Artist Rick Dobbs carves a linoleum block of the Museum's new logo.
Walter Anderson’s 1940s passport read – Occupation: Decorator.
Walter Anderson moved between the for-profit art world, using his talents to earn a living, and the world of pure personal expression, creating for no one but himself and his maker. He would have been well-equipped to navigate the contemporary gig-centered and freelance-focused creative economy. He would have been, and was, a natural graphic designer.
Possum Kingdom, block print by Walter Anderson, painted by Rick Dobbs
“He was my idol as a young artist,” says Rick Dobbs, artist and Creative Director/Principal at New Orleans design shop, UNREAL. “I was terrified of being a starving artist. I stumbled
upon graphic design.”
Dobbs grew up in nearby Gulfport, Mississippi. He learned about Anderson as a kid, but it wasn’t until high school (as Art Club president) that he awoke to the extent of Anderson’s opus. He lay on the wood floor of the Ocean Springs Community Center, enveloped by a muraled world. “We would ... sketch,” he says. “Redraw what he drew.”
In Anderson’s art, especially the block prints, Dobbs saw the graphic shapes and forms that influence his own signature style. In both his commercial and personal work, Dobbs distills from a chaotic world order and symmetry. “I paint and draw and design what I see...
“The first thing I notice in anything in nature is the graphic shape of it. The hard-edged silhouettes. That’s where my work starts.”
Rick Dobbs, Blue Heron. Oil and acrylic on salvaged wood. 2’x4’
Dobbs' graphic design migrates from sketchbook to digitized and vectorized shapes. His paintings contrast often monochromatic subjects with an intentionally reckless underpainting of brushstrokes and color. He uses white paint to create a field of negative space, and his positive forms emerge. Uncertainty tamed by measured hand.
The former art club president has returned to the Museum, and to Anderson, helping to refine and reimagine the institution’s logo and brand to coincide with a new era and WAMA's 30th anniversary. He has designed in the footsteps of Anderson, searching for one mark to distill a cosmic and prodigious legacy.
Dobbs calls the project to design a new Museum logo “an honor and a privilege.” He has drilled down, combed through, and filled sketchbook pages with Anderson-inspired line work. “Distilling down to the most basic, pure concept.”
We are proud to introduce the results of these efforts on the occasion of the Museum's 30th anniversary. The mark honors the past, while moving with momentum into the future: