Steven McCarthy

Recent articles by Steven McCarthy

Shaded tints, a view of US racism

Issue 102, Autumn 2021


The Design of Race arrives at an inflection point in American society. Awareness of racial, socio-economic and class disparities has been at the forefront of national politics …

Always in flux

Issue 82, Winter 2011


The first major museum-based American graphic design exhibition in fifteen years, ‘Graphic Design: Now in…

Recent blog posts about Steven McCarthy

Two winners, 2000 losers

11 January 2024
Awards madness, Critical path, Graphic design, Visual culture

Minnesota’s crowd-sourced flag and seal raise questions for professional design practice, writes Steven McCarthy

Minnesota’s crowd-sourced flag and seal raise questions for professional design practice, writes Steven McCarthy

Say their names

6 July 2020
Critical path, Graphic design, Illustration, Posters, Visual culture

In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, Minnesota’s Twin Cities filled with graphic expressions of rage, mourning, solidarity and hope. By Steven McCarthy
In the wake of George Floyd’s unwarranted death at the knee of a Minneapolis police…

Collage champions

30 August 2018
Design education, Illustration, Visual culture

Steven McCarthy reports from Kolaj Fest in New Orleans, a new international convention that takes collage seriously – as art, medium and process
Collage, the cutting and pasting of published images and texts, straddles a spectrum – it…

Art behind bars

13 October 2016
Critical path, Design education, Illustration, Visual culture

At a correctional centre in Alaska, the drawings of long-term inmates turn prison walls into mirrors. An essay by Steven McCarthy
To a graffiti artist, a blank wall represents an opportunity for expression, writes Steven McCarthy…


2 June 2015
Critical path, Design history, Illustration, Visual culture

An archive of historical, ‘aw shucks’ clip art shows a clipped version of history, says Steven McCarthy
One afternoon about fifteen years ago, my University of Minnesota office phone rang, writes Steven…

Beer signs in the grain belt

13 January 2015
Food design, Graphic design, Type Tuesday, Typography, Visual culture

Water, grain and time converge at the source of the Mississippi in Minnesota. Steven McCarthy tastes the typefaces and signs that brand his local beers
Minnesota has abundant quantities of beer’s two main ingredients: water and grain, writes Steven McCarthy…

Picturing the Average Asmarino

10 July 2013
Book design, Graphic design, Photography, Visual culture

A childhood photo creates a visual conversation between two cultures for Steven McCarthy’s artists’ book-in-progress about Eritrea
When I visited Asmara, Eritrea recently after many years away, I carried a small black…

Mapping Asmara

1 May 2013
Design education, Information design, Photography, Visual culture

Steven McCarthy examines the way maps represent Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara – from architectural gems to military legacy
Unable to find a map of Asmara prior to my trip to Eritrea, apart from…

Pride and posters in Eritrea

5 April 2013
Graphic design, Illustration, Posters, Typography, Visual culture

The graphic landscape of this East African country reveals decades of colonisation, war and dictatorship. Plus a campaign (in Comic Sans) to promote national pride. Steven McCarthy reports.
Designers might know of Asmara, Eritrea’s capital in east Africa, as home to some impressive…

Get real. Go!

7 April 2011
Design education, Graphic design, Visual culture

Steven McCarthy wonders why US graphic designers don’t get out much
Where are the Americans? Why do international design conferences have such a low turn-out from…