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Art + Design

College of Arts and Humanities

Assistant Professor Justin Beckman

 

Justin Beckman

Assistant Professor 
Justin Beckman

Graphic Design
beckman@cwu.edu
 

Graphic designers can persuade you to buy a product you never knew you needed. They influence elections, call others to action and inspire change. They can make or break the way you interface with websites, apps or the gauges in your car. They sway people’s opinions and choices every second of every day, and their work surrounds us everywhere we look. Designers have the power to save the world. Or destroy it.

Few careers offer such a diverse range of opportunity. Marketing for sneakers, sugar water, and freightliners full of candy at one end of the scale. Non-profit community organizations and people-powered revolutions at the other. I won't deny my fondness for candy and trendy sneakers, but my passions have always pushed me toward using my powers for good, creating work that supports my local community, or contributes to the economic and cultural vitality of rural communities across the region.

Like many creatives, I often find myself debating the question of whether design can be art and often find the work I do exists somewhere in between. If design in the commercial sense is a very calculated and defined process, with specific steps taken to a specific end, I often explore what happens when the client, product, or specific message is removed. What happens when the designer becomes the final step in the production line, allowing the work to be open to interpretation, posing more than one question, and providing more than one answer? The purpose of design is often to sell a product, if you remove the product, then design has the opportunity to shine as its own object – opening the door to creative entrepreneurship with the art of design as commodity in and of itself.

I love pixels, presses and halftone dots. I love the smell of freshly printed ink on a well-made paper. I love a solidly structured grid as well as one that’s been shattered. I love hierarchy and a typeface I’ve never seen before. I love the curve of a hand drawn letter. I’m not afraid to use black ink on black paper, and won’t shy away from a spot varnish here and there. I love minimalism and maximalism. Design is a means to solving problems and providing solutions, but it should also inspire. It should ignite the spirit and stretch the imagination. Design does not live in an aesthetic vacuum. It’s in constant conversation with art, music and film, as well as food, fashion and architecture. This symbiotic relationship is what makes design such a thrill for me, and it’s what pushes me to always seek the sweet spot between art, design and life.

 

Justin joined the CWU faculty in 2018.

 

 

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