The heroic designer James Victore didn’t arrive talking like I expected. He had a serious motorbike accident recently and the resulting chronic pain and pain management has changed his life. He and his family left New York for the support of his parents in Idaho. An eloquent man, he told us he doesn’t get as much design work anymore because since leaving New York the industry thinks he’s now retired or is too expensive so instead he’s mostly doing teaching and life coaching now. He said he used to be fearless. Now he’s a fearful person and said that makes him a better person and a better teacher.
It’s interesting that he described his former self as fearless because that’s what comes across in his body of messy, anarchic, deeply principled poster design. You might already be familiar with his Racism poster where the word is scribbled so aggressively that it takes on a life of its own to become a roaring, fanged snarl, eating itself. He used the same style to create HIV/AIDS posters featuring procreating animals. They’re super simple but it’s his ease with punky handlettering and illustration that gives these works their spirit. I love his Moet et Chandon poster. The shakey linework really made it.
James’ modus operandi seems to be – come up with a devastatingly clever idea, then take out the crudest of tools and scribble it in seconds like it was no big thing. In a funny way this gives his work more sophistication than if he’d hired the finest illustrators. There’s a power in wearing your gifts lightly.
His education programme is under the motto and philosophy “Feck Perfuction” which probably has different connotations here in Ireland than it does in America. Words to live by though.
He says “Designers are too concerned with the idea of ‘perfection’.”
“Perfection is the death of creativity. Perfection lacks spontaneity and surprise, instead it assumes ‘knowing’ and certainty. Creativity is about being OPEN and curious but perfection is closed tight in its search for an answer. ONE ‘right’ answer—but creativity is not math. Perfection also assumes that you are smarter than your audience because you know the ‘right way’ and the ‘rules’. But this attitude leaves no room for your audience to be involved in your process. Creativity, like a good joke, slowly pieces together in your audience’s brain until it explodes with A-HA!”
“Perfection stops you from starting projects or even relationships because you are not ready or perfect. And it stops you from finishing or shipping projects because they are not ready or perfect. The weather, the economy, the atmosphere will never be perfect, your timing will never be right, you will never be perfect. But you know what’s better than perfect? Done. Done is better than prefect.”
Exploding your audience’s brain with ‘A-Ha’… that’ll do.