Photography by Erik Brandt
September 06 2015
For nearly two years, one of the most exciting exhibitions of international poster design has been taking place on a quiet residential street in Minnesota. Since the project began, designer Erik Brandt has curated, printed, and wheat-pasted over 1000 posters from typographers and graphic designers ranging from the iconic to the iconoclastic.
The exhibition space is a 72″ x 36″ panel on the exterior wall of Brandt’s garage, strategically placed in the eye line of oncoming traffic of the commuter and dog walking variety. It is through the power of mutual enthusiasm that the wall has become an autonomous zone of experimentation and expression for designers and artists seeking a respite from their daily work. We caught up with Brandt this week to chat about the project on the occasion of his 1000th poster.
What is the origin of the Ficciones Typografika project?
The project started on June 16, 2013 and was originally intended as an experimental environment for a sabbatical I had planned. While building the board itself, it immediately became clear to me that it would be much more exciting to include others in the work and I saw it as a logical and much more exciting successor to a blog I used to run, Geotypografika. The name itself translates to typographic fictions, ‘Ficciones’ is a reference to Jorge Luis Borges and Typografika is my studio name.
Do you have particular posters or moments that are memorable?
The most rewarding part of this has been the participation of people from all around the world, so it’s really hard to pick out single contributions. It is very humbling and completely satisfying to interact with the contributors. As an activity in itself it’s also very pure. making the wheatpaste, cutting down the posters, slinging the brush. I think the most memorable moments were in the first deep winter. Watching piping hot wheatpaste freeze right off the brush was disconcerting to say the least. Figuring out how to add just a splash of windshield wiper fluid to the mix was really critical to keeping the project going over the many months of cold we endure here.
Another aspect is the ever changing light, I have to hang at different times of day due to work, but the seasons also require adjustments to optimal times. We have some very short daylight windows in winter here. Still, I love how this subtle change is captured with each posting. Hanging in the snow is the best though, quite magical and quiet. A perfect moment.
What is the reaction of your neighbors and town?
The project has changed the way people walk their dogs, ride their commutes. It has been without a doubt the best part of the project for me, the warmth and genuine excitement of people in our multi-cultural community has been endlessly rewarding. I really treasure these conversations with strangers that, as they sometimes say, finally catch me hanging a poster and invariably stop by to talk. I’ve had construction workers screech to a halt in a truck and get out screaming, “I am dying to know, what the fuck is this awesome project?” Most are surprised by the international scope of the project, many assume it is just me making these. I am very happy to point out that is not true.
Any surprises as a result of the project?
I think the most satisfying surprise was discovering that I would have to take down the posters from time to time. This led to the decollage projects that have become so dear to me. It reveals the skin that forms from so many contributions, unintended interactions that create beauty.
Plans for the future?
I hope to publish a book on the project and I also intend to release newsprint versions of every single contribution that people might assemble themselves, somewhere else.