2FACED: SWEAT Design Workshop

In the summer of 2014, a group of designers took part in SWEAT, an experimental collaborative design workshop hosted in the Midwest. All aspects of the topic are undecided until the workshop begins except for theme. This years theme was, how do you as graphic designers respond to bully culture?

SWEAT is an independently organized, experimental graphic design workshop.
 
Held only in the summer season of the Midwest since 2007, this program is 8 years strong and running.
 
The format for SWEAT changes with each successive iteration. Locations, collaborators, and output are each tied to a unique SWEAT experience. The only piece of content prescribed to each group is thematic.
 
The intention of SWEAT is not to focus on outcomes, but rather to focus on discovery, collaboration, and a state of play. Designers come from all backgrounds and skill levels, each treated equally.
 
Our Format
 
Location: Letterpress Studio
Time frame: 5 days, Monday—Friday, 10AM-?
Participants: 17 designers compiled of students, recent graduates, and working designers selected from online application.
Theme: Respond to Bully Culture.
 
Day one, our group assembled and received via group text message our surprise theme. How does graphic design respond to bully culture?
 
Our group discussed many avenues of approach to the topic, and ultimately decided that Bully culture is something each of us had experienced, and from both sides of the fence. The act of stratifying another person to obtain a sense of place is common in school yards and throughout childhood as children slowly mature into emotionally responsible adults. Yet, where does this culture dissipate? If bully culture stems from the aggressive tendency to charge another person's experience in order to pay oneself with emotional or psychological stability, can it be said this experience stops on the school yard?
 
Had any of us truly been innocent?
 
We shared experiences that startled us as personal stories brought up complex feelings decades after events had transpired and apparently still lay somewhere inside us well into adulthood. This discovery process became much of the SWEAT experience. Through this method, we realized that each of us had been on the bully, and bullied side of the fence. As such, we responded to the 2faced nature of bully culture, and the way in which it feeds itself by creating at times both victim and victimizer. Recognizing the important role that bully culture has in the lives of many children today, we decided to focus on personal stories and experiences and hope that if by no other means the act of creating these works would identify to others who had gone through hard times and as evidenced by our making had more than survived.
 
Below are a few experimental spreads I made for the project, as well as a few interior pages showing a bit of the small studio space where we all crammed in elbow to elbow. I focused on trying new things, working in areas I was unsure of or not the best at, and trying to embrace these weaknesses or perhaps discover hidden strengths. Because I was drawn to the book layout, I spent a lot of time in digital space and as such much of the work reflected that avenue. I did manage to experiment quite a bit with letter press but editorially I used those pieces as abstract elements within the book rather than project spreads.
 
 
 
At the young age of 11, a neighborhood teen bully held me down and hit the top of my head with a metal pipe repeatedly for over fifteen minutes while my friends stood by helplessly. Any time I tried to raise my hands to hold the impact site, he would hit me again until I completely gave in to his need for dominance. I felt like this melon. I also felt this was an apt visual description of what bullying does to a person.
How could I visualize the consistent impact of prolonged psychological attack?
At times, emotional issues are so powerful and impact so deeply that the subconscious mind cannot process it.
 
Does bully culture end on the playground? Or does it carry over into power structures throughout society?
The sensless, thoughtless destruction of an identity, a person's self-esteem, is like putting out a light forever. This piece reflected a meditation I was processing about the sublime simplicity, an almost zenlike moment, during which cruelty occurs. The act itself stems from weakness, and destroys something beautiful.
The destruction of another through technologial mediums intended for social interaction. In reality, the devices simply become megaphones amplifying their inputs.
 
Were there still an ability to escape the playground, many would. In a fantasy world, a higher order, something far more sublime as to be considered incomprehensible to humans could theoretically break this experience, to force interruption in moments of illogical cruelty.
 
 
In researching stories of cyber bullying, I was shattered by the death of children. Three stories impacted me greatly. One involved a child standing up from a computer in the kitchen, going upstairs, and hanging herself. Her mother, who had been in the kitchen, found her moments later. The child was told "the world would be so much better off if you weren't in it." by classmates bullying her online. These pieces were created from a place of illogical logic. If there were the ability to uncode the nature of matter and rework it to a better form as weighed against time, I would reprogram the instances I read about and bring these children back.
Contribution
 
Once we agreed that building a book would be an acceptable output for such a varied grouping of works, Each member was assigned a different task. Some received logo design, others received paper sourcing, and so on.
 
My contribution to the book came in the form of book design as well as individual works. I thought, isn't there a way to actually make the book duplicitous? To split it into two halves, sharing experiences that were dark, or moments of affirmation that were light?I spent many hours laying out the book pages, and in collaboration with organizer Jenn Stucker, determining a rhythmic flow between pieces, editing content, finalizing the overall format, and trouble shooting printing issues.
 
The end result of our SWEAT is 2faced, a two-sided book that can be flipped and read both ways, color coded for two separate meanings, containing the works of 17 different designer's playful experiments, inner thoughts, goofs, encoded messages and confessions.
 
The reward for this kind of work is measured in friendships and memories, but having a cool book doesn't hurt either.
 
2FACED has won a SILVER ADDY AWARD and has also been featured in the gallery show Object and Graphic Design Exhibit at ArtSpace/Lima.
 
Thanks for looking! Keep playing.
 
Think you'd like to SWEAT?
 
SWEAT CONTRIBUTORS
 
Emily Beavers
Lindsy Buser
Amy Fidler
Ethan Fidler
Trent Gineman
Elise Graham
Chris Hatfield
Lila Marty
Zach Minnich
Tyler Oberhouse
Maureen Newman
Taylor Rupert
Tess Segura
Brandon Stammen
Abby Stucker
Jenn Stucker
Kallie Stuckey

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