It wouldn’t be Spring in New York City without the release of a new SVA subway poster. For this season’s edition, MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department faculty member Viktor Koen created 26 illustrations that offer a typographic look at the alphabet. The letters are comprised of art-making utensils from Koen’s collection (many from boxes that hadn’t been opened in decades), tools on loan from MFA Illustration students, and images from secret photo shoots at art supply stores.
Two versions of the posters are on display—one featuring the entire alphabet and the other spelling out The ABCs of SVA: Art, Business, Culture. “There is no better way to get across SVA’s three common themes—Art (which includes design), Business (which includes entrepreneurship) and Culture (which is the entire ball of wax)—than through Koen’s abecedarian,” says MFA Design Co-chair Steven Heller, who served as the project’s Art Director.
SVA has been producing the posters biannually for the past 65 years. Intended as an advertising and recruitment vehicle for the College (in fact, it was one of these posters that led Koen to SVA years ago), they are displayed throughout New York City’s subway system. Collectively, the posters present a glimpse of the College’s history and the array of its innovation and talent.
Having come full circle with the posters—from pre-College viewer to creator—Koen says he’s happy with the outcome. “After seeing them everywhere—yes, I get excited every time, especially when catching people scrutinizing them up close—I got to appreciate their cleanliness, compared to the underground environment where they live,” he says. “Contrary to the graphic language that dominates the stations, they provide a break with their quiet complexity and brightness.” But there is also a subtext within the work that Koen likes to point out: “Change your life by making art part of your vocabulary, one letter at a time.”
To purchase a poster, visit CAVA; watch a video for the poster below.
Poster credits: Design and Illustration: Viktor Koen; Art Direction: Steven Heller; Creative Director: Anthony P. Rhodes; Director of Design and Digital Media: Michael J. Walsh; Publisher: Visual Arts Press, Ltd.; Printer: Seaward Corporation.