Charles Spencer Anderson, ’81
That retro, semi-nostalgic/ironic flavor widely seen in print products and pop culture over the last few decades has been fueled in part by the influence of Charles Spencer Anderson.Faced with an entrenched minimalist trend in graphic design, he realized that a "cultural vocabulary" was being ignored - the world of older mass products and humbler printing techniques. So he looked to the past, and created many possible futures.
Established in 1989, Anderson's studio calls itself a "continuous evolution inspired by the high and lows of art and popular culture." It draws upon old-timey clip art, cute product mascots, and woodblock type fonts to shape a fresh, human-oriented design. The results are everywhere - as in the logos of Paramount Pictures and Turner Classic Movies, or on Fossil brand watch faces , or the packages of everything from beer and soap to toys and cologne.
An early client relationship, now Anderson's longest-standing, was with the French Paper Company. Because French Paper needed to demonstrate its stocks to other designers, and because Anderson created models of design for these portfolios, hundreds of other designers saw these fresh examples. As digital tools became the standard for design of all kinds, Anderson wisely expanded into professional archive collections of typefaces, illustrations, and printing "dingbats" that designers could buy and use.
For this influential work, Anderson and his Minneapolis studio have been honored often and globally. Repeat awards have come from advertising's The One Show and the New York Art Directors Club, and his work has made repeat appearances ain the Design Triennial of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Clients such as Target, Nissan, Ralph Lauren, Urban Outfitters, and Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines all seem to agree on one thing - that what we thought was "past" can still be "present," if remixed just right.