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Silas Munro Designers Talking AIGA Educators blog

Designers Talking: Alphabetic Image of The City in Milwaukee

June 2, 2016

VCFA’s Chair Emeritus Silas Munro just wrote a fascinating essay called “Designers Talking: Alphabetic Image of The City in Milwaukee” for the AIGA Design Educators blog. Within, he talks about race, marginalized communities, class, boots, art, design, and a whole lot more—all centered on his recent Designers Talking residency in Milwaukee, WI.

Silas Munro Designers Talking AIGA Educators blog

An excerpt:

So on the Thursday of my spring break, after a few days of rest, relaxation and portfolio reviews, I dropped my dog off at daycare, and loaded up my car with the necessary tools for defining graphic design: my macbook pro laptop, iPhone 6S cellphone, black and colored sharpies, super sticky post-its, giant newsprint post-it pads, chipboard, and a silhouette cameo cutter. Oh yeah and my mind, my hands and my heart. And two pairs of boots—one for fashion and one for slogging in the snow. Everything and anything to leverage design thinking and design making for a two-day graphic design residency called Designers Talking. I proposed a brief called Alphabetic Image of the City, inspired by Kevin Lynch’s book Image of the City and ideas from the Situational International to operate a form of “typogeography” by engaging in a “typographic dérive” through the city that would end with a community drawn alphabet. These are fancy international art english words, for a walk around the city inspired by its typographic and urban character.


The residency is curated by Nate Pyper. Nate works as a designer at the Milwaukee Art Museum, but Design Talking is organized independently by him. The format is a one-day design residency and exhibition that closes with a public opening that same night. The residency is followed the next day with an afternoon salon that also welcomes anybody from Milwaukee’s community to discuss the work. Even though you have several months to plan your project, ostensibly you are performing a one-day design charrette by yourself with Nate as your life line. So my crazy ambitious proposal was actually remotely possible. As someone who has led a lot of design workshops in various contexts, from design schools to business improvement districts I knew I wanted to take a different tack than just work generated solely by me.

Silas Munro Designers Talking AIGA Educators blog

Read the entire essay here on the AIGA Educators blog.