“Question the Classroom”

I wrote an essay published recently by the journal Design & Culture. The abstract is below. The article may be downloaded here:

This article encourages instructors to redesign the classroom. Finding the balance between service to students and to one’s own work has become increasingly difficult for professors. A recent overhaul of the BFA program in the Graphic Design Department at The Rhode Island School of Design has created an opportunity for faculty to bring their own areas of interest into the classroom. The results so far have been more interpersonal connection, more diverse outcomes to projects, and an agile core curriculum.

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February 15, 2017

“How Does RISD Teach Graphic Design as a “Living Medium” That’s Open, Joyous, Risky + Insane?”

Profile of RISD Graphic Design from AIGA’s Eye on Design magazine. Read the story


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November 18, 2016

Designing the Future of Design Education

I’ll be on a panel with the heads of Parsons and CCA (Yu June Park and Rachel Berger, respectively) to talk about design education. Moderated by Juliette Cezzar and Brin Smith. Hosted by AIGA NY.

Monday, June 6, 2016, 6:30–8:30pm.
Starr Foundation Hall, Room UL102
63 5th Avenue

More info

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June 6, 2016

Lecture and program review at LAU

I just returned from Lebanese American University, where I gave two lectures (one at each campus) and am writing up a program review. Thanks to everyone at LAU for an excellent few days … an opportunity to think about graphic design education and, in particular, its place in the Middle East.

A photo posted by Graphic Design LAU Byblos (@lau.graphicdesign) on

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February 13, 2016

Presenting at AIGA New Orleans: ‘From Browser to Book’

I gave a 20 slide Pecha Kucha talk about the HTML Output course at AIGA New Orleans in October. See presentation notes from myself and other speakers

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October 22, 2015

Lucinda Hitchcock and I discuss RISD GD’s BFA curriculum

Mitch Golstein, co-founder of the podcast ThroughProcess, came to Providence to talk with Professor Lucinda Hitchcock and me about design education.

Listen to the conversation

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June 14, 2015

Thesis book story published on Design Observer

I was asked by Design Observer to contribute the story behind the making of my 2004 graduate thesis, Take Your Time.

Read the piece

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June 13, 2015

“Design and Technics” lecture given at Univ. of Delaware

Thanks to the students and faculty for a great visit to the Art Department at the University of Delaware.

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March 17, 2015

Work on view, “Six Lines”

Four HTML Patterns, the for/with/in book and demo video are on display at RISD’s Architecture Dept. Gallery until March 20th. The show is titled “Six Lines,” and accompanied a panel with RISD professors on their relationship to tools. More information and documentation is available at risdtool.org

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February 27, 2015

Lecture at CCA

I had a much needed snow break at the California College of the Arts this week. There I talked with students and faculty of the Graphic Design Department about how the web browser can be used as a general purpose design tool. Photo via CCA Facebook page

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February 6, 2015

Lecturer at DesignWeekRI

I’ll be giving a 15-minute overview of my work in designing information, information systems and organizational systems. Three other speakers will be in attendance, followed by a panel with all of us. At Aurora in downtown Providence. Thursday, Sept. 25 from 4-6pm.

More info at http://designweekri.com/events/

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September 11, 2014

Centennial Voices essay for AIGA

Read my essay reflecting on design at the AIGA’s 100th anniversary.

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August 18, 2014

“Design & Education” panel


I led a panel about design & education with Ellen Lupton, Jessica Helfand, Prem Krishnamurthy and Andrew Blauvelt. It was part of a daylong series of conversations in the “Critical Encounters With Type, Image and Print” program at the RISD Museum in April of 2014

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April 21, 2014

“Locally Made” exhibition graphics win Communication Arts Typography 4 award

From the Magazine: “Identity, wayfinding and daily guide for Locally Made, the RISD Museum’s exhibition of Providence-area contemporary art. The daily guide and wall treatments make sense of 300 artists and 180 live performances scheduled over four months. The guide is printed on demand from a high-speed thermal receipt printer on blue paper. The title signage uses the receipt rolls, anchoring the printing process to the entry of the exhibition, offering an expressive and joyful tone.” Typefaces: Fort, Perfin, Simplon.

Designed in collaboration with six fellow Design Office members. Learn more

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January 20, 2014

Winner of 2014 RISCA Design Innovation Grant

I was awarded The Design Innovation Grant from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts. More information and the full list of grantees from 2014

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January 20, 2014

Greeting cards available at RISD Works


Visit RISD Works on North Main Street in Providence to buy one of five cards designed by Design Office members. I submitted the first and the third card pictured, both patterns created in the web browser.

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December 25, 2013

One minute audio insight for Design Observer

See the original post on Design Observer

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December 25, 2013

Lecture: “Data-driven design tools for the Web”

I will be giving a lecture as part of Brown University Library’s Digital Scholarship Lecture Series. I will show my work designing data-driven software systems for designers, educators and the general public.

Thursday, Nov. 14, 5:30pm at Brown University’s Rockefeller Library


Post Event

From Brown University Library

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November 2, 2013

Introducing Charrette — a WordPress theme for today’s studio classroom

A WordPress theme to encourage sharing and discussion within the classroom and between institutions.


More information at charrette.ws

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September 2, 2013

New work: Locally Made exhibition graphics

P8304574My fellow members of The Design Office and I have just finished designing, producing and installing the exhibition graphics and a print-on-demand daily guide for the RISD Museum’s upcoming show, Locally Made.

Please visit the show from July 18 until November 3rd, 2013. More images to come.

More information and a list of artists available at the RISD Museum website

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July 10, 2013

Poster and bookmarks wins 2013 AIGA award



The design of the Skolos-Wedell Highsmith poster and bookmark project received a “bone” from the Boston chapter of the AIGA. The cast-iron “Best of New England” awards are given to top design projects (of all sorts) created in the last two years in New England.

The 2013 contest was judged by Lucille Tenazas, Elliot Earls, and Stewart Smith

More information at http://boneshow.org/

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July 1, 2013

Visiting Artist Scholar Lecture at Michigan State

I am pleased to be a part of Michigan State’s Art/Art History/Design Lecture series for this year. I’ll be lecturing on January 31 at 7pm in South Kedzie Hall.

There is more information available on the Michigan State website

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January 29, 2013

Two photographs to exhibit in Preservation Society show

I will have two photographs on exhibit at the Providence Preservation Society’s annual “Ten Most Endangered Properties” exhibit. I was asked to photograph the George C. Arnold building on Washington Street in downtown Providence. Both images were photographed with a large format field camera on Kodak film and printed at The Design Office.

An opening reception will be held at the Brick School House, 24 Meeting Street, on Thursday, November 8, 6:00–8:00 p.m. The event and reception are free and open to the public.

More information may be found on the PPS website.

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October 23, 2012

Speaking at WordCamp Providence, Oct. 27

I’ll be lecturing on WordPress for Teachers on Saturday, October 27 at WordCamp Providence. I’ll share how I’ve been integrating WordPress as a classroom accessory at RISD. The talk will be about pedagogy, design and WordPress theme development.

More information and registration information

Video from the event:

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October 23, 2012

Announcing 204 Westminster, and a new Design Office

I have moved The Design Office from the 4th floor to the 3rd floor of 204 Westminster. There are 12 desks and 2,500sq/ft of workspace. As part of this move, I commissioned Anther Kiley to design a sign that reinforces the architectural distinction of the building and directs visitors to the building entrance with an arrow. During this process, two RISD student groups became a part of the burgeoning arts building on the first floor. We hope the gallery and materials resale shop settles in for the long term.

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September 1, 2012

Appointed to full-time faculty at RISD

I am pleased to announce that I will be joining the full-time faculty in graphic design at The Rhode Island School of Design. I will continue to work as an independent designer and run The Design Office.

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August 1, 2012

“Designers on Design” at the RISD Museum of Art

Join me from 5:30 until 6pm, Thursday July 19, 2012 to discuss the timeless considerations of letter forms in a Greek carved stone tablet.

More info

Picture from the event (courtesy of the RISD Museum):

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July 1, 2012

Photographs on view in Berlin: “New Vintage Digital Vernacular Letters”

New Vintage Digital Vernacular Letters

The show will run from February 1st – March 31st. The opening party is Friday February 3rd
The free drinks will begin promptly at 18:00.

From the gallery website: “Thanks to digital cameras, smart phones, nearly unlimited storage space, and online social sharing it is easier than ever to capture, collect, and share images. Particularly exciting is the now relatively mainstream pursuit of photographing interesting found type and lettering. Whether it is encountered in one’s neighborhood or stumbled upon while traveling, there is seemingly no end to unique letters to be collected. This phenomenon is illustrated through dozens of blogs dedicated to found letters, to Flickr’s countless tagged images of type, and by sites like we love typography – currently with 12,000+ curated images.”

More information

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January 31, 2012

Contact Sheet – a gallery plug-in for WordPress – is ready for early adopters

I’m pleased to announce that Contact Sheet is ready to use. After months of testing on The Design Office website, the open-source plug-in is documented and downloadable at http://cs.thedesignoffice.org.

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January 22, 2012

Redesigned Design Office website launches

I’m happy to announce that we’ve relaunched The Design Office website, still at http://thedesignoffice.org

The website provides a better look inside the space by showing off its physical environs, profiling the people who are or have been involved since the beginning, providing specifics on how any designer can get involved, and listing a catalog of member-initiated projects.

The website also launches several projects and initiatives:

  • Open Office Hours: Bring your coffee and your laptop and work at the conference table. Any Friday morning from 9:30am until noon.
  • Work in Progress Critiques: Monthly discussions of work. Open to all.
  • Modern Pictograms: Typeface for interface designers developed originally for Flatfile … available now as a free download in OpenType and @fontface for Web.
  • Contact Sheet: Image gallery plug-in for WordPress. Developed for our new site by John and Sarah Bostwick, we’re making it available as a free download soon.
  • Heirloom Seed Kit: Sarah Rainwater’s holiday garden kit and calendar is documented and available for sale.
  • Pictures of Type: Online archive of found typography. Stay tuned to contribute. Hundreds of photos from John’s typography 1 class already online.

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January 12, 2012

Photograph in the “Ten Most Endangered Properties” exhibit

I was one of ten photographers asked by The Providence Preservation Society to photograph a building they deemed vulnerable to demolition. I chose the Teste Block building around the corner from The Design Office at Weybosset and Dorrance Streets. Taken with my Linhof 4×5 camera, this 20×25″ print shows the ultra-thin building from the 4th story of the Dorrance building nearby.

The opening is Thursday, November 17 from 6pm until 8pm at the RISD architecture department at 231 South Main Street.

The show runs until December 3rd. Do try to make it. The hours are listed on the PPS website.

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November 8, 2011

Docomomo Tour of Ira Rakatansky homes

Driving tour of eight residential structures in the Providence area designed by Mr. Rakatansky, with exclusive access to some interiors, and exterior tours of others. Tour participants will provide their own vehicles and will be given a map of all locations, including tour start, upon ticket purchase.

This is a paid event. More information on the tour from Docomomo.

B More on Ira Rakatansky

Below is the itinerary for the October 9th tour:

View Docomomo Ira Rakatansky Tour in a larger map

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October 8, 2011

Reflecting on Steve Jobs … A call for better leaders

In reflecting on Steve Jobs’ many accomplishments, I return regularly to his role as a leader. When considered alongside other visionaries responsible for ground-breaking designs (think Frank Lloyd Wright and the Eames), Jobs also ran a multi-national public company. As his career progressed, he became the actual, and adopted, chief of more and more people: from geeks, to designers, to animators, to musicians, to telecom workers, to retailers, etc. Whether they worked for Apple or not, people associated with those fields voluntarily chose him as their leader — me included.

Jobs’ passion and drive was enough to attract followers, but with blockbuster product after product coming out, he had everyone listening. What makes a new Apple product great is that it’s unimaginable before it’s released, but once it is, we can’t think of a better solution. This happened again and again, always with Jobs on stage grinning enthusiastically as he revealed world-changing designs. You can relive these moments in the now legendary videos of the release of the Macintosh and the iMac and the iPod Nano. In his Facetime chat with Jonathan Ive during the iPhone 4 release, he said that he grew up with the Jetsons and that the day had come to make video calls. We all smiled with him. It was as if he had landed on the moon. But unlike space travel, he was going to take us there with him.

The emotional void from Jobs’ death makes me ask questions of those who remain on top — the elected politicians, heads of universities, corporations and non-profits. Do they skate — as Jobs and hockey player Wayne Gretzky once did — “to where the puck is going to be, and not to where it has been”? What visions do our leaders have? Where do their passions lie? Will they learn from Steve Jobs to not conduct polls, or cut corners, or make excuses, or settle for less? If they do, I will support them as a voter, as a customer or as an admirer.

Rest in peace, Steve, and thank you for your leadership and inspiration.

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October 7, 2011

Moderating panel at “A Better World by Design” conference

I am moderating a panel this Sunday that includes top practitioners in the field of communication-based design: Julia Vasker from Hyperakt, Scott Stowell from Open, Lindsay Kinkade from Little Giant and Steve Duenes from The New York Times graphics department. The panel is part of the Brown and RISD student-run conference, “A Better World by Design,” a completely student-organized conference that places innovation and impact over individual success (their words).

We’ll be at Brown’s Granoff Center, Studio 1, on Sunday October 2 from 9:30am to 10:45am.

You must register in Salomon Hall (Brown University green) to attend — starting at 8:30 am on Sunday or from 8am to 6pm on Saturday.

W More information at abetterworldbydesign.com

Lessons learned from the panel

Updated Oct. 4

Design process

Design process is not a conveyer belt, but a group that works together from beginning

Julia Vakser couldn’t remember the last time one person took a project from start to finish. I wonder how collaboration works as equals? Subcontracting is one thing, but “co” laboring is another.

When you start out, don’t just take work to pay the bills. You might find yourself doing that 15 years later. Scott Stowell

Do what you’re passionate about says Lindsay Kinkade

End forms

Design is a conversation not an end form. Lindsay is wrestling with how to show the work she’s doing because it involves facilitation and culture change.

Design is about systems/modules/parts that can be put to work. Gone is the perfect end form. Scott spoke of making posters like churning butter — not so common.

Concept (Scott) and content (Steve Duenes) are way more important than the end form. If the client is talking about color, then the concept is home free. (Scott)

Scott showed a big green dot as a solution to a logo for “the big green planet.” He said there were many proposals just like it, but they liked his the most. I wonder was it the presentation? The people? The portfolio backing it up?

“Not all films need to be documentaries”

Work that ends up not as you want can simply not be promoted … except if you’re The New York Times, then you have to wait a day to disown it.

Designs that made a difference

Workers after Sept. 11 cut out New York Times maps and used them onsite to do their work

Lindsay’s work on health communication that reduces errors in hospitals

If you want to change the world, you need to know what’s going on in the world said Lindsay. She and Scott praised the New York Times’ work.

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September 30, 2011

Print donated to AS220 Photo Lottery

Support the AS220 darkroom and walk home with one of the 150 photographic prints donated. I submitted an unpublished photograph from the Ira Rakatansky monograph. Works from Jack Pierson, Nan Goldin, and the sea of local Providence talent are also available and on view from now until the September 24th lottery.

More information on the AS220 site

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September 12, 2011

Two summer courses open for registration

Register for “Web Design” and “Data-Drive Design”, two courses that I’m teaching this summer as part of RISD’s Summer Institute for Graphic Design Studies. Find out more

Update: Web Design course is full!

Update: Web Design class site

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May 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, johncaserta.com

This domain turns 14 years old today. I still have the original portfolio page archived, although the links don’t work. That’s the original jc green (as it was referred to).

I’m celebrating domain registration renewal day by launching my archived portfolio using the Flatfile website template. Featuring a slightly updated jc green, the site shows a decent overview of the last 14 years. Particularly light are graduate school projects from 2002-2004, works from Italy in 2005 and my recent works with Brown University’s Watson Institute.

An anniversary waits for no one, so today this launches, and “tomorrow” I’ll add some more content.

Thanks for visiting.

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March 17, 2011

Flatfile now available

After 9 months in the making, I am happy to introduce Flatfile, an affordable website solution for artwork.

See the overview page for pricing and features

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March 8, 2011

Flatfile used as unofficial exhibition catalog for 2011 RISD Faculty Biennial

The unofficial catalog is John’s submission to the Biennial. Created in three days, the Flatfile kiosk organizes more than 200 artists and 400 photographs. Visit the RISD Museum before March 20 to see the project.

See archive

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February 24, 2011

See an overview of Flatfile at Pecha Kucha Feb 23

I’ll be presenting 20 slides at 20 seconds a slide at AS220 on Feb. 23. Exact time to come. And February 24 is RISD Faculty Biennial, where you’ll see Flatfile in action as the unofficial catalog of the 205 works in the show.

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February 3, 2011

Spatial Typography featured in “Font Family” book

Experiments with 3-D typography from Yale have been included in the book Font Family published by Index Books in Barcelona.

Learn more

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January 13, 2011

MoMA Store Soho carries Rakatansky monograph

New York buyers can pick up the Rakatansky monograph at the MoMA store in Soho.

W More information

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December 29, 2010

Three photographs published by The Encyclopedia Project (Vol II)

Three of my photographs are in the second volume of The Encyclopedia Project. Published out of Los Angeles by former Brown University fiction students, the book integrates fiction, poetry and visual art to make part reference/part literary journal.

i Buy the book
W More information

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November 20, 2010

The Advice of Strangers launches today

I designed the site for performance artist Marc Horowitz’s latest project, “The Advice of Strangers.”

Starting today for one month, he’ll be asking you to help him figure out what to do with his life. He posts questions and possible outcomes, users vote.


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November 1, 2010

Come see me on a panel at a RISD Alumni Lecture Series event on Oct. 27

RISD Alumni Lecture Series
Ira Rakatansky ’42 ARCH

Mentored by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, RISD and Harvard Alumnus Ira Rakatansky’s architecture celebrated the best of the Modern movement.
Join us for cocktails and conversation with Ira, RISD Architecture Head Lynnette Widder and Critic John Caserta, the co-editors of Ira Rakatansky: As Modern As Tomorrow, a new monograph in the RISD Architecture Series.

Cocktails at 5:30, to be followed by a lecture and book signing at 6:30.

Oct 27, 2010, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Chace Center Lobby/Metcalf Auditorium
The RISD Museum
20 North Main Street

W More information on the book

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October 19, 2010

3-D Typography book features Letterboxes

Letterboxes has a page in the Jeanette Abbink and Emily CM Anderson’s book 3-D Typography. The book is full of projects showing type off the page.

B More information about the book

i Buy the book

W More information about Letterboxes

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October 8, 2010

Come see “Fall Leaves” on October 28

At noon on Thursday, October 28, 2010, we will print the poem “Fall Leaves” by Brazilian designer Guilherme Falcão out of our window in downtown Providence. Written in response to our call for submissions, “Fall Leaves” is 2-feet wide by 24-feet long and will take about two hours to print from our 4th floor office at 204 Westminster down to just above street level.

A Project documentation

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October 6, 2010