Lance Wyman is one of the most important logo designers. His work can be seen all around the world, including MÃ©xico.
â€˜My father ran a commercial fishing boat and I spent time on the Atlantic with him during grade school years. Kearny was an industrial area and I worked in the factories during the summers to pay my college tuition. The no-nonsense functional aesthetic of the sea and the factories has been an important influence in my approach to design.
In 1960, I graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, with a degree in Industrial Design. I met a student who studied logo design with Paul Rand at Yale, and I knew I wanted to design logos too. I started my career in Detroit, Michigan, first with General Motors, and later with the office of William Schmidt.
In 1966, I went to Mexico City with Peter Murdoch to participate in a competition to design the graphics for the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. It was the beginning of an adventure that has continued to influence my work and my life. The Mexico68 logotype that I designed was instrumental in winning the competition. The resulting design program, a multidimensional integration of logos, typography and colour, developed to communicate to a multilingual audience, was cited by Philip Meggs in the book A History of Graphic Design as â€œone of the most successful in the evolution of visual identificationâ€. The lessons from this program have been a constant guide to my work.â€™
Lance Wyman is now based in NYC, with his own studio and teaching.
What is your favourite photo of New York City?
The first photo that comes to mind is a sailor embracing a young girl in Times Square just after World War II. I was a young boy then and that picture expressed a feeling of the city I hope to never lose. I have just googled the photo and found itâ€™s The Kiss at Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Apparently the sailor was kissing all the girls and got a slap from this particular nurse. Now I have another layer of information to add to my original impression.
How involved is photography in your life and in your personal work?
Photography is my work partner and a fun part of my life. It helps me create, record, present and catalog my professional design work. I have fun recording daily happenings. It enables me to compile theme stories for my students (I teach a graphic design course at Parsons School of Design, here in New York).
It helps me keep in touch visually with friends over the web.
Can we say that some of your designs are a synthesis of some photography?
Iâ€™ve not thought of it that way but I have created images that are part photography, part geometry and colour. The athlete silhouette stamps I designed for the Mexico68 Olympics are good examples.
With digital photography, many graphic designers are becoming well known photographers. Do you think that for the graphic designers it is easier to jump to photography?
Digital photography has turned everyone into photographers, as computers have turned everyone into designers. New technology is continually changing the way we define our job titles, in the art world, in the design world, and in our schools. As far as successfully incorporating photography, we are all living with a moving target.
What do you think about the enormous photographic documentation that exists nowadays with the digital photography?
Quantity doesnâ€™t always equal quality but I like that more people are now able to document and tell stories through pictures. Digital photography offers inexpensive
technical quality to anyone interested.
Nowadays, the image rights of people and photographs are more protected. Do you think that this is on the side of creativity of the personal work?
Trademarking and copyrighting are designed to protect ownership of originality. On one hand, this helps keep creative people creative in an original way, on the other hand, it can limit the scope and depth of artistic expression because the artist canâ€™t use certain images.
I feel flattered when someone chooses to integrate my work into successful artistic expressions, but Iâ€™m not happy when my work is copied to solve a similar design problem.
For the conventional photography it took a long time and a lot of work to enter the big circuits of art. For this new fusion of digital photography and design it seems it was a lot faster. What do you think the reason is?
I recently visited the Mexico City studio and home of the late Manuel Ãlvarez Bravo, one of my favourite Mexican photographers. I think, compared to traditional painting and sculpture, conventional photography has been limited by its technology and materials. The perception in the art world is that you got a lesser bang for your buck.
One ingredient of successful conventional photography is that the photographer has a good design sense, the ability to work effectively with the technology and
materials deemed part of the conventional photographic art form. Today, photographic expression has fewer restrictions. Technology has enabled the photographer and the designer to have a much wider range of end results.
Maybe we can actually talk about a new way of artistic expression, this melting of digital photography and design, or is it only a tool for the artists?
I think it already is a new way of artistic expression. It is an exciting aid and also a challenge to producing meaningful works of art.
Which is the first characteristic you look for in a photograph? Light, composition?
I think the first thing is how I am moved by the photograph. It might be controversy, it might be a new look at the obvious, it might be a powerful attraction with no immediate understandable reason. I think it is always a quest for interaction, an experience of connecting with the image.
When will we see a book or exhibition of your photographic work?
I am working on a book of my design work and after contemplating some of your questions, I am beginning to see that my photography will be an important part of it.