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The Undiscovered Letter

Posted on January 21, 2008 and read 1,642 times

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Most creative people not-so-secretly wait for the day that they’ll get the perfect assignment from a client. An assignment with no boundaries, no restrictions, and no real objective beyond self-expression. That perfect assignment came on Wednesday, January 16th, via a partnership between the Art Directors Club, Moleskine, (you know, those ultra chic notebooks that creatives from all walks of life love to scribble and jot things down in) and a small not-for-profit organization called Lettera27 via a project dubbed: The Undiscovered Letter.

Most creative people not-so-secretly wait for the day that they’ll get the perfect assignment from a client. An assignment with no boundaries, no restrictions, and no real objective beyond self-expression.

That perfect assignment came on Wednesday, January 16th, via a partnership between the Art Directors Club, Moleskine, (you know, those ultra chic notebooks that creatives from all walks of life love to scribble and jot things down in) and a small not-for-profit organization called Lettera27 via a project dubbed: The Undiscovered Letter.

The challenge? To design the currently non-existent 27th letter of the alphabet. Crafted by Moleskine and the ADC, this challenge aims to push the boundaries of communication by taking something as fundamental as a letter and allowing a group of talented creatives to design a new one – however they see fit. It can be a piece of type, a photo, a design, an experience, a whatever. In this instance, the end is truly more important than the means. Erica Lee from Moleskine prefers to see the challenge as a way to “push the meaning of communication.”

A head-spinner like this challenge would be daunting for most people, but our lucky contestants have already proven themselves when it comes to extending themselves creatively. The Undiscovered Letter assignment is open only to past ADC Young Guns. Five “classes” – over a decade worth of talent – will have a few months to devise their creations, all culminating with the showing of 27 finalists at an ADC fete on April 3rd (which also happens to coincide with the kick-off for Young Guns 6).

Usually it’s easy to get a feeling for what to expect from creative contests like this, but The Undiscovered Letter is a bit different. “I have no clue what we’re going to do,” says Jonathan Jackson (Young Guns 5) with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. He and his partner, Sarah Nelson, also of Young Guns 5, own their own design studio WeShouldDoItAll. Sarah thinks that it should be “kind of daunting, but should be a great experience.”

Jonathan and Sarah may be young, recent Young Guns, but the more seasoned creatives didn’t seem to have their head any more wrapped around the assignment. Phil Yarnall (YG1) has had quite a bit of success since his Young Guns days. His studio, Smay Design, has done music packaging for acts such as Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, and the Encyclopedias of Punk and Heavy Metal. But not even all his years of experience have led him towards some thought starters for how to tackle this project. “I think it’ll be hard. It’s tricky because it’s specific, but still so very wide open. I’m just going to dig in and see what happens.”

The coming months are sure to provide a collection of works that will, at the very least, be fun to judge. Steven Guarnaccia, chair of the Illustration department at Parsons School of Design, will also serve as one of the industry rock-star judges for The Undiscovered Letter project. “You can define this brief by saying ‘beyond.’ It forces you to think beyond the box you usually think it, much in the same way the world of communications is doing right now. Fifteen years ago you would have had to fax in the very article you’re writing now, but now you can send electronically with the push of a button. That is where communication is going, and that’s what the 27th letter is all about. Finding whatever is in the ‘beyond.’”


Brandon Burns
Copywriter, New York Correspondent
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