Exhibition Report – Friendly Futures

[ EDIT 12/8/2015 : Now the exhibition has its own website. Please check it.  http://ff.prty.nyc/ ]


Before reporting about my Photo Project, let me introduce an interesting exhibition in this city.

PARTY NYC started their first solo exhibition in USA, titled “Friendly Futures” at Usagi NY, Brooklyn.

In this exhibition, a multi-disciplinal creative lab bases in Tokyo and NY, PARTY seeks the possibilities of new pervasive technologies transformed into platforms for the connection between people and the society. The show features their 4 newly launching projects which the visitors can touch and interact with each installation. This experimental exhibition is a part of the whole creation process of PARTY and some of prototypes will be developed as real products at last.



Bookü is a book customization service that allows you & your friends to become the character of your favorite book. (And we can buy it as a Christmas Present definitely unique in the world!)

Time Travel Radio is a music player that navigates through time. Instead of tuning in to a radio station, you dial in to a year. ( I really enjoyed the amazing difference between the funky 1979 channel and the pip-pip techno 1980 channel.)

The Song Wig is a hairpiece made of earbuds that explores new ways of sharing music. (I’m so sorry to forget taking photos. During opening reception, a cute female model wore this wig and walked around the gallery to share her music with visitors.)

Disco Dog is the world’s first smartphone controlled full-color LED dog vest.You can choose an animation or type in a message using our Disco Dog application on your smartphone. ( You can see the official video here, to see how does it looks with a real dog.)


The co-founder of PARTY, Masa Kawamura’s another work are also exhibited in “StereoType: New Directions in Typography“. You Parsons students and Faculty might know it’s running on the Ground floor of 2 West 13th building, at Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center.


By the way, this title of exhibition sounds to me another meaning. Masa and I are university alumni, we had been enrolled the same laboratory of Media Design studies for years. I’m so happy to hold a reunion with my old friend in New York. I strongly recommend my classmates to have a experience, not only “seeing” this exhibition, but also “touching” their works. Yes, our future is here, smiling friendly.





Dates: November 20 – December 26, 2015
Opening hours: Tue. – Sat. 11am − 6pm
Venue: Usagi NY, 163 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, New York 11201

In the world of technology, everyone is in a rush to step forward. We want faster, smaller, smarter, and cheaper. But what if we also make the future friendlier? FRIENDLY FUTURES is our exploration of this idea. It’s a mini-expo of PARTY creations from a more friendly future.



The Fragmented Self | Self Poster

So I’m fairly new to blogging, I’ve been keeping it off for a while, but my Professor, Carmile Zaino has can be quite convincing and I’m glad that I’m climbing onto a new digital platform, and hopefully I can be as endearing as I am in person (or so I’m told).

Okay so enough about me, this post is about my very first assignment for the subject Process & Skills. This assignment seemed fairly simple at first, but as I went through the three weeks of revisions, I realised how much we need to push ourselves, and the main struggles for me have been to:

  • To make choices
  • To increase the contrast  and make it raw
  • To find a Photo Booth

We were asked to take grayscale photographs of ourselves at a Photo Booth in the city and use either our initials or our name with typefaces we found in any publication. The assignment required us to do everything by hand (minus a laptop).  I did not manage to find a single Photo Booth in the city I live in, Bombay. So I finally decided to take my pictures against a white backdrop at home. These are few of my home-booth photos that I had taken.


When I started clicking pictures for my self-portrait, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to be represented as. I believe that none of us are just one thing, we are all fragments of different personalities, feelings, emotions, moods. Not only this, but we alter ourselves based on the opposite person. If it is a stranger, I’m polite, with my friends I can go completely nuts, with my family I can be all that I am; even my worst possible self, at work I want to look competent, when I am with myself I day dream, I tie my hair back and it doesn’t matter how I look.

So there were so many different sides that I have, I cannot be defined by only one thing. That was the core around which I designed my entire self poster.

Week 1:


My house was A MESS. My parents were frantic. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. This assignment took me back to school, and all the craft classes I loved to take.

First Attempt

I created a box format, to show that even though we are seen only as one thing (the background image), we are fragmented into so many little things. I wanted to show this sort of contrasting personalities even in my typeface and so I have mixed it up a bit. The A is made of two alphabets, the g is in lowercase, the N is very light, the L is again two different typefaces.


The feedback I received was to make the poster more raw, have a lot of contrast, make the design clean, and use punk posters to take inspiration from.

Week 2:


punk art-01

There were different things that jumped right at me while I was browsing the various punk posters. Initially I was not a fan of them, but being a designer requires us to broaden our perspectives, not stick to only one path, one opinion but test out different waters. As I researched more, I saw beauty in the little things. There were things I loved and things that I did not, but each poster had a lot to display. The montage’s, cut body parts, rawness, cut out alphabets, hints of colour, rebellion, freedom, anti-neat approach, all these character appealed to me.

Poster 2
Second Attempt


Alternative ideas
Alternative 1
Screenshot 2015-09-15 01.06.34
Alternative Idea 2

To be honest, I misunderstood the feedback I received from the previous week, and was of the mindset that I had to improve my poster by creating something  new. So I went on a different path, and took and decided to increase the contrast and make it raw by tearing the edges of all the pictures, and tried to recreate the montages I had seen in the punk poster’s.


I had two very distinct posters, and needed to decide which way to go. Also, I had to push myself and make the poster look raw, and use a photocopy machine to get that effect.

Week 3:

All the research on the poster designs of the different eras, Russian Constructivists, Avant Grande movements, artists like Lucian Bernard, helped me make my choices, and refine final design. I decided to stick to my original idea, and below is my final self-poster.


So I decide to use symbols throughout my poster to denote my core concept of having various identities and personalities. I hope the text in the image below is readable, if not here are the contrasting symbols:

  • Photocopied images v/s modern printed images
  • one big image v/s many small images
  • neat grid v/s the alphabet ‘a’ breaking the grid
  • whole pictures v/s cut out’s


Street Art Poster Essay & Street Book

The first part of the project was a photo essay.   We had to shoot a minimum of 75 photos and then narrow it down 12 photos and post it on a 15×20 illustration board.  The photos had to be printed and not altered.  My subject was street art in NYC.  I’ve always been fascinated and passionate about and NYC is the perfect place for that.  I think that street art is one of the most beautiful things about NY and also very misunderstood.  Even when I’m in a rush if I come across murals I will stop and stare.  This was a really interesting and exciting project to work on because it was very inspiring and fun.  So it didn’t seem like work, more like an adventure.  It was really exciting to find new pieces.  The photo essay was incredibly inspiring that I decided to carry it onto my next project where we had to make a book.


From this essay I began working on my Street Art book.  The book had to be non-adhesive and 16 pages. I wanted to make a book inspired by the beautiful street art that  lives in our backyard.  Banksy said “People become cops to make the world a better place.  People become vandals to make the world a better looking place.”  This was a powerful quote that really aims at the misconceptions about street art.  I wanted to make a book that showed the beauty of street art, the beautiful colors, patterns and illustrations.  I started looking up different types of folded books and photo collages.   I decided to draw NYC city and then use the photos I had taken and clip them behind the buildings to build a colorful bright city with street art from all over the city.  Imagine a world with color. Because of this concept I decided to  go with an accordion fold where the book would open to a landscape of NYC.


After all my research I had to go digital to create the city illustration and edit the photos.  I made several rounds of mockups. One issue that I came across in the beginning was that each image was gigantic and I had about 15 images and (I needed a total of 25-30 images) my file was already 3 gigabytes! (Yikes). Then I had to start over but luckily it was early in enough that I didn’t really panic.  Another issue I came across was how to make the images look cohesive with all these different patterns and colors.


Some images that I really loved had to be take out because it didn’t go with the color palette.  I was a little bummed but I’m sure I’ll be able to use the images for other projects.  For the back pages  I included the actual images of the street art so whoever bought the book can put have a souvenir of the actual art piece.  After the  mockups and various versions it was time to fine tune the placement of each image which was incredibly gruesome but all worth it in the end and narrowing the images used.

And now the Final Piece!


And folded (Front) & (Back)




I was happy with the way the piece turned out.  Even though the city was made up of so many different images it somehow remained cohesive and powerful.  The entire process was a great adventure and only fueled the fire for my love of street art.

Spotlight | Jennifer De Klaver | Featured on NBC Today Show | AAS Graphic Design Alumna

After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Business Administration, Jennifer began working in corporate events. However, it was during her time as a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines, that her interest in design became re-invigorated. She started working on some of her own design projects and realized she wanted to formalize her education. After some research, she found and was accepted to the Parsons AAS program and headed to New York. “I was riding by in a taxi”, she said, “and as we passed Parsons I said to myself, I’m going to go there”. And sure enough she did!

Shortly after graduating from Parsons in 2005, Jen started her own design company in New York and quickly gained a following of clients such as Colette Malouf and the Chelsea Art Museum. With her increased notoriety, she was contacted by Target, who offered her a job as senior art director at their headquarters in Minneapolis. It was there that Jennifer found her stride. Working at Target gave Jennifer the opportunity to have a hand in many aspects of design, including creating catalogs, directing of photo shoots, collaborating with designers and leading castings in New York and Los Angeles. She also headed up some of the larger campaigns such as Club Wed, and was a part of the “Big Idea” committee.

Target catalogs
Target catalogs
Target Valentine's Day
Target Valentine’s Day

With all the expansive knowledge she gained while working at Target, and after a brief tenure as VP of operations at an online invitation company in Los Angeles, she became Creative Director for the Canadian clothing company Joe Fresh. It was her team that was tasked with launching the brand in the US, and she oversaw the re-branding of the website, gave extensive photo direction, and made Joe Fresh a staple in the US, all in less than six months!

Joe Fresh web
Joe Fresh web
Joe Fresh home
Joe Fresh home

In her next position as VP of Creative at West Elm, Jennifer led a team to develop monthly catalogs, digital design, packaging and signage.

West Elm Catalog

Most recently Jennifer’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and she launched together with business partner Jen Worthington, bella j.  , a lifestyle beauty / gift brand of over 25 beautifully packaged products that are sold online, at Nordstrom and various boutiques. The brand is playful and colorful and comes to life with Sujean Rim‘s illustrations (another Parsons alumni). Inside each product is a hidden charm with some of the candles even containing a $10,000 diamond necklace – its the Cracker Jack / Willy Wonka of beauty gifts! They even sell notebooks in some beautiful patterns which are great for sketching! Parsons students take note!

bella-j. advertising campaign
bella-j. advertising campaign
bella j. advertising campaigne
bella j. advertising campaign
bella-j. packaging
bella-j. packaging

Here are bella-j. candles on the Today Show as Jill Martin’s featured choices for Mother’s Day perfect gifts!



For those people who are interested in taking a left turn in their career, Jennifer is a shining example of what can be done with a little bit of bravery and a lot of creativity. “I learned so much at Parsons AAS Graphic Design and was inspired by some so many of the professors”, she said. When asked if she had any regrets, she simply stated “No regrets!” !

Q: I wish I’d known before I started… 
A: That you didn’t need to know anything about graphic design before you start! The Parsons AAS GD program is so comprehensive.

Q: What is your favorite typeface?
A: It’s a really hard decision, but right now I’ve been loving the clean lines of Brandon Grotesque Light. 

Q: What advice do you have for students who are just starting out? 
A: Do as many internships as you can. You’ll learn so much in the classroom but it’s just as important to know how to apply your skills in real life.

Interview by Kiel Guba, AAS GD
Photography and edit: Katarzyna Gruda

How to spot America’s most loved beer? Look for Betsy the purple cow

cnbc 200

After two weeks and thousands of votes, Newburgh Brewing Co.’s Cream Ale beer label was crowned the 2015 winner of CNBC‘s Most Loved Label competition.

Since we never tried the beer – our belief is that the man behind the design is responsible for the win. After all it was competition for the most loved label and not the best beer. The label was designed by Philadelphia-based design firm Modern Good run by Matthew Bouloutian, a former adjunct faculty at AAS Graphic Design.
It features Betsy the cow which was created for a poster for the Cream Ale a few years before.

Modern Good_NBC_4BeerPosters
Four Beer Posters for Newburgh Brewing Company
Here is what Matthew Bouloutian told us about process of the design:


Our can design first began in 2012 when we created Betsy the Cow (with her two little side kicks) as the main subject for a promotional poster for Newburgh Brewing Company’s first beer, their cream ale. This poster along with 5 others, one for
each of their beers, was produced with the intention that when Newburgh Brewing decided to package their beer they would already have an iconic solution to represent each one. Each poster revolved around a unique illustration for the beer based on its name or character. Two years passed before the can design project became a reality. When it came time to start distributing the beer in cans,
I used our icon of Betsy, the established typography and colors from the poster to design a label, which basically looked like the poster with some adjustments. Chris Basso, the head brewmaster at Newburgh Brewing ultimately felt it wasn’t exciting enough and pushed for something more. I was surprised but Chris felt strongly about making something adventurous. He mentioned that other breweries had done some trailblazing in packaging their beer. At this point I had to do something very different. Our cow icon was already in use and wasn’t going to change so the design had to. 
After exploring design ideas we arrived at this patchwork, wraparound design which was engaging to pick up and explore. It allowed us to feature our beer icons as well as the town of Newburgh and other bits of information about the beer and spirit of the brewery. It also didn’t look like any other label we’d seen. There was lots to look at, read and discover. It has a pop/craft impression that is lighthearted but conveys a respect for heritage. The shelf presence is strong and I’ve heard that it’s been very successful in terms of sales… but who knows if that’s our can design or the beer! I’d like to think it’s both. Cheers.

Newburgh Brewing Website
Newburgh Brewing Website

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 3.25.41 PM

Paul Halayko, Newburgh Brewing Company, discusses the inspiration behind his cream ale beer, and the craft brewing craze.

Editor: Katarzyna Gruda

Spotlight | Jason Booher | Book Cover Designer | AAS Graphic Design Faculty & Alumnus

Parsons AAS Graphic Design Alumnus (’05) and Faculty Jason Booher talked with current student Kiel Guba about how he came to Parsons, how he got his first
job, and his experience as a book cover designer and teacher


After obtaining a degree in English Literature
at Princeton University, Jason pursued his childhood dream of becoming a high school English teacher. His career started by teaching
at Eton College in England (he had to wear
a tuxedo to class!) and then Trenton High School (NJ). While he enjoyed teaching, he felt that something was missing from his life. He
quit and bounced around for a few years living in England and Australia where a friend hired him as a personal chef. Despite Bondi Beach beckoning him each day, Jason continued to paint and draw (something he has desperately tried to fit into his schedule as an undergrad) and attempted to make a graphic novel.

When he returned to the US, he took a continuing education course at Parsons on a whim, and through it found out that graphic design existed everywhere and about the Parsons AAS GD program, which he chose as his path into the design world.
“I never really knew about graphic design, let alone considered it as a career,” he says, “but when I started attending classes, I knew immediately it was what I should have been doing all along. Parsons’ AAS Graphic Design was perfect and intense; it really felt more like an MFA program”.

After graduating, Jason started designing book interiors part-time at Dubé Juggling. This freed him up to shop his portfolio to designers he would want to work for, specifically looking for book cover design work. “By the end of school, I figured out graphic design is about selling something”, Jason says “and I knew I would only be able to design well if I was selling something I believed in—I believe in books”.


02.-Gone-away_angelmakerUltimately he landed a job in the art department at Penguin, and soon after found himself in his dream job designing book covers at Alfred A. Knopf. His wife, Helen Yentus, is also a designer and they collaborate often on projects, although he admits with their current jobs they have less times to work together. Jason is currently the Art Director at Blue Rider Press as well as a part-time History of Graphic Design professor at Parsons.


Jason’s work is evocative without being heavy-handed – his covers have just enough information to draw the reader in without revealing too much. They are beautifully and thoughtfully designed and speak both to his great understanding of literature as well as his talent for design.


Q: How do you come up with a cover design for a book?
A: It’s different every time. Reading the book is important. Sometimes I sketch starting with the title and author. Sometimes I am making thumbnails from the very beginning. Sometimes I have a clear idea immediately of what I want to do and start there. Sometimes I read the book and then wait for months until I start really coming up with something. Most of the time I have some idea that I then work through and throw away and move on from there. But I love the process. I get to fall in love with each book and work to find something visually interesting that connects to it’s soul.


Q: What is your favorite typeface?
A: I don’t have one. Type is contextual. But maybe Futura.
Q: What is some of the best advice you received from a Parsons professor?
A: Something I learned very early in my first graphic design class with Julia Gorton has always stayed with me. In the critique of our first projects she burned into us that your design should not be like everyone else’s; it should be unique within its context. That’s something I try to keep in mind each time I start a new project.
Q: Who is your favorite graphic designer?
A: That’s an easy one—Helen Yentus.


Q: You have been teaching design in the AAS program now almost as long as you have been designing, has that affected how you design?
A: There has been no experience or thing that has effected my design or how I think about design as deeply as teaching the History of Graphic Design. Beyond the exposure to great historical designs and soaking in the relationships that I find within them, I was forced to develop a language of design that moved beyond critiquing contemporary designs (either my students’ work or my work in progress). I had to find a way to speak about or discuss design outside the glossy historical narrative with students, a way to move into designs that weren’t their own. Most examples of this kind of dialogue I have found in books have not been helpful to me, because the language used doesn’t relate to how I think about design. However, Paul Rand’s words from his Conversation with Students have. “Design is relationships.” That’s were I start, and it opens up designs in almost any direction I want to push myself and the students.


Through teaching, as much as designing, I quickly came to believe innovation in formal execution to be as important (or perhaps more important) as conceptual expression in most design. Certainly in book packaging. Looking at formal relationships in historical designs as a way to find a unique visual moments in contemporary designs is what my class is about. And it is what I passively and sometimes actively do in my own work. At the very least, I certainly benefit from an accumulation of discussions of various effective relationships. And because I have had to verbally express why I think things work, I can look at something I am designing and not rely on intuitive instinct as to why any given relationship is or isn’t working. Surely I use intuition when I design. But for some reason being able to talk about the decisions I am making intelligently (as in it is intelligible) with another human designer has given me a way to push things further.


Editing and photography: Katarzyna Gruda

Self-Portrait Poster

The self-portrait poster for Process & Skills had a very specific criteria: it could only be made up of our photos taken in a black and white photo booth, found type from our name or initials, and we could only use a photocopier to manipulate our images.

The first thing I did was head to the library to do some research. The Russian Constructivism posters were the ones that I identified with the most because of how geometric and bold they are. These are some of the images that inspired me.

Russian Constructivism Posters

After doing some research, I decided to make the shape of my poster out of my initials, M and N, and create a strong contrast between the photos and the found type by working with a positive vs. negative and chaos vs. order concept. During the process, I did a lot of sketching to help me visualize the ideas I had in my head. It was the most efficient and quickest way to determine whether an idea had potential or not.

Found Type

My poster went through three different phases. The concept remained the same throughout, but the execution needed to be improved in order to make the concept clearer and stronger.

First Version
Second Version


The concept of my poster is the duality between positive vs. negative and chaos vs. order. The poster is divided in two: the photos (positive area) and the type (negative area). The order vs. chaos comes into play in both the photos and the type.

The shapes and lines that make up the poster are my initials, M and N, which create six right triangles. The poster has no up, down, left, or right. It could be seen from any angle and you will always be able to read the initials. The poster contains juxtapositions of chaos and order and how they work together. The photos hold a random pattern, indicating chaos. But the pattern is created using the same strip of photos over and over in the same direction, indicating order. The type is very geometric, angular, and increasing in size in an organized way, indicating order. However, they aren’t all the same type or size, indicating chaos.

Final Version