Natalie Shields is the type of designer (/photographer/illustrator) whose work sits at the intersection of art and design. To be precise, book art. Natalie, a RISD alumna who currently works at Ahoy Studios, uses printed matter to explore themes close to head and heart. Football seems to crop up often in Natalie’s consciousness: she’s explored the inner conflict over the treatment of women vs. love of the violent sport; the complex system of NFL penalty rules; and the emotionally-fraught experience of loving a team that can, on occasion, be an embarrassment.
Natalie’s work has been purchased by special collections at Yale University, RISD, and the University of Washington. One of my favorites is “Love, Floppy Disks, & Other Stuff the Internet Killed”, a project for which Natalie was honored with a RISD graphic design thesis award.
The person to best summarize this multi-layered book is Natalie herself:
Supposedly, the millennial generation is numb to suffering, has an inability to connect, and a refusal to feel. There’s some truth to this criticism: I’ve always been intrigued and disturbed by my own lack of emotions and fear of intimacy. However, the intensity with which young people feel, especially given our overstimulation, has been grossly overlooked. The kids who grew up alongside the internet have no clear definition between what’s real and what’s virtual. At the time in a young person’s life when normality is fetishized, figuring out who you are and what is true is pretty much impossible. Combining my own story with the voice of male and female rap lyrics and “poems” compiled from hundreds of anonymous posts on confessional apps (Yik Yak, Secret, Whisper), alongside social demographic research conducted on millennials, Love, Floppy Disks, and Other Stuff the Internet Killedattempts to compose a portrait of a misunderstood generation that feels a lot but doesn’t know what to do those feelings.
Based on the artist’s description, I’d be keen to leaf through the book. The layered nature of its content is well-reflected in layered materials, and begs to be explored further.