Justin Childress
Designer & Creative Director


Daily Record

March 3rd, 2017

The Topography of Typography

  1. The words on the printed surface are taken in by seeing, not by hearing.
  2. One communicates meanings through the convention of words; meaning attains form through letters.
  3. Economy of expression: optics not phonetics.
  4. The design of the book-space, set according to the constraints of printing mechanics, must correspond to the tensions and pressures of content.
  5. The design of the book-space using process blocks which issue from the new optics. The supernatural reality of the perfected eye.
  6. The continuous sequence of pages: the bioscopic book.
  7. The new book demands the new writer. Inkpot and quill-pen are dead.
  8. The printed surface transcends space and time.
  9. The printed surface, the infinity of books, must be transcended. THE ELECTRO-LIBRARY.

— El Lissitzky, 1923

It never ceases to amaze me how dependent cultural movement is on the Forcefully Declared Techno-futurist Opinion. My inability to claim objective truth in overtly subjective realms (in this case, the realms of medium and execution) cements my temporality as a designer, I’m afraid. History doesn’t smile on the flexible.

February 6th, 2017

Fertile Territories

Borders are not the razor-thin divisions between who we are and who we are not, but are instead the broad, frenetic, fertile territories in which we are forced to confront the cultural fictions on which we have been raised.

January 23rd, 2017

The Awkward Borderland

Periodically I wonder if I overanalyze the cultural role of what I do, of graphic design, or branding, or whatever we’re calling it today, as it seems to me like I can see it everywhere (not merely in object but in intent), in everything, in everyone, a universal force that is somehow culturally critical, socially critical, commercially critical, and individually critical. I see it, but do not know if what I see is what exists, or if it is merely a shadow cast by the rest of my life (life-as-practice), a manifestation of self-perception, of priorities and opinions. I see it, on good days, as a conduit that connects the past (both globally and individually) with the present, with a clear eye to the future. Being uniquely an art but with the aura of objectivity (of measurability, of “success” and “failure”) it allows for a perhaps unholy union between money and image, particularly money as the validating measure of self-image, particularly money as the dowery for this, an eternal perception that can help not only formulate goals, but parse psyche, and then translate into this, the “supposedly universal language” (that of symbols), and because of this it seems as though design (graphic design) is much more a question of psychoanalysis than it is of art. Design is interpretation, design is translation, and then again, it is both of these things balanced in that awkward borderland between monetary value and self-value that makes the discipline so unique, and so human, and so ripe for either abuse or under-valuation. Once a designer leans too much into the commercial (“marketing”) or the analytical (“academic”) the goal of their discipline invariably shifts, shifts either into economy or into “criticism”, both of which have their place on a spectrum, but neither of which engage with the true potential of the practice. This is the everlasting tension.