April Greiman is an influential contemporary American graphic designer. Her innovative ideas and transmedia projects have taken the world by storm. She is considered one of the first designers to embrace computer technology in a different light, who realized its potential as a design tool. She is recognized for introducing the ‘New Wave’ design style in the US. Greiman is the director of a design consultancy, Made in Space, based in Los Angeles.
Greiman is also credited, along with early collaborator Jayme Odgers, with establishing the ‘New Wave’ design style in the US during the late 70s and early 80s.” Her art combines her Swiss design training with West Coast postmodernism.
Greiman first studied graphic design in her undergraduate education at the Kansas City Art Institute, from 1966–1970. She then went on to study at the Allgemeine Künstgewerberschule Basel, now known as the Basel School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung Basel) in Basel, Switzerland (1970–1971). As a student of Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart, she was influenced by the International Style and by Weingart’s introduction to the style later known as New Wave, an aesthetic less reliant on Modernist heritage. Her style includes layering type to make it look like it is floating in space, using geometric shapes, exaggerated letter spacing and eccentric colors. She creates a sense of depth by combining graphic elements with photography, which is how she came to work with Jayme Odgers, utilizing Macintosh technology.
During the 1970s, she rejected the belief among many contemporary designers that computers and digitalization would compromise the International Style; instead, she exploited pixelation and other digitization “errors” as integral parts of digital art, a position she has held throughout her career. Once she established herself in New York and Connecticut, she taught at the Philadelphia College of Art.
In 1982, Greiman became head of the design department at the California Institute of the Arts, also known as Cal Arts. She met photographer-artist Jayme Odgers at Cal Arts, who became a significant influence on Greimen. Together, they designed a famous Cal Arts poster in 1977 that became an icon of the California New Wave.
In 1984, she lobbied successfully to change the department name to Visual Communications, as she felt the term “graphic design” would prove too limiting to future designers. In that year, she also became a student herself and investigated in greater depth the effects of technology on her own work. She then returned to full-time practice and acquired her first Macintosh computer. She would later take the Grand Prize in Mac World’s First Macintosh Masters in Art Competition. April also contributed to the design of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, by creating a memorable poster of running legs silhouetted against a square of bright blue sky.
An early adopter of this computer, Greiman produced an issue of Design Quarterly in 1986, notable in its development of graphic design. Entitled “Does it make sense?”, the edition was edited by Mildred Friedman and published by the Walker Art Center. She re-imagined the magazine as a poster that folded out to almost three-by-six feet. It contained a life-size, MacVision-generated image of her outstretched naked body adorned with symbolic images and text— a provocative gesture, which emphatically countered the objective, rational and masculine tendencies of modernist design.
In 1995, the U.S. Postal Service launched a stamp designed by Greiman to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Women’s Voting Rights).
In 1998 she became an AIGA Medalist. For this story: https://www.aiga.org/medalist-aprilgreiman
In 2007, Greiman completed her largest ever work: a public mural, “Hand Holding a Bowl of Rice,” spanning “seven stories of two building facades marking the entrance to the Wilshire Vermont Metro Station in Los Angeles.”
In 2014, Greiman collaborated with the London based artist-run organisation Auto Italia South East along with a group of designers and artists including Metahaven, in an exhibition POLYMYTH x Miss Information.
Greimen has won many awards, including the Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Chrysler Award for Innovation. She has also published several books, such as April Greiman: Floating Ideas into Space and “Something from Nothing”.Greiman currently teaches at Woodbury University, School of Architecture and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). She is a recipient of the American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal for lifetime achievement. She has received 4 honorary doctorates: Kansas City Art Institute (2001); Lesley University, The Art Institute of Boston (2002); Academy of Art University (2003,) Art Center College of Design (2012.) April Greiman is seen as one of the “ultimate risktakers” for her unorthodox and progressive approach to design by embracing new technologies.
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