Longtime BFA Advertising and Graphic Design Department faculty member James Victore is rarely apt to be found standing still. Whether he’s teaching students to apply graphic design to the New York City landscape in his Urban Design course, creating award-winning posters for the College, designing furniture, or making original artwork for clients ranging from The New York Times to Amnesty international, Victore is always moving forward. (Click here to watch a short film about Victore, by Hillman Curtis)
What is the new book for Abrams?
I just signed the contract a month ago. [Fellow faculty member] Paul Sahre is designing it, and Michael Beirut is writing a foreword for it. I’ve started sitting down every morning and going through the horribly brutal process of trying to write. I have found that with most of my work, there are stories behind them. For example, I just fished writing about a project I did for Mother Jones a number of years ago. They gave me a full page to make any kind of protest poster I wanted to. I chose the issue of gun control. The poster was an old-style shooting range target in the shape of a turkey, and another set of targets that were little girls. It was the March/April issue from 1999 I think. The month the magazine came out was the Columbine shooting, a couple of months after I finished it. So I’m writing these stories, more anecdotal than descriptions. Hopefully it’ll be a good read instead of just a picture book.
Tell me about the Esquire project.
They called a couple of months ago and said what all clients say: we have a perfect project for you. It involved me writing out the 1st few lines of Stephen King’s new story for the cover of their magazine. I’m going to draw this typography on the body of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Bar Rafaeli. She wore a white bikini, and by the end she was completely covered with my typography. We did a shot for the cover with relatively clean typography on her body, then more images of her and me smearing the typography. It was really marvelous. I think everybody in the room felt like there was something going on. It felt like I was in a Peter Sellars movie from the 70s.
How do you get new commissions like this, and how do they fit into your practice?
I wish I could tell you how. I work real hard at finding clients, smart intelligent people who have the money to work with me. And then things come like a brick at the back of my head. I just did a lecture for the AIGA and I titled it as a ‘How To.’ But we don’t know how to. I don’t know how to, you’re never totally in control, and that’s the good news.
Image: Esquire, July 2009 cover.