I sat down with Marcus Williams and Jamie England of WE Design before Saturday’s release of their annual book, FORM, at MINT Gallery. FORM highlights local art featuring full-color reproductions with a descriptive blurb and contact info for the artist. The book is thick and glossy, and its pages were printed and bound right here in the ATL. The book, however, is just the tip of the iceberg of what the group plans to do. WE Design began with the goal of providing free graphic design for Atlanta nonprofits. Since its inception four years ago, the operation has grown into a means to promote local nonprofits and artists.
“It’s all local, down to the book itself, ” says Williams. The only requirements are that the artist must be local and the work must be no more than three years old.
Jamie England, WE Design’s executive director, shows me to one of the gallery’s corners shortly before the party begins, pointing to three laminated copies of works featured in this year’s book. She explains, “We’re letting people at the release party vote on which work goes on the cover of this year’s special edition issue.” I write down my choice and drop it into a bowl. I’m the first to vote, but visitors begin pouring in as the event begins.
For many, this is the first time they’ve seen their work published. Others have been published several times. I see a featured artist sign her page for a fan. The majority of the artwork adorning the walls of MINT are featured in this year’s copy. Music floats through the air as people discuss the never-before-seen pages and catch up with friends. The narrow gallery continues to fill up and becomes increasingly harder to navigate my camera through.
So I ask, “What’s in store for WE Design?” Williams tells me there are three goals. The organization hopes to continue pro-bono work for nonprofits, to grow their annual publication, and eventually to create an archival wiki site to document Atlanta’s art, past and present. Copies of FORM will be available through CreateSpace and Amazon. The special edition featuring the cover chosen at the release party will be available in January 2012.