The latest Design Lecture Xperience Series (DLXS) brought influential designer Charles S. Anderson to campus to speak with students about his company CSA Design, as well as the longtime partnership he’s shared with independent paper manufacturer French Paper.
Anderson’s work is steeped in 50s and 60s pop culture, and it’s easy to spot one of his pieces. Imagine the flip side of what you’d see in the series Mad Men, and you’ll start to have a good idea of the company’s signature style. He admitted to having over 100,000 pieces of retro pop art in his collection – old toys, ornaments, and decorations, which the company has photographed and illustrated to create many of their designs.
A few examples of their work include the logo for Turner Classic Movies, icons used on the cover of the book Fast Food Nation, Halloween product packaging for Target, as well as their own line of innovative pop art items. Speaking about their aesthetic, he said, “I think a better description of what we do is create art for commerce. We believe that design is about making something great that adds richness to people’s lives.”
It takes a certain kind of artist to develop a signature style, and Anderson spoke about the development of his brand, and the importance of creating close relationships with clients who understand your point of view. His biggest creative partnership has been with French Paper, who he’s worked with for over 25 years. French Paper president Jerry French was also in attendance at the lecture, and Anderson talked about how their relationship has inspired innovation for both companies.
A question and answer session followed the presentation, during which students asked Anderson about the challenges in attracting new clients, his thoughts on the balance between art and marketing, and advice for young artists, to which he said, “originality is always needed in our industry.”