post-windhover thoughts

for those who persevered to the end, those who grew weary and left, and those unable to attend, i hereby carve out a small digital space for further discussion of the soon-to-be-infamous "windhover crit". i still think there is more to be considered and learned from this situation and we should take advantage of it. i've posted some thoughts i had last night at the new programme that you may or may not be interested in reading as a starting point. regardless, post away. what did josh do well, what should have been more carefully considered? what made you the angriest? happiest? what about who was and was not chosen? what do all those choices mean?

posted by Tyler Galloway on April 23, 2005 | comments: 8 | post a comment

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the discussion, so I can only articulate my thoughts on Windhover. I will try my best not to make this sound like a personal attack—especially on someone whom I don't even know. But as I glance through the credits and find them filled with "Royal Remarkable," a self-adopted pseudonym, I find this to be most telling that the publication's design is clearly more about its designer than about those who submitted works or those who comprise its audience (which, Josh claims doesn't exist). This is the first and most obvious mistake in the publication's design. Design that breaks from convention and offers intelligent criticism and poses challenging questions to its audience is to be applauded—but that is not the case here.

The case here is about self-congratulatory, esoteric references manifested in an artifact that intentionally excludes (and/or insults) its audience. This year's Windhover is a self-serving design, one that neither represents the NCSU community nor even attempts to do so. It fails miserably as a publication because of this. It's riddled with obvious "middle-school/middle-finger" suggestions throughout (awesome quote, sTyler), but indecisive (or perhaps cowardly) in that it isn't deliberate about who or what it rails against—and that it was timed so perfectly as to wreak havoc after its editor's graduation.

Josh had a responsibility to his audience (and yes, there IS one) to deliver a piece that would provoke intelligent dialogue in response to its content that he shirked in lieu of a p*ssing contest. This piece is about stroking one's own ego, and not about smart communication. The resulting discussions, criticisms and analyses of this year's piece is a testament to the initiative and dedication of the readers of this publication—the very audience whom Josh negated. These discussions could have been elevated had the design been more thoughtful—and I don't mean conventional. If Josh wanted to break from tradition, then more power to him, but the education that he received here provided him with a skillset that should have enabled him to go about this far more effectively. Josh chose the easy way out, versus an intelligent and critical approach. Tyler's blog provides an historical analysis of this in more detail.

I have absolutely no problem with Josh's intent to break from convention, but I agree with the opinions that have been expressed that his irreverence for tradition was neither decisive nor intelligent enough to be compelling. I respect those who are bold enough to rebel against the status quo, but the desire to be confrontational needs to be followed up with an intelligent (I cannot use that term enough) form for effective communication of those ideas. This design reflects the knee-jerk reaction equivalent to the impulse to steal the rival's mascot for attention and shock value, only to realize, "Oh f*ck! Now what do I do with this goat?"

As for the "open call" for submissions, I didn't respond to the call, so please don't mistake my annoyance with the inclusions/exclusions as hostility stemming from rejection. But, if the publication is only going to represent a few names, then as editor, Josh should have just ran with the autonomy and put a select staff together which he could art direct. Why taunt us? Furthermore, I would be VERY interested to know how those who WERE included in the publication felt about having their submissions altered so drastically... please add your thoughts to this thread. Hopefully, the discussion on this thread will be of value to everyone; something from which we can all learn and improve upon.

Posted by Tracy on April 24, 2005 01:50 PM

my initial reaction to the piece was that it was a piece of trash, with insider-joke/self-serving content on shitty paper. am i just missing the "revolution" of this? it seems like this style is kind of dated and done to me?

i wasn't even aware or concerned about submissions being modified at that time. apparently "he had permission" to modify the work, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that this is lazy design that ripped off an overplayed style at the expense of student fees-----it's a fun book, that i'm sure he and his friends will enjoy, and that's great for them, but don't make it on our dime.

== additionally - this is a two-way street - who in the administration at ncsu provides the checks + balances for the publication? what would any of us do with a budget, an agenda, and total freedom?

Posted by lauren on April 24, 2005 02:32 PM

Some may think we should act like it is okay, that it will make the design school look bad, but we already do look bad, so I think we have to defend our selves. I would hope we continue to get a budget and get a designer to have this. What I am worried about is what creative liberties has he ruined for other designers? Is the creative process going to be overanalyzed so a committee decides if future designer's can send their work to print before it is run through the political wheel, virtually having no meaning anymore?

Happy Monday.

Posted by Sara on April 25, 2005 09:11 AM

Some students wrote a letter to the Student Media Adviser, Bradley Wilson, about the reaction to this year's windhover. It contained some comments from students and also questions about the alienation of readers and the future of Windhover.

From the letter:
"Windhover should represent NCSU and both writers, artists and readers should feel a connection and an honor that is reflected in this piece. However, this year writers have a disconnect with the material and its presentation, designers are ashamed of the self-promotional tools exploited by the designer, and the student body is concerned about the amount of our student fees, ~$20,000, that ends up going towards Josh Gajownik's Windhover of unintelligent, unprofessional, and selfish promotional work"


1) Glad to here there is open discussion. I think that we don't have enough discussion on this campus.

2) I hope you're including Josh and Brian, the designer and editor, of Windhover. I'm including them in this e-mail to keep them in the loop. I'm also including the 2006 edition editor, Britt Hayes.

3) All content decisions rest with the editor. I defend their right to make content decisions. We had several discussions about the appropriateness of content. We didn't have any discussions about alteration of content -- well, maybe one early in the year, but I feel confident that Josh and Brian are aware of their license as designers/editors. I'll be interested in their take on this. I'll print out your e-mail and keep it in a file for future editors. Knowing Britt, she'll probably do the same.

4) Britt and I have discussed forming a team of people -- art, photography, editorial -- to help with getting material solicited and to give feedback as the process moves along. Maybe she can use that team for feedback in other areas as well.

5) There are some good teaching points in here for future staffs. I appreciate your bringing them to my attention.

6) I want to compliment Brian and Josh for several things: a) coming in on budget; b) coming in on time; and c) getting the books distributed. While it seems those three things would go without saying, that has not been the case in my three years here at N.C. State. They've both been a pleasure to work with. I look forward to the continued discussion.


Bradley Wilson, coordinator for student media advising
Student Media
North Carolina State University
314 Witherspoon, Raleigh, NC 27695
fax: 919/513-2030

I think that his email brings up some good points. what should the approval process be like? now that we know the loose confines of this year. what is the future of Windhover, as a series, which is taken over next year by Britt Hayes? how much should content decisions and large amounts of student fees be in the control of one person? where is the NCSU in the NCSU Windhover?

Posted by Students on April 25, 2005 09:27 AM

Grist for the mill:

A few years ago Jennifer Sterling designed a controviersial /AIGA 365 Year in Graphic Design/ annual. In the active debate that followed -- a threaded discussion posted at that is sadly no longer available -- Jennifer was accused of using the book (funded by membership fees) for her own design ends. A year later a thoughtful analysis, "Great Expectations: A Note on the AIGA 365 Debate" by David Cabianca, was published in the journal /Design Issues/. You can access it online through the NCSU subscription service (free to students/faculty) at:

An excerpt from the opening paragraph reads:

"Many of the comments took issue with Sterling’s treatment of the published work: Sterling’s design crops book covers, selects poster details and, in general, presents fragments of the winning entries. It rejects the customary -- and accustomed -- layout of book spreads, silhouetted images on a neutral, white background, and full-frame posters. In contrast to accepted conventions, Sterling’s design engages us with a 'cult of texts.'"

Cabianca lays out reasons why the book might be a valid expression of a particular moment, an expression of what is possible in visual communication. At moments the essay might appear a bit theoretical, but the basic points should be clear to any graphic designer.

Posted by Denise on April 26, 2005 12:41 PM

Within the continuum of possible approaches, Sterling’s work isn’t a next-door neighbor to the subject of this thread—not even in the same neighborhood. State? Country? Maybe.

Sterling’s compositional strategy conveys the INTENT to present juried* work. The works presented in Sterling’s missive are presented as sovereign creative endeavors although someone is obviously experiencing the work for us. Small frames with .25 point rules function as a storyboard that doesn’t hide the fact that the work has been tampered with. The reader is given a hint at what is missing and the designer honestly discloses her conceit. The cinemagraphic story-boarding presents the work as though one is scanning the artifact. Through this device an attempt is made at presenting the ‘experience’ of the work. At the time, any designer worth their salt would identify this with discussions about print and dynamic media cross-over and influence—hot topics at the time.

In the end, if I had to make a guess, I would say that Sterling made some sort of catalog thing. Sterling gets an ‘A’ for effort. She bent the rules, made an indulgent piece of trash, but she held on to a thread of context that allows us to develop some sort of meaningful defense of her ideas. One can hold on to something within the concept and presentation that allows them to generate a word-count for Design Issues. Killer!

*The work presented in Windhover was neither juried, nor curated with any clear intent other than personal whim. The process in selecting work seems to have been more of a murky, nepotistic, hipster frat-like thing conducted in one of those cotton candy gizmos at the state fair, but that is beside the point. Consider me one among the secret band—there I am wearing my scarlet letter, number, or punctuation mark—I have yet to decide which, but it sure ain’t a gold star. La, la, la, la—what the h@!! ?

Posted by Tony on April 26, 2005 08:56 PM

In the final analysis, would we be having this conversation if the document in question was:

beautifully beautiful
beautifully ugly
delightfully tactile
tactically delightful



Posted by Tony on April 28, 2005 02:21 PM

*TACTICALLY DELIGHTFUL* if it were only this I would pin a medal on the designer that forged its existence. Can anyone tell me something about this designer and his truest intended affect?

This discussion is lacking all the info that those of you who attended the *crit* learned first-hand. I need to know the defense, goals, and hopes for the Windhover and its designer. thanks : )

Posted by Lisa on April 28, 2005 02:47 PM