VII Observations

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Women's Day, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, 2004
Photo by Alexandra Boulat


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Uncertain Journeys, Lesbos, Greece, 2015
I felt conflicted about photographing the refugees as they arrived in Greece.


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U.S. Marines, Fallujah, Iraq, 2004
Combat engulfed the forces’ advance, as insurgents engaged them with sniper fire and RPGs in one of the fiercest battles yet


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Syrian Refugee, Lesbos, Greece, 2015
...their journey had not ended—it was just their next step into the unknown.


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Subway Attendant, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2007
The idea that ’life imitates art’ takes on a whole new meaning in North Korea.


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Polluted Garden, Romania, 1995
Broken Dream: Twenty Years of War in Eastern Europe


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Mustard Field, Bangladesh, 2015
Places in this photograph do not exist anymore.


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GoGo Anna, NYC, 2005
Immediately after photographing Anna she barked at me...


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Fur Coat, Dongling, China, 2012
I was stepping out of a car on a trip to a village in landlocked Anhui province in central China when she caught my eye.


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Faith, Swiebodzin, Poland, 2011
Representing transcendent aspects through a visual art as photography is an interesting challenge.


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Displaced Women, Sudan, 2007
I could not have imagined what a powerful moment it would represent.


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Dancer, Verona, Italy, 2004
“...and the magic appeared and she made my day.”


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Cheerleaders, Lexington, KY, 2005
It was the stark contrast that makes a photographers job so crazy and wonderful sometimes.


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Chechen Fighters, Contact Sheet, Grozny, Chechen Republic (Russia), 1995
At that moment in time there was not a more dangerous place on earth.


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Balloons, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2002
Children are allowed again to enjoy kites and other items banned by the Taliban


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Light Overcoming Darkness
Donald Trump kisses his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 20, 2016.


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Older Sisters Rule
A young girl dreams of becoming a summer festival queen like her older sister, Conesville, Iowa.


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Your Civic Duty, An Incredible Right
A woman casts her ballot in the Afghan presidential election in Herat, Afghanistan, on Oct. 9, 2004. For the first time in 20 years, Afghan women were allowed to vote in the 2004 presidential election.


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The Three Amigos
In 2000, November 7th was election day. And what a day it was.


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The Rough Rider
Supporters of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega attack elected Vice President Guillermo (Billy) Ford in Panama City, May 10, 1989.


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I Do Solemnly Swear
President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 44th president of the United States on the West Front of the Capitol as his wife Michelle looks on in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2009.


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Make America Great Again?
Inside the convention the Jumbotron projected a vision of strength and unapologetic aggression. Speech after speech worked to reinforce the need for order and security.


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Who Needs a Hug?
US President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton embrace on the third day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 27, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


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Trick or Treat
Children across the country celebrate Halloween dressed as goblins, Hollywood starlets, and super heroes. Pictured here in Tampa, FL, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, and Princess Leia prepare for Halloween treats and frightful adventures.


The Editors
Announcing VII Observations
VII Observations is a new partnership between VII and Design Observer.



Observed | April 08

The Huntington Library has a history of inequity. Can it pivot toward inclusivity? (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | April 07

Memory as inventory: a beautiful tribute in the New York Times. [JH]


Observed | April 06

Overlooked no more: The IBM Poster Program: Visual Memoranda features work by Ken White, John Anderson, Tom Bluhm and photographer Rodger Ewy among others like, um, Paul Rand. [JH]


Observed | April 05

Blending is the new branding. (Blend = Brand ± Transparency ± Framing ± Bespoke ± Blur) [BE]


Observed | April 01

Harvard’s GSD Introduces its own design imprint. [JH]

Voices: Black Graphic Design History is a free two-part webinar series through the four MICA William O. Steinmetz ’50 Designers-in-Residence. To register click here and here. [BV]


Observed | March 31

Designing with the devil. [JH]


Observed | March 29

“Professional designers, evangelists — they all took the opportunity: ridiculing, discrediting, alienating, exposing clean styles and templates, usurping the right to make design decisions.
And they succeeded...” (h/t Ethical Futures Lab) [BE]


Observed | March 26

Brand mascots, cruelty, and humiliation: the Duolingo owl and theory of change. [BE]

When less is more. [JH]


Observed | March 25

Annals of design absurdity: Zara models feature poses that make the clothes impossible to figure out. [JH]


Observed | March 24

As representations of the collective power of local people banding together, the exhibit Meeting Hall Maine aims to instill an appreciation and desire in others to preserve vernacular structures as democratic forums for generations to come. [BV]


Observed | March 23

In an effort to provide more fonts accessible to everyone, the Indian Type Foundry introduces Fontshare. [JH]


Observed | March 22

Disney now qualifies its classical film library with “advisory” disclaimers that seek to recognize (and name) racial bias and othering. [JH]


Observed | March 19

Brilliant! (via Shaun Borstrock) [JH]

Color correction and its relationship to racial bias. (Via Dori Tunstall.) [JH]


Observed | March 18

A brutally honest perspective on the current—and precarious—state of design culture with Design Observer’s co-founder Jessica Helfand. [BV]


Observed | March 17

Everything you ever wanted to know about faces on currency. [JH]


Observed | March 15

Bravo and congratulations to Lawrence Azerrad for his latest Grammy win for the album packaging of for Wilco’s “Ode to Joy” [BV]


Observed | March 10

Yohokama-based Masayoshi Matsumoto is a balloon genius. [JH]


Observed | March 05

The Center for Urban Pedagogy now has a program in Public Access Design. Meet their newest design fellows here. [JH]


Observed | March 04

On the brink of nuclear war, America’s bold response to the Soviet Union depended on Juanita Moody, an unknown spy agency operative, whose story can at last be told. [BV]


Observed | March 03

For his piece Quantum Fluctuations: Experiments in Flux, London-based artist Markos R Kay set out to visually express a quantum interaction – a phenomenon that’s notoriously unobservable. [BV]


Observed | March 02

The beautiful, origami-like art of letterlocking. [JH]


Observed | March 01

See what other people are reading—quite literally. [JH]

Old photos of famous artists and scientists animated into ‘living portraits’ using AI. [BV]

From the brilliant Ariel Avissar, a supercut of the everlasting typewriter. (Via Kottke.) [JH]

Art, activism, and the Xerox machine. [JH]


Observed | February 25

The story of designer/Marxist Enzo Mari, the role of value creation, and a tale of two bookcases. [JH]


Observed | February 24

Vintage clothes, bright colors, and empowerment for Black women: one graphic designer’s sartorial adventure. [JH]



Jobs | April 11