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Crew members

July 28, 2010

When Captain Eggertsson sailed Íslendingur from Iceland to New York harbor during the summer of 2000, he had a crew of eight with him. On June 17th, 2010 we hosted a dinner for the crew to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of that voyage. The evening was a lot of fun, since of course this is a group of adventurous, brave, smart, funny people who know each other well.

In preparation for the event, I wanted to redo the display of the crew members I had done somewhat in haste last year. Before departing in 2000, the crew had their portraits taken by a professional photographer, and Gunnar had duplicate prints of them all. I selected a headshot of each one and arranged them on a raised platform. But I was never satisfied with how it looked. So before the event on the 17th of June, I asked a plexiglass maker here in town to print up all the crew names on plexiglas, and then I planned to cover the photos with that. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it has been my principle to add new components to the exhibition utilizing the same design elements–colors, fonts, stylization–as is in the original Smithsonian exhibition, since that of course was very nicely done and forms the bulk of our current exhibition.

So I asked this local plexiglas maker here in Reykjanesbaer to print the crew names in the same Albertus font, and the same white color, used elsewhere in the exhibition. As the event on the 17th grew closer, this piece had still not arrived, and I was growing anxious. I did not want the crew to come and not see their names nicely displayed. Well it turns out that in order to print in white letters, the plexiglas maker had had to cut out each letter one by one; he could not print white letters on clear film, since he does not have white ink. This makes sense of course; a four tone printer cartridge does not include white, since the assumption is the paper is white.

Anyhow, we installed that for the even on the 17th, and the crew was pleased. But I was not. The letters were a tiny bit crooked here or there, from where the knife had nicked them wrong. And a couple of letters we missing. And well it was just hard to read.

So we discussed it and he said if I could choose a color other than white, then he could print on clear film and it would all be much better. So I did that. Only silly me, I chose to use the burnt yellow color found elsewhere in the exhibition for text against blue backgrounds. Yellow letters printed on clear film is no better than offwhite text printed on white paper. If you stood just the right way, and squinted at a particular angle, you could read the text.

Now I do not expect anyone to go through all of that just to read the names of the crew. The goal is to make information readily available. So now the local plexiglas vendor is trying it one more time, black letters on clear film. Though not in keeping with the original Smithsonian design, I am relatively confident the visitors will appreciate more not having to stoop to all sorts of weird angles just to be able to read something so straight forward as this.

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