On a recent visit to the AIGA National Design Center, I had the chance to explore Estrada: Sailing through Design, a special exhibition featuring sketchbooks (or "visual diaries"), book covers, and iconography by the great Spanish graphic designer Manuel Estrada.
Visitors are welcome to flip through Estrada’s personal sketchbooks, full of beautiful images that offer a glimpse into his creative process. You can see his designs developing from initial ideas through to their completed state; for example, a wall lined with Estrada-designed book covers includes gorgeous Spanish editions of books by Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud, Schopenhauer, and Raymond Chandler, among others. The exhibition also walks us through Spanish culture in a way. Through his work, we meet some of the writers, institutions and events at the heart of contemporary Spanish life.
As a student and aspiring artist myself, I love this window into an artist’s process. Visual diaries reveal not just an idea’s development; they also serve as records of a certain time in one’s life. . . Having an identical twin sister with whom I am very close, I personally began keeping visual diaries as a way to share my experiences with my second half. When our parents decided it was best for us to be apart to develop our own identities, I went to a boarding school in the Austrian mountains while my sister explored Britain's countryside. With our sketchbooks, which we regularly sent to one another, we kept track of the other’s life. To this day, whenever we are apart, we continue this habit; I even like to incorporate various flight, cinema, and museum tickets, recipes, photos, etc. to my drawings.
Being slightly obsessed with sketchbooks as I am, I felt, after this exhibition, inspired and motivated to start yet again a new sketchbook, to go through my old ones, and to possibly even begin considering them as art works on their own.
Estrada: Sailing through Design is on view at NY’s AIGA Design Center thru October 11th.
***Melanie Hausberger (pictured below with her sister Stephanie, in a photo by Ambra) is our summer 2013 intern, and a fine arts major at the School of Visual Arts.