April Greinman

April Greiman (born 1948) is a contemporary designer. “Recognized as one of the first designers to embrace computer technology as a design tool, 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.”

Presently, she heads Los Angeles-based design consultancy Made in Space. “An insistent innovator, April Greiman works at the border zone of the discipline labeled graphic design, at the intersections of video, computer graphics, architecture and environment. She’s interested in altering our perceptions of the relationship between two- and three-dimensional space. On the printed page she removes all the coordinates that are normally used to locate the viewer and instead launches the viewer headlong into deep space and saturated color. With buildings, she renders solid walls diaphanous through her application of video imagery in oil paint.”

Greiman first studied graphic design in her undergraduate education at the Kansas City Art Institute, from 1966-1970. Her work further evolved from her 1970-1971 graduate education at the Allgemeine Künstgewerberschule Basel, now known as the Basel School of Design (Schule für Gestaltung Basel) in Basel, Switzerland. As a student of Armin Hofmann andWolfgang Weingart, Greiman was not only influenced by the International Style, but also by Weingart’s introduction to the style later to become known as New Wave, an aesthetic less reliant on the Modernist heritage. “The Basel school’s faculty and graduates began to come to the U.S. in the mid 1960s, with a real impact realized in the early 1970s when young American graphic designers ‘in the know’ began to migrate to Basel for postgraduate training in graphic design. By the mid 1970s some of this complexity began to embellish basic American “Swiss” graphic design in the form of bars and rules and playful mixing of type sizes, weights and faces in an essentially formalist agenda.”

Greiman moved to Los Angeles in 1976, establishing the multi-disciplinary practice which has survived to this day in its current incarnation and name as Made in Space. Proceeding the mid-80s, designers avidly avoided computers and digitalization, viewing them as challenges to the crispness of the International Style. However, Greiman did not feel that this should be a limitation; rather, she exploited pixelation and other “errors” in digitization as part of digital art.

She has long taught, and continues to do so to this day – currently, at the Academy of Art University, Woodbury University, and The Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc). In 1982 April Greiman became head of the design department at the California Institute of the Arts.”In 1984 she lobbied successfully to change the department name to Visual Communications, feeling that the term “graphic design” would prove too limiting to future designers. In that year, with her business booming, she decided to switch gears and become a student rather than an educator, to study the effect of technology on her own work. She returned to full-time practice and acquired her first Macintosh.” She was later to take the Grand Prize in Mac World’s First Macintosh Masters in Art Competition.

“An early adopter of the Macintosh computer, in 1986 Greiman used its rudimentary capabilities to create an issue of the journal Design Quarterly that has since become one of the key staging posts in the evolution of graphic design.” This notable issue, entitled Does it make sense? 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. Ever since, Greiman has continued to pioneer new technologies and to challenge prevailing attitudes toward graphic design. One of her most recent laboratories for experimentation is Miracle Manor, a desert spa retreat that she co-owns with (her husband) architect Michael Rotondi, and which amply showcases her talent for applying texture, color and materials to 3-dimensional space as well as her sensitivity to a building’s potential to resonate with its natural landscape.”[2]

In 1995, the U.S. Postage Service launched a stamp designed by Greiman to commemorate the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (Women’s Voting Rights).[6] In 2006, the Pasadena Museum of California Art mounted a one-woman show of her digital photography entitled: Drive-by Shooting (www.drive-byshooting.com). She was also recently in the group show at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, in a major exhibition ‘Elle@Centre Pompidou. That exhibition was self-promoted as one, where “for the first time in the world, a museum will be displaying the feminine side of its own collections. In 2007, Greiman completed her largest single work to date: a public art mural, Hand Holding a Bowl of Rice, that spans 7 stories of two building facades marking the entrance to the Wilshire Vermont Metro Station in Los Angeles.”

April is a recipient of the American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal for lifetime achievement. She has received 3 honorary doctorates: Kansas City Art Institute (2001); Lesley University, The Art Institute of Boston (2002); Academy of Art University (2003).




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