Who are you? Could you tell me about yourself?
My name is B Amico, and I’m a 22 year old student attending the Cooper Union. Most of my work falls into the category of graphic design or illustration, but I enjoy being inspired by other modes of making like printmaking and sound art. Through my time at Cooper I’ve developed a particular interest in typography, both in type setting and in the design of the letterforms. Currently, I’m focused making a book of illustration and hand lettering centered around the theme of transgender identity. As a non-binary person, queerness often guides the way I approach design how I choose to communicate with the viewer. Sometimes graphic design can be very insular. Trends come and go and brands are just trying to keep up with whatever is “in.” I’m focused more so on my own personal relationship to typography and image, and how that translates then into graphic design work.
When are you graduating?
I will be graduating this coming May 2023!
What is your major? And why did you choose your major?
Cooper Union does not have pre-determined majors. All students attending the school of art receive a general BFA with no specialization. That being said, most of the courses I’ve taken have been geared towards drawing and graphic design.
Who is someone you look up to in your field? Either today or historically?
Susan Kare and Paula Scher are two designers that I admire immensely. Too often are female designers overlooked in design history, and these women have been on the cutting edge throughout their careers. Susan Kare designed the first icons for Macintosh in the early 80s with effectively zero knowledge of computers, let alone how to design for/on them. Paula Scher is an incredible typographer, arguably the best in the world. Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of design, and Scher is able to do that using the simplest letterforms and compositions. Her bleeding love for design is so apparent that it’s impossible to not be inspired. Both women are also unwavering in their confidence as designers, and that is a trait that I hope to fully embody myself.
Why did you choose Cooper Union?
I chose Cooper because of how selective they are when accepting students into the school of art, and also how open they are to cross disciplinary creating. When I graduated high school I had so much passion for art that I could not limit myself to just one specific major. Cooper Union is unique in its dedication to interdisciplinary creating. In fact, they require art students to be taking classes in at least two areas of study (I.e. painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, AV, photography, or design). And, of course, I can’t forget to mention Cooper Union’s incredibly long history of producing some of the most notable artist and designers.
What is one thing that you learned at Cooper that you didn’t expect?
Perhaps this is a simple answer, but I learned that I’m passionate about design at Cooper. Before college, I was focused on installation, sculpture and experiential fine art, but after taking the intro to graphic design course I switched my focus almost entirely. At Cooper Union particularly, there’s an incredible community among the students and professors passionate about graphic design, and it’s a community that I connected with immediately.
What inspires you?
Another simple answer, but everything!! I’ve learned that inspiration can be drawn from literally any aspect of life, and, in fact, it’s important to do so. Keeping an observant design-eye open as I go through mundane daily chores makes them much more palatable. I can walk through a grocery store and be blown away by the way they’ve displayed lemons, then use that to guide my next design project. I’m currently making a book about the netting some fruits and vegetables are packaged in.
What are you reading, listening to, or watching?
My media consumption as of late has been pretty sporadic; I’m not locked in to any one book or tv show. I do listen to music often as I make work though. Right now on rotation is Slothrust, Sammy Rae and the Friends, Vulfpeck, and… Fall Out Boy (they just released an album a near ten year hiatus, and I must honor my middle school tortured teen self).
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
In five years, I would like to be working as a part of a design team full of people whom I respect and that inspire me. Another important thing I’ve learned at Cooper is the importance of being surrounded by peers who are also actively working towards being better designers, always pushing themselves. So, I’m not too sure what kind of projects I’ll be working on in five years, but I know want to be part of a tight knit design team.
What are you passionate about? And what do you do in your free time to refresh yourself?
Now that it’s finally spring, I spend a lot of my free time just walking around my neighborhood. I look around with that design-eye open, trying to stay connected to the physical world. Graphic design can be a very computer heavy field, and it’s easy to get sucked into the screen. So, my walks help remind me where design can live–on buses, buildings, street signs, in shop windows, really anywhere and everywhere.