High Five*

Chris Barrett steps across the pond and takes a look at some of the most exciting work currently coming out of the Big Apple.


After working for three years at M&Co. in NYC, Scott Stowell was whisked off by Tibor Kalman to a palazzo in Rome for a year to art-direct Colours magazine. He loved the experience, but found himself working at a New York pace in a city that demands a more leisurely approach. Back in NYC, Scott established Open in 1988.

Open has worked a diverse range of projects, from a box of stream-of-consciousness Kerouac pencils for the Whitney Museum of American Art, to packaging for Olympic Coke cans, which tell you how to ask for the bathroom in twelve different languages. One of Open’s largest projects to date has been its work on Nick at Nite for Nickelodeon, featuring the illustrations of Chip Wass.

Every piece that comes from the Open studio is based on a strong idea. There is a respect for the viewer and the design works, not just on an aesthetic level, but on an intellectual one as well. This may sound very serious and worthy, but there is an undeniable element of fun that runs through much of the work, such as the periodic table, which attempts to group the collection of Chip’s 106 dingbats.

Scott is a busy man. As well as juggling Open’s many projects, he also art-directs the covers for The Nation, America’s oldest weekly magazine, which covers critical opinion on politics and culture. Scott finds having to work so fast very liberating, because as he puts it, “Like all the clients that we work with, the content is always so rich with possibilities, and it makes our job easier. It's about real things that mean something to people.”

This article originally appeared in Graphics International Issue 77 (September 2000).

*Also included were profiles of James Victore, NickandPaul (now the WAY? Group), Number Seventeen, and Philippe Apeloig.