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HAPPENINGText: Mark Buswell

Sputnik is California College of the Arts’ student graphic design group. Originally established by Bob Aufuldish in the fall of 1995, the goal of Sputnik is to give a select group of graphic design students real-world experience. Over the years Sputnik has been directed by Graphic Design faculty Bob Aufuldish , Eric Heiman (who was one of the two original students), and Doug Akagi. The number of students has ranged from as few as two to as many as twelve. For a brief period, Stella Lai headed up a separate web-based division of Sputnik called Laika which created the current CCA site.

Being a former member of Sputnik myself, and knowing the quality of work that the group is known for, I was excited to see their third-ever exhibition. On display are a collection of pieces designed over the past 10 years by members of Sputnik while in the program, as well as in their professional careers, post-graduation. These included posters, invitations, announcements, t-shirts, identity systems, greeting cards, booklets, and illustration. Some of the work I’d seen as a student while attending CCA but what was most interesting were the more recent pieces. Sputnik’s new work indicated to me that the group was continuing to evolve and push the limits of design and redefine what a piece of communication can be. As a collection of work, Orbit is not only an exhibition. It is a historical record of the college, a statement of where it is now, and an indicator of its continued success in the future.

Each semester Sputnik creates approximately 70-80 design pieces exclusively for the college and its audience consisting of current students, alumni, prospective students, high school and middle school students, donors and trustees, people interested in the Extended Education program and the CCA Wattis Institute. There is no uniform visual vocabulary or identity manual, although with the college’s recent name change (from California College of Arts and Crafts to California College of the Arts), came a logo designed by Mark Fox that now appears on every piece that Sputnik creates.

There are former Sputnik members flourishing all over: Alex DeArmond at the Walker Arts Center, Bill Bowers and Molly Skonieczny at Tolleson Design, Lia Tjandra at SFMOMA, Jon Sueda of Public Display of Affection/CalArts, and many others.

Special thanks to Bob Aufuldish and Eric Heiman for providing historical detail.

ORBIT: CCA Sputnik Graphic Design Exhibition 2005
Date: January 17th – January 25th, 2005
Place: California College of the Arts
Address: 1111 8th St., San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: +1 415 703 9500

Text: Mark Buswell
Photos: Mark Buswell

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