James Victore

Who Died and Made Victore Boss?

Ballsy new book! “Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?” got presented by its author, famous designer James Victore, at the University of Texas campus a few days ago. School of Visual Arts professor Victore, spoke about his old work, new work, and life, inspiring for young designers and maybe fame-seekers too.

Americans love fame. Starchitects is a new coinage. Startist, well, we maybe havent heard too much of that yet. but we will. From “Dancing with the Stars” to Bravos Work of Art, Season 1, the next “star” actress, singer, or fine artist all want to be famous on reality TV, as if its our birthright. Andy really blew it when he instated the 15-minutes-of-fame maxim. Forgive the rant. But in this vein, as designers go, James Victore is “it.” (The guy has worked with MTV, The New York Times, and won an Emmy. You can click on some 114 links on his website dedicated to stuff hes thought up and wants to sell you.)

Last week he stopped in at the University of Texas (Austin) campus to sign and talk about his new book “Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?” (cover at right.)

Victores got charisma only matched by celebs. He wears wrangler jeans (tight), button-downs, leather vest (tight), big belt buckle and cowboy boots. The “look” perfected by conquistador-style mustache, or shall we Dali? Basically, he looks like a pirate. And, he has taken a life path that Joseph Campbell would refer to as the “left-hand path.”

“Every time Prefontaine ran it was a suicide mission,” says Vicotre; thats what he wants graphic design to be. (He teaches at School for Visual Arts where hes helped form the next gen of graph-ionistas.)

Victore grew up a military brat. Proudly announcing that he wants his new book to be “badass,” and something that you can “kill people with,” he combats the hard “right-hand path” of his youth this way. “VOWDAMYB” could “kill” (so to speak) due its size, if you got knocked over the head with it, and partly due to the proverbial walloping punch it packs.

Calling the book “Darth Vader in lingerie,” Victore points to the abysmal black pages, and electrifying, fluorescent pink accents””formal elements, which make the book a victory out of the starting gate. Paul Sahre, the books designer, nailed it with page spreads as powerful as Victores work.

Beyond Victores obvious successes, including the recent purchase of ten of his pieces for MoMAs permanent collection, he could double as a motivation speaker! Go for what you want, have an opinion! Sure, youll find yourself out of your depth, but thats half the fun””right? Victore says, go for it! Ultimately, its important that young artists fail.

Raw, real, socio-political, opinionated, hybridized art-design is Victores voice. The famous designer isnt interested in “selling socks.”

“Theres always room,” reminds Victore””a statement which becomes increasingly hard to believe given the overwhelming populous and the competition to “be” anything growing more fierce everyday (coupled with an economy in a euphemistic “recession”). Listening to Victore talk proved uplifting, to say the least, “theres always room.”

I appreciate that.

Love, Katy.

PS. Victores next book will be electronic, so as to include moving images. Check out the design he did for Talking Heads David Byrne “Ride, Rise, Roar.”

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