I don’t know why it took me so long, but I finally read Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist over the weekend.
Other than stealing (which I intend to do more of), another idea in the book that I clung to was writing fan letters. I used to do this. One thing that Kleon recommended was to write public fan letters out of admiration and to share that admiration with others. I love that idea so I’m starting today.
This series doesn’t require a response or affirmation from anyone. It is simply to say thanks and hopefully for others to find a new person worth admiring.
Dear Rob Giampietro,
Thank you for teaching me how to write a syllabus.
You showed me that a syllabus didn’t have to be a boring, lifeless document — it could tell a story. I remember stumbling across Lined and Unlined in 2016. It was like opening a random door on a random street and walking into an amazing library. I remember scouring each project, essay, and workshop. Workshop. I remember it being such an interesting and deliberate word choice to categorize a webpage outlining the basics for a course you were teaching. Everything about your work was just that…considered. Even down to the humble syllabus.
From your meta workshop Teacher’s College in 2012, where students were teaming up to create a syllabus, you stated:
Following a favorite teacher of mine, the syllabus will begin with an image and end with a list, forming points A and B of the document. How these points connect, and how future designers might make use of them, will be our collective concern and ultimate project.
This simple idea told me so much about what a syllabus could be. The format could change. It could bend. It could connect dots with ideas and concepts outside of the subject matter. It could be ephemeral. It could be highly specialized. It could include images, drawings, and lists. It could be a very direct and concise 200 words. Or it could be an exhaustive 2000 words, like your essay meets syllabus for RE-THINK!, one of your courses at RISD in 2015. This syllabus alone includes references to constellations, the cave paintings at Lascaux, Sala Regia, the 1953 exhibition of Alison and Peter Smithson called Parallel of Life and Art, and of course the Eames Office work THINK! for the IBM Pavilion at the 1964–65 World’s Fair.
I love the internet, but it tends to break in its always changing and ephemeral nature. Thank you for keeping your work, writings, and teachings available on your site all of these years.