In thinking about those projects we envy, we recognize that it is the people we know—our municipal contemporaries—that most directly inspire our work, and sometimes make us grind our teeth with jealousy. So for our week here, we decided to shop local, and set some nepotistic limitations to our choices: only people in the Bay Area and only those we know firsthand. San Francisco is sometimes chided for its provincialism, but we’ve decided to embrace it and introduce you to some people in our neighborhood.
We’d like to start with a project by Volume Inc., the studio of Eric Heiman and Adam Brodsley. Volume recently celebrated their tenth year in business, and they have consistently been one of the best, most creatively fresh firms in town. We teach with Eric at the California College of Arts (CCA) and have had the pleasure, through school, to get to know him and to see the reciprocal relationship between his teaching and the work Volume produces.
Our studio is near the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and I first noticed Volume’s campaign for this institution there. Soon I saw the posters in large clusters on signage, buses and even a giant wall directly facing SFMOMA, as if in a Hatfield–McCoy standoff. Simultaneously simple and bursting with color and form, they stood out amongst the others, which tended to be typographically crowded and directly tied to an exhibit or event. These were more general and graphic, and provided a bit of mystery.
They feel like a fresh direction for the museum, and I like that they are delightfully weird: an advertisement, but also a piece of public art in and of itself. The campaign, entitled YBCA+You, represents an effort at bringing new energy into the organization. In the project brief, YBCA asked for something that would “shift how people engage with the institution and attract new audiences,” revealing the experience to be populist, social and arts-oriented.
Volume responded with this image of heads filled with their response to art. At turns cheeky, elegant, technical and joyful, they reflect the endless variety of experiences our relationship with art can bring.