Rare Form

Art Institute of Chicago, Permanent Collection

This Project was a Collaborative Effort
DESIGN TEAM: Nick Adam | EXHIBITION: Typeforce 1
RESIDES: Art Institute of Chicago, Permanent Collection
It was an honor having work selected to be showcased in the inaugural Typeforce exhibition. This opportunity was my introduction to Firebelly design and the greater design community. The collection was purchased by Rick Valicenti for the 3st office, then was acquired by Zoë Ryan for the Permanent Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago.
PROJECT CONCEPT:
Our history—that is evidence-based human history—began the moment symbols were applied to surface. This provided the opportunity for thoughts, messages, and memories to be transmitted across geography and time. The success of this innovation exponentially accelerated humanity through the understanding of prior experiences, knowledge, accomplishments, and failures.

In turn, on the societal scale, we operate within the law of large numbers, continually arriving to the new adjacent possible quicker and further than ever before.
Development, as a term, is often used to frame change across time as an accomplishment or steps towards innovation. A more truthful definition is that it is a process in which there is change. Without a doubt, our symbolic codes and the cultures in which they reside have gone through change, allowing for massive growth and advancement of our lives. 

However, it is in this success that contemporary life has developed into a series of environments increasingly congested with informational messages.
The average person in a developed nation encounters 5,000-20,000 of these informational messages per day. Due to the proliferation and ease of use of today’s message making tools, many of these messages escape their intended function of providing insight or meaning because they are poorly produced and lack visual rhetoric. At this rate and without resonance, our minds cannot process these messages; they act solely as congestion in our minds and visual landscape. As a period in time, humanity’s present state is one of perpetual sensory overload affecting both space and time.

These two elements are the foremost important factors that we base our experience on. Each element has a limited quantity, yet our communication congestion assumes an overabundance, thus negatively impacting the human condition.
Amongst the most prolific examples of this congestion are the plastic corrugated signs that aggressively fill the public space prior to an election. 

In an act of info-reduction, signage from an Illinois gubernatorial primary was removed from public spaces to be repurposed as canvases. By violating the one-color graphics with simple, jovial, hand-lettered forms, the complex and intangible message is replaced with a simpler one focused on the power and beauty of our alphabetic symbols.
These slab-serif letters can be considered an ode to the western display forms seen in early American wood-type. Each letter was developed in a freeform exercise following the gestural techniques of traditional sign painters, in the medium of brush and 1 Shot Enamel.

Displayed individually or in groupings, passers-by are privy to observe each character outside of a context of conveying a literal message. Here identity is formed through the gestalt of stylist forms joining figurative one-color backgrounds yielding a sans-statement composition. In public viewing, these letters will not judge your lifestyle, ask you for help, nor will they tell you where to be. Simply these symbols exemplify the power and capabilities of our humankind.
Project Deliverable:
Concepting, Hand Lettering, Street Installation, Exhibition Installation
This Project was a Collaborative Effort
DESIGN TEAM: Nick Adam
EXHIBITION: Typeforce 1 | RESIDES: Art Institute of Chicago, Permanent Collection