Speak up when you say goodbye


Armin Vit & Bryony Gomez-Palacio are closing their incredible blog/discussion forum Speak Up. Between Armin’s and Bryony’s farewells, and the long discussion threads that accompany them, I am not sure what else there is to say. It was the best place for facilitating and provoking graphic design discourse since Emigre magazine, and was in play years before Design Observer. [is it odd that all three of these examples are founded in whole or in part by 2 married designers? I think so!] In terms of a fully open discussion, it surpassed both. It was a landmark, and its time is passing. It will be missed.

The good news:
1) They’re keeping open Brand New, which has an always-lively discussion — it’s where I’ve directed people to see the range of opinion on the Tropicana rebrand takeback debate — and to read Paula Scher’s critical assertion that no matter what you think of Arnell’s design, the decision to take back a redesign sets a bad precedent. It also had the year’s best April Fools.

2)  They’ll keep the full archives open, with closed comments, as a set of documents for the future. In compiling the collected letters of DesignMaven 2002-2009, this will be crucial. Oh I joke now but I know that I will find my way back to these in the coming years.

3) My Marian Bantjes’ “bitchin” Speak Up shirt gets to go into a frame now. This was the first I’d heard of her, in Speak Up, and now look she’s my favorite. It looks like the picture at the top, but the ink is metallic silver.

4) Unlike some projects which fade away (looking at you, typographi-4 posts in the last year-.ca/.com/ca.org) or reach their end unaware that it’s the end (e.g. the final issues of Craft and Domino and pretty much most magazines) it is ending on its own terms: that is to say, characteristically with a set of mini-essays and discussions.

In this way, it makes me think of Dan Rolleri & Martin Venezky’s Speak Magazine (1996 – 2001), with which it almost shares a name. This magazine was without peer in its day — discursive content much like The Believer + with incredibly cutting edge design. I gave my smarter older brother a reader of selected photocopied articles from it back one unemployed Christmas. Like Emigre would in 2005, Speak knew its final issue would be the last. Issue 21 was a round-table retrospective of the staff, one imagines over a few beers, on the long road of the magazine. Though this accounts for nearly the entire issue, I still look back on it as the most important of all and not just for its closure. It’s available to read online: I’d recommend it to anyone who is working on, or considering starting, a magazine.

The last issue’s cover, which I submit as fitting for Speak Up as well, featured a book of matches in an ashtray — and down by the barcode:


Armin + Bryony: display until forever. And thanks.

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