ankle-length robes, seemed to take pleasure in the regular brutality of the beatings they administered to the backsides of little boys, using whippy bamboo canes kept in long custom robe pockets. I toughened up. But I hated school.
As I entered my teens, unable to see, I was flown off to Switzerland, for a six month wait in The Dolder Grand Hotel, until my left eye was mature enough for a corneal transplant. Bored and restless, in a huge hotel, I found a high silent room with soaring windows covered by deep gold velvet drapes, all but shutting out daylight.
I brought in large thin sheets of drawing paper, and thick stubs of charcoal. I knelt on the carpeting and bent over the paper. I began to draw. And draw. And I did not stop. There was no thought about being an artist. I was not following any passion. I was bored. And had stumbled across an activity that gave me instant feedback. The compulsion to draw was to get better feedback. And so I kept drawing. I became obsessively committed to this work. Hobbies became immaterial. This continues to this day.
Three days after the surgery, the bandages were removed, the back of the bed raised and I found myself staring at the floor in amazement. I saw, under years of deep glossy polish, a flecked, cork-like texture. I could see texture.
It’s the first thing one loses when vision starts to go — the ability to see texture. When a camera lens snaps into sharp focus, we know it, thanks to texture. A year later I had the second transplant to my right eye in New York. I finished high school, and entered Johannesburg College of Art. Situated in a bleak building in a seedy area of downtown Johannesburg, my fellow students and I watched hookers across the street, first port of call for ex-convicts just released from the state prison. I double majored in Product Design and Graphic Design for four years, graduating with a First Class Associates Degree.
I went on to attend Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, spending three years immersed in graphics, illustration, and fine art. I graduated BFA (Honors), after which I packed some belongings into a van and drove out of LA, my heart already in New York. I did not know a single person in New York City. I pushed my portfolios in front of every art director I could meet, and freelance life began. I was filled with the thrill of the ride! I made artwork until midnight before going out and dancing until dawn in small, packed, downtown clubs, or watching the newest punk bands pound their hearts out, sometimes to a very small audience. It was punk rock, the front door of a young paradigm shift that raged energy; it was just catching fire; it infected music, design and the arts, magazines, clothing, hair styles, it had attitude, it was pared down, and I was airborne by its power. From a visual and musical viewpoint, it slapped a slumbering youth culture awake.
I worked for large corporations, WNBC-TV New York (four years), Revlon, Estee Lauder, Bergdorf Goodman, New York Institute of Technology, New York Times Publishing, New York Magazine, Esquire, among many others. And my work with tiny adventures—start ups— are the sparks that lit my road. After ten years of this, I turned to fine art, a decade long immersion in abstraction, fired by the giant abstract works that dominated the soaring lobbies of New York skyscrapers. My paintings now hang in public and private collections in eight countries.
I began to feel pulled back to working in the commercial marketplace, outside the gallery. I was astounded at the precision of a print created with work done on a Macintosh computer. It became my tool of choice. I work widely in graphic design, illustration, photography. After working as an art director for a multimedia company, charged with all design and branding, I changed direction to design large patterns for architectural surfaces. My life does not follow a well-worn path. I am now busy with design for Mobile, the Web, Information Architecture, and Interaction. The more the categories break apart the more they have at their center the same spine inside all good design. It is intimate. It is capable of being wordless. And behind it is a story.
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