Ben Day

Oh dearest VCU, we have lost another Knight.

Above: Erik Brandt, Un petit lapin pour Ben. (2011)

Who are we without our teachers?
Word reached us this morning that VCU Professor Ben Day had passed away on June 14, 2011 in Boston, MA. Thousands of graphic design students and educators will know him as one of the co-authors of the seminal American typographic education publication, the so-called Carter, Day, Meggs book, Typographic Design: Form and Communication. The image above may be familiar to some, and it is based on a matrix study I made for Ben during my time as an MFA Candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University.

All I have left is my work for you, Ben.

Above: The initial matrix idea I developed. Rapidograph and Letraset on trace. Ben always asked us to work within limitation and to strive for flexible yet fastidious experiments. This is not to say, he did not welcome chaos and surprise.

Above: Erik Brandt for Ben Day. Zirkel, Fall 1997. A project completed for Ben while I was a graduate student at VCU, photocopied washers and wood on vellum. Color applied by hand with pencil. The type was also traced by hand. Old school days, as Akira would have said.

For undergraduate and graduate students alike, Ben was a consummate professor and educator, a master of form. I’ll never forget sitting in on a Type I class he was teaching, having just taken over my first in the Fall of 1998. I walked into a classroom where Ben had already prepared the lesson for the day on the chalkboard, upon which he had drawn, by hand, in chalk, an overview of the Univers type family. Perfectly rendered.

Beyond style or simple technique, Ben taught the value, the allure of limitation.
These animations show a project determined by the words you see, though I added, with no small amount of emotion, solidarity.

Above: Another view of my Zirkel project for Ben. Ben now joins Phil Meggs and Akira Ouchi in our fondest memories. Who are we without those who taught us? How will we, how can we, carry their legacy, their skill, their mastery? I am at a loss to answer these questions, I only know one way forward.

We must be students as long as we can, in their comforting shadows, and humbly aspire to carry on their work in some small way.

I took careful notes, Ben.

Above: Erik Brandt, Un petit lapin pour Ben. (2011)




30 Responses to “Ben Day”

The saddest news today. Here, a humble homage for one of my teachers, Professor Ben Day. http://goo.gl/9JoSV Farewell, Ben. #geotypografika

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 2:50 AM

Aaawww :( RT @geotypografika: The saddest news today. Here, a humble homage for one of my teachers, Professor Ben Day. http://goo.gl/9JoSV

Alyssa Chang added these words on Jul 20 11 at 3:11 AM

The saddest news today. Here, a humble homage for one of my teachers, Professor Ben Day. http://goo.gl/9JoSV Farewell, Ben. #geotypografika

Max Hancock added these words on Jul 20 11 at 3:33 AM

Ben Day http://bit.ly/n6UaCV #Type #Typography

Graphic Design, Type added these words on Jul 20 11 at 4:07 AM

Erik – can you post this on the VCUarts facebook site? I just don’t know how to do it. I will make you an administrator so you can post it. Lovely tribute to Ben.

Anne Graves added these words on Jul 20 11 at 6:04 AM

So sorry to hear of Ben Day's passing. RT @geotypografika: Ben Day #design http://t.co/LH7KlBd #graphicdesign #VCU

Lyn H added these words on Jul 20 11 at 6:06 AM

I’d be happy to, Anne, thank you.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 8:07 AM

Ben Day had a profound impact upon my interest and passion for graphic design and typography. His Type One class in the Fall 1993, was the first of a series of turning points. Simply put, Professor Day taught us how to see.

ern bernhardi added these words on Jul 20 11 at 9:47 AM

Well said, Ern, how true.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 9:53 AM

Erik, what a lovely tribute. I was only able to work with Ben in the teaching practicum but the little time I spent has a profound influence on my critiques and general teaching to this day.

Megan Urban added these words on Jul 20 11 at 10:28 AM

“Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”

-Dalai Lama

I’m grateful and fortunate to have been guided by a man who with a diciplined patience, showed me the fundamental relationships between type and form.

I’m sad to think of the students who’ve not had the experience. Best of luck to VCU GDES in replacing the irreplaceable.

Michael Sean O'Neill added these words on Jul 20 11 at 1:01 PM

• Thanks, Erik, for describing the importance of Ben.

John Dixon added these words on Jul 20 11 at 1:21 PM

RT @geotypografika: Ben Day #design http://t.co/Wr78LMC

Thinkhaus added these words on Jul 20 11 at 2:24 PM

RT @Thinkhaus: Sad to hear that #VCU graphic #Design Professor Ben Day had passed away on 7/14/11. http://bit.ly/oECf93

David McIntosh added these words on Jul 20 11 at 2:39 PM

Megan, thanks for your kindness, it is much appreciated. We are lucky to have known him.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 3:06 PM

John, you are really kind to say that. Was going through all of my old notes and of course can’t stop thinking of you and all of our friends at VCU. We will still carry the flag. :-)

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 3:07 PM

Michael, what a perfect quote and kind sentiment. Many thanks for saying so here.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 3:08 PM

beautiful homage for a beautiful person. thank you for sharing this.

kristy pennino added these words on Jul 20 11 at 6:10 PM

Thank you, Kristy, we are all together for Ben.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 20 11 at 7:34 PM

“@Thinkhaus: RT @geotypografika: Ben Day #design http://t.co/D4Qlja9”
I learned a lot from Ben.

D.A. Stoen added these words on Jul 21 11 at 4:09 AM

Beautiful work and thoughts. Thanks.

karen zimmermann added these words on Jul 21 11 at 10:53 AM

Thank you, Karen.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 21 11 at 1:08 PM

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this, teaching was Dad’s greatest joy. His students meant everything to him. Thank you for carrying on his legacy with beautiful and thoughtful design. He will be greatly missed.

Alene Day added these words on Jul 25 11 at 10:03 AM

Dear Alene, thank you for your kind and humbling words, your father means everything to all of us as well. I am so glad you found this small tribute.

Erik Brandt added these words on Jul 25 11 at 10:47 AM

“@Thinkhaus: RT @geotypografika: Ben Day #design http://t.co/D4Qlja9”
I learned a lot from Ben.

Brannan Blascak added these words on Jul 26 11 at 3:41 AM

Alene, I’m so sorry for your loss.

I’m in the middle of a move and just found work I did while I was a student at VCU. My favorite is a piece I did for Ben Day, and I can still remember how he guided me through some sticking points. He was a fantastic teacher.

Kate Black added these words on Jul 26 11 at 2:14 PM

The saddest news today. Here, a humble homage for one of my teachers, Professor Ben Day. http://goo.gl/9JoSV Farewell, Ben. #geotypografika

78 studio added these words on Jul 26 11 at 3:57 PM

The saddest news today. Here, a humble homage for one of my teachers, Professor Ben Day. http://goo.gl/9JoSV Farewell, Ben. #geotypografika

Ansel Olson added these words on Jul 27 11 at 7:09 PM

Ben was my professor at Louisiana Tech and hired me for my first job at Olinkraft. We worked together for several years before he left and moved to Missouri. He instilled in me a feeling and sense for design and the relationship of images and type. I lost track of him but never lost his knowledge he passed to me. I will be ever grateful for and humbled to have know Ben and to have been his friend. Thank you Ben for being in my life.

Ron Hanagriff added these words on Jul 20 15 at 1:21 PM

Best TV for Sports & Gaming 2016…

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Best TV for Sports & Gaming 2016 added these words on Jan 01 17 at 9:36 PM

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