There’s an insidious monster whispering in the ears of amateur illustrators and designers, haunting Twitter feeds and blogs and tumblrs across the web. It isn’t an art movement or anything, it’s an internet trend. I have come to refer to it in my head as Stunt Design.
Stunt Design, n. The phenomenon of designers & illustrators creating gimmicky graphics purely in the hopes of ‘going viral’ on pop culture/arts blogs.
Stunt Design is combining pop culture things with a seemingly incompatible design style. Or maybe just mixing up two pop culture things for the hell of it. The surface-y statement of purpose is usually something nebulous and meaningless like “juxtaposition” or “reimagining.” But if you scratch at the label with your fingernail, you find there’s not much underneath it. I think that the real goal is to create something that will appeal to the insatiable appetites of design and pop culture blogs, leading to exposure, name recognition, ad revenue, and/or selling digital prints.
Movie posters redone with minimalist design. Re-imagined hip-hop album covers. Swiss Modern design mixed with punk flyers. No context, no meaning, just juxtaposition for juxtaposition’s sake. Like a bad mashup based off of song title puns instead of something musical. Stunt design is empty decoration. And its proliferation begs the question: Why the fuck are these people making this stuff for public consumption? Feedback? Acknowledgement? Portfolio padding? Boredom coupled with an incredible amount of free time? Simply expressing a love for something? Painfully excruciatingly pointless design exercises? Some of these reasons are completely valid. Some of the work I’ve seen has technical merit. But the cynic in me sees the majority of this work and can’t help but think: Capitalism. Self-promotion. Website hits. Hunger to go viral. A desire to make a buck off of any and every goddamned franchise they can smash together.
And that hunger is fed by the enablers: The blogging community. There are countless design and general pop culture sites out there, and they all demand a constant flow of fresh design-related content to feed to their readers. They’re less concerned with the quality of the work being presented than they are with the general relevance of the content. And once a handful of these blogs start disseminating the work, it spreads quickly. From a purely marketing point of view, I’m impressed with the phenomenon. It’s a supply-and-demand situation that benefits the creators and the disseminators. It benefits everyone except the readers, of course, whose mental bar of what is good or interesting is continuously pushed lower. It’s crap in, crap out, because every day is a new day, and every new day needs new crap.
And that’s why I’m pleased to announce a new project I’m really excited about. A poster series mixing two of my greatest passions: the bold imagery of Russian Constructivism and classic retro 80’s television!
Check back for more! I’m available for freelance! 11″x17″ prints available soon (digital, of course! They’re so easy and disposable!). Please click on my banner advertising! Oh, man, do you think I should register a domain name? Ohhh! www.rodchenkoincharge.com is available!