A Plea to The New York Times: Index Your Art
I'm in the middle of writing a post about the designer Stephen Doyle and his Word Art, most of which appeared in The New York Times the Magazine, the op-ed page, Arts & Leisure, and other sections. None of this art can be found by doing a simple search on "Stephen Doyle." The same is true for the 52-designer submissions a year published in the William Safire column, "On Language." (One of these was credited to Fiona Drenttel, our daughter, who did the lettering one week. Search Fiona Drenttel: nothing.) Or, what about the endless Op-Ed art submissions by Chip Kidd, Michael Bierut, Paula Scher, to name other obvious contributors. Nothing. Why do almost none of these turn up in online searches of The New York Times archives?
The only exception are when the art is considered "editorial" and has an editorial byline. Even as I know this distinction is hughly meaningful at The New York Times, the difference between an op-ed page illustration and an "Op-Art" feature on the op-ed page is lost on readers.
As the The New York Times moves into the 21st Century, and desires to be the "paper-of-record" online, why will they not grapple with how to show and index for search the endless and incredible art designs, illustration, artwork, photography that they commission every day. I can't imagine how the numerous and outstanding illustrators used by Times feel. Felix Sockwell, Seymour Chwast, Marian Bantjes, John Maeda, Brian Cronin, where is your art? And the list of photographers, especially if one includes photojournalists, is so long as to almost make the question absurd, one we shouldn't have to ask.
Why does the art that adds so much to the texts published in The New York Times disappear? Why cannot Times simply index the art that it publishes, at least leaving the bibliographic tracings of the work in their newspaper? As they solve the rights problems and publish more art online, why not add "search images" as a option in advanced search? [I wonder if our foreign readers can provide advice for the Times on models that work well in other newspapers.]
What is required here is a cultural and editorial shift at the The New York Times, one that acknowledges the increasing important role of art, design and photography in a visual culture.