To have this type of experience with friends and colleagues is a critical component of contemporary design education. In 2012, David Grey, the Chair of the Graphic Design Department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, organized and lead a 23 day contemplative travel adventure and mindfulness retreat through the Mexican landscapes of Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula. With him were six of his strongest graphic design students. Known as Hexagano, these students came from Mexico to study in the US and for two years they warmly embraced the principles of contemplative design. As a result, they were now given the opportunity go back to Mexico with their professor and their expanded perspective and travel through indigenous regions where they've never been. Their intention was to explore a foreign space with the eyes of a contemplative graphic designer and allow this wakefulness and curiosity to fuel a series of graphic design and contemplative art exercises. As a tribe of nomadic designers, they would explore and watch and participate and appreciate. Afterward, they would return to the University and design a contemplative, expressive, design-based, image-making book, called The Importance Of... as a visual response to the entire experience and in essence create a vehicle to share the perspective and fruition of a contemplative graphic designer.
The Importance Of… is a 200 page hard bound book (18cm x 26cm, slip cover over embossed fabric cover) designed and experienced by Hexagono: Rebecca Alvarez, Pablo Byrne, Suzelle Camou, Marco Lukini, & Ana Villa. The project was conceived and produced by David Grey. The book will be co-published and distributed by Radius Books and Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Although the first portion of this project (the educational travel adventure) was graciously funded by the University, we are now ready to raise the funds needed to print this beautiful artist book in Verona Italy in an edition of 1500. We need to raise $25,000 to fully complete this project. If we exceed our funding goal, we will certainly consider printing 2000 copies.
By supporting the production of this book, you are doing much more than you might imagine. Yes, you are helping a group of young designers produce their very first “visual album”. And, yes, you are making it possible to share 300 copies of this book, for free, to various libraries around the country (this is part of Radius Books generous non-profit model). But most importantly, you are supporting the fruition of a design education based on mindfulness; an education that explores graphic design as a tool to help develop purer perception and wakefulness. So please help us by purchasing a copy of this book in advance or by offering any amount of money you deem beneficial.
All we need is your support. The book’s design is complete and our intention is to print the beautiful object during March, placing the books in our hands by the end of April and hopefully in yours by the end of May.
Now, you may be wondering, what am I actually supporting?
What is “Graphic Design as Contemplative Art”?
Below is an excerpt from the book’s introduction essay, written by David Grey. For those interested, we hope this will offer a bit of insight. After the excerpt, you will find a link to a wonderfully uplifted extended version of the travel video sharing a few scenes from the many days that provided inspiration for this project. After the link, you will find a few images of both the postcards and posters that we have produced as gifts for those who donate in various increased amounts. We hope you will appreciate these additional offerings.
And now, here’s a bit from the book’s introduction essay explaining what it means to approach Graphic Design as Contemplative Art….
“...The sensibility of a mystic is nurtured by exploring graphic design as contemplative art. This practice expands space and provides support for designers to genuinely see the external phenomenal world and its interconnectedness to our thoughts and agendas, our hopes and fears. We break down boundaries of language and culture by connecting one’s primordial wisdom to the essence of design elements and principles, and by doing so, we are able to recognize that the manifestation of one’s creative path is the direct reflection of the mind’s view. Graphic design becomes much more than just an application of visual communication. It becomes a way of seeing. It becomes a way of appreciating. It becomes a way of being. Because of this, we can use the practice of graphic design as a method to develop purer perception. It can help wake us up. Design students observe this unfolding experience while visually and conceptually connecting and separating everything from distilled ideas to extended narratives. By regularly revisiting the question, “What is the criteria for critique?” my students are asked to look closely at how their internal storylines interweave with those of our ever-changing society. These storylines grow in richness and clarity when appreciating the prism of our environment, the wisdom of localized culture, and the energy of a connected community. By taking the time to look inward before projecting outward, students are able to develop a sense of awareness that transforms the conceptual design process into an exploration of freedom.
This is nothing new. It could be considered by some as a return to the spirituality of the Bauhaus or the wakefulness of Black Mountain…. As pedagogical support, students are introduced to breathing meditation. By following one’s breath and observing one’s thoughts, a person begins to settle the mind and synchronize body. Through this practice of mindfulness, one is able to profoundly connect with the spaciousness of intuition and the pointedness of intellect. Discerning awareness and skillful means work in harmony, bringing about a sense of joy while cultivating a sense of taste. When exploring this in the studio, students begin to feel the effects of a settled group creative consciousness. Contemplation, gestation, and creation occur with a greater sense of ease. Community begins to magnetize….”
Please take some time and enjoy the extended adventure video by clicking the link below:
For those of you who can support by offering more than the cost of a single book, we also have postcards and posters available for you. To the right, you will be able to review the various opportunities to receive some of these items. Below are images, to wet your appetite, of the postcards and limited edition posters.
Thank you very much for your consideration and support.
We look forward to sharing the book with you soon.