Contributor Interview: James Uhler

Today we continue our series of interviews with those who made the Graphic Canon possible. Up next is graphic artist James Uhler who used inventive and avant garde typography to adapt Letters to a Young Poet.

1) What inspired you to adapt the piece you did for the Graphic Canon?

I was inspired to adapt Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet because the nature of the piece (a personal dialogue between poet and admirer detailing how to live as a poet) seemed like the most sympathetic piece for me to explore the relationship between (type) designer and reader. An actual, explicit attempt to redirect how to read words and construct a right to left orientated book. Guiding the eye in a book like a filmmaker would adapt a novel; they’d use their tricks of the form (cuts, slow motion, fades, linear vs. nonlinear plot line, etc.) and I’d try and use mine (page breaks at specific Rilke moments, type exploration, size and space hierarchy, etc).

Plus, I’m attempting a design start-up with friends and we needed personal projects for our new portfolio. This seemed personal enough to me (as I love the book) to accurately exhibit my current thoughts on type design.

2) What other projects are you working on at the moment?

I am illustrating cats for a pet-shelter print fundraiser and working on a poster for Nicholas Ray’s seminal Western film Johnny Guitar starring the glorious Joan Crawford. The finished poster will be a give-away for a local Westerns marathon.

Be sure to check out Graphic Canon Vol. III to see his awesome contribution!

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