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Alumnus’s Whitman poster design 'appears' to be ‘worth a thousand words’ and more!
7/15/14

Andrew Finnel of Corona, Queens, AU Class of 1967, writes: “A poster I designed and created is being sold at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Museum on Long Island. The poster is almost life size and includes a portrait of Walt Whitman composed of all the words - I mean every single one of them from start to finish - of Whitman’s masterpiece, ‘Song of Myself.’ "

Andrew provided some background on how the poster came about.

“The seed of the Walt Whitman poster was sown some 40 years ago in my previous life as a graduate English student at Indiana University. I chose to do my Ph.D. dissertation on Walt Whitman…. I never did complete the dissertation, and in between then and now, did other things, including writing, teaching, typesetting, and re-inventing myself as a graphic artist at BBDO, a major ad agency. And now I have re-entered that academic environment. I am a full-time graphic designer at the College of Staten Island (The City University of New York), as well as having taught a variety of graphic arts courses since 2001 as an adjunct professor at Touro College (New York City).

“As a typographer, I have been fascinated by images created out of type …

"Years ago, I would have been called a perpetual student. Now I’m called a life-long learner. Two years ago, I became a student in Touro College’s graduate Web and Multi Media Design program. I was awarded a Master’s degree this June. One of the projects I did as part of the graduate program was to create a tutorial on how to make images using only type as part of a series ….

“…. the Walt Whitman Birthplace, which I have enjoyed visiting over the years with my children and recent grandson. The museum has many wonderful features, including the original farm house in which Whitman grew up, a recording of Whitman’s voice, interactive exhibits, and a poet-in-residence program. I thought it would be a natural application of the Photoshop micrography technique to create a portrait of Walt Whitman using his entire masterpiece, ‘Song of Myself.’ But there was so much type. As Whitman said, ‘Do I contradict myself? I contain multitudes.’ I could either make the type so small as to be unreadable without a magnifying glass, or make the image that contained the type larger. And that’s what I did in creating an almost life-size image of the good gray poet with readable type from a distance of about two feet.”

The Walt Whitman Birthplace Museum is at 2460 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, NY. The site is open now through Labor Day Mondays-Fridays 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m.; winter hours run Wednesdays-Fridays from 1-4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information call: 631.427.5240