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About the author

John Silver is a graphic artist in the most traditional sense. Specializing in packaging, identity and design for publishing and entertainment, John has brandished 12 years of design experience to solve creative problems for some of the Pacific Northwest's most prominent clientele. Working predominantly under the radar as a packaging designer he has developed outstanding relationships with his clients who, as a result, continually refer work. John has an innate passion for life, a lust for challenge and a strong business sense.

"My vision for John Silver Design is to nurture close relationships with my clients. Success, to me, is when two people can walk away from a collaboration with sweat on their foreheads and dirt on their hands and still look forward to the next challenge with a sense of pride about the last. I work that way with my clients. It's very fulfilling."

Contact John Silver:
Ph: 206 779 3917



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Of Castles and Bedrooms
By John Silver
Design is a problem-solving exploit. It is a certain hijacking of form and a commandeering of function. Careful though. If you can imagine an electrician standing in a puddle of water with a live wire in both hands preparing to splice the two together - you won't be far from the reality of our industry.

An artist wearing a designer's hat does not move in the world of art but rather in the world of commerce. However, a designer must continually draw from the world of art in order to paint an appropriate face on a product, service or event. A successful designer must be able to separate these worlds much like a healthy child must grow to distinguish between the realm of dragons and castles and the world of parents and bedrooms.

The essence of quintessential design lies in the simplicity that derives from the challenges of limited resources. Bamboo, ice and stone are all materials used by their exploiters in extraordinary ways. A single piece of bamboo becomes a matcha chasen, the frame for a dwelling place, a spear or fishing pole and a myriad of other essential tools. Each serves a distinct purpose and there is need for neither frill nor flourish. It is the ultimate exercise in restraint and discipline. Perhaps the greatest testament to strength in simplicity is the test of time.

Graphic design, in its purest form, shows us the way. It warns us to stop or to proceed with caution. It heralds new life and remembers the dead. It promotes interaction and evokes a reaction. Design has elected world leaders and announced the fall of great empires. The Mark itself is harmless enough. But its creator it welds a power often underestimated. The designer can create the image of absolute power. The Roman Eagle, the Hammer and Sickle and the Swastika have all struck fear into the hearts of millions while the White Dove and the Red Cross have long evoked feelings of peace and hope. In its most practical form, good design can sell that proverbial ice cube to the Eskimos. Perhaps the greatest irony of graphic design is that, in and of itself, it is older than the oldest profession on earth. However, the oldest profession on earth is perhaps the only profession that has no need for graphic design.

The chameleon changes its color to blend in with its surroundings. Deception and illusion are utilized every day by countless wild creatures in order to survive. Some puff up menacingly to appear larger than they actually are. Others sway side-to-side to hypnotize would be attackers. While deception is an unethical practice in our industry, illusion can be an accommodating device. In this respect, advertising and design are often closely linked. A designer's function is to create a direct visual interpretation of the facts. A marketing director is sometimes charged with bringing the facts to the designer. In this case, an appropriately designed silhouette of a set of scales drawn to represent a law firm might turn into a full color statue of Lady Justice with the masses at her feet in a matter of minutes. While none of this is inherently wrong, a good designer knows his surroundings. He knows just what shade of red to turn when he finds himself sitting upon that freshly fallen autumn leaf.

Successful design is not unlike a gigantic dam. There is an intense and essential process that must carefully be undertaken in order to slowly and purposefully release the pressure of billions of gallons of water through its heavily-fortified spillways. An all-clear siren sounds, personnel run to their appointed stations, and the progression to open the floodgates slowly begins. So it is with virtually any art, however, a good designer must take this process much more seriously. The "what ifs" and potential production snags are obliged to be worked out before pencil ever meets paper. Once the actual design process begins a designer should let the water flow over the brim uninhibited. Often times the solution to the entire piece stares him in the face once the water has washed downstream.

Design is control. Not so much of the masses but rather of the worst of monsters. The Mastery of Design is ultimately the Control of One's Self.

2004, John Silver
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