The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 12, No. 1

Notes on Design

by Mike Mills

I was always looking for a place between what is normally called the "graphic design world" and what is called "the art world." I wanted to make something that wouldn't be a singular art object, or found in galleries. Instead it would be something easy to own, something that feels more temporary, that invites collaboration, that you live with, something without all the frames and heightened sense of importance associated with "art." At the same time I wanted this work to have the personal themes and personal investment and (contradicting myself, embarrassingly) the importance we associate with art.

Humans is the result; the posters, scarves, ribbons, and fabric patterns included in this issue of Zoetrope: All-Story are part of the four "seasons" I've made so far. Also included are photographs of collaborations: Susan Cianciolo's clothes made with Humans fabrics and Brendan Fowler, aka BARR, wearing a bunch of the fabrics and ribbons while performing. I'm very lucky to have found a supporter in Mr. Takafumi, an interesting guy who loves the band Phish, lives in Tokyo, and finances and oversees the production of all these things. You can see the whole line at

The billboards are from another collaboration: the Undefeated Billboard Project, curated by Aaron Rose. He invites artists to design a billboard located on La Brea Boulevard in Los Angeles, above a shopping area. Over the summer and fall of 2007, I created three billboards, two of which featured camera-trap photos of a mountain lion and a coyote. Not long ago, that section of La Brea was a natural habitat for both these animals. My designs are an attempt to reinsert them, at least in our consciousness, into this place.

Special thanks to Todd Cole, Takashi Homma, and Margaret Manzer for taking such wonderful photos along the way.

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