Steven McCarthy

Recent articles by Steven McCarthy

Always in flux

Issue 82, Winter 2012


The first major museum-based American graphic design exhibition in fifteen…

Recent blog posts by Steven McCarthy

Say their names

6 July 2020

In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, Minnesota’s Twin Cities filled with graphic expressions of rage, mourning, solidarity and hope. By Steven McCarthy
In the wake of George Floyd’s unwarranted death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the graphic landscape of Minnesota’s Twin Cities has exploded with expressions of rage, mourning, solidarity and hope, writes Steven McCarthy.

Collage champions

30 August 2018

Steven McCarthy reports from Kolaj Fest in New Orleans, a new international convention that takes collage seriously – as art, medium and process
Collage, the cutting and pasting of published images and texts, straddles a spectrum – it is deceptively easy and childlike on one hand, and complex, nuanced and able to make sophisticated visual statements on the other, writes Steven McCarthy.

Art behind bars

13 October 2016

At a correctional centre in Alaska, the drawings of long-term inmates turn prison walls into mirrors. An essay by Steven McCarthy
To a graffiti artist, a blank wall represents an opportunity for expression, writes Steven McCarthy. For a prisoner, it’s the opposite of opportunity – walls are among the many environmental and social structures that confine them physically and psychologically.


2 June 2015

An archive of historical, ‘aw shucks’ clip art shows a clipped version of history, says Steven McCarthy
One afternoon about fifteen years ago, my University of Minnesota office phone rang, writes Steven McCarthy. It was an attorney at law, claiming to represent The Gap, the clothing retailer.

Beer signs in the grain belt

13 January 2015

Water, grain and time converge at the source of the Mississippi in Minnesota. Steven McCarthy tastes the typefaces and signs that brand his local beers
Minnesota has abundant quantities of beer’s two main ingredients: water and grain, writes Steven McCarthy.

Picturing the Average Asmarino

10 July 2013

A childhood photo creates a visual conversation between two cultures for Steven McCarthy’s artists’ book-in-progress about Eritrea
When I visited Asmara, Eritrea recently after many years away, I carried a small black and white photograph of myself taken at the age of ten, writes Steven McCarthy in his third report from Eritrea.

Mapping Asmara

1 May 2013

Steven McCarthy examines the way maps represent Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara – from architectural gems to military legacy
Unable to find a map of Asmara prior to my trip to Eritrea, apart from the page-sized version in a Lonely Planet guidebook, I made several screen grabs of Google maps in progessive levels of detail and saved them as images on an iPad, writes Steven McCarthy in his second report from Eritrea.

Pride and posters in Eritrea

5 April 2013

The graphic landscape of this East African country reveals decades of colonisation, war and dictatorship. Plus a campaign (in Comic Sans) to promote national pride. Steven McCarthy reports.
Designers might know of Asmara, Eritrea’s capital in east Africa, as home to some impressive Modernist architecture, writes Steven McCarthy. Eritrea was a former colony of Italy, spent a mid-century decade under British administration, and was eventually ceded to Ethiopia, the latter being under the spheres of influence of the US, and later, the Soviets.

Get real. Go!

7 April 2011

Steven McCarthy wonders why US graphic designers don’t get out much
Where are the Americans? Why do international design conferences have such a low turn-out from United States scholars and educators?