Change a coming?

For a long time I’ve been quietly critical of D&AD’s education stance. Not that it hasn’t had one, but that it is overshadowed by its other activities to the extent it felt like a platitude. Further, it seemed that the opportunities that were available for students and their courses tended to be London centric and concentrated on those institutions with big reputations and long histories. Having a stand at the graduate New Blood exhibition several years ago was a daunting experience for lowly Suffolk students, not to mention expensive. They didn’t get a single look of interest in the two years in attendance and this wasn’t because of the quality of the work or their talent. But when faced with big guns like Ravonsbourne, Kingston et al, who seem to have unlimited resources to throw at their stand and a reputation that means industry creatives seek them out first and ignore the rest, it tends to leave a bitter taste. Initially I put this down to my own cynicism, until I heard other lecturers from regional colleges and Universities say similar things. And then they stopped running the XChange conference, where inspirational speakers addressed design lecturers in a fantastic networking opportunity. All this when the D&AD website proudly claimed ‘For Education’ next to their logo. It is not surprising that D&AD’s University Network numbers appear to have dropped in the last couple of years, if comparing the amount of stands at New Blood 4 years ago and the Universities listed on their website is anything to go by.

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Someday All The Adults Will Die: Punk Graphics 1971–1984, opened at the Hayward Gallery last week.

Crass stencil

To coincide with the opening private view, curator Johan Kugelberg hosted a panel discussion of some key designers involved in early punk graphics, along with cyberpunk author William Gibson. Apologising for co-curator Jon Savage’s absence—who was very punk by being on holiday with his mum—Kugelberg introduced Gee Vaucher, who created all the graphics that surrounded Crass‘ musical output, Tony Drayton of Ripped & Torn fanzine fame, and John Holmstrom, the man behind the American Punk magazine.

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Titter ye not

Every year there must be hundreds of dissertations being written by undergraduate design students about the portrayal of women in advertising, all referencing the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and Adbusters along the way. And you could spend a long time trawling the Internet for articles about sex being used to sell commercial products. I’ve become a little used to such arguments. However, I never expected to see sex being used to sell integrated office systems. That is, until I turned a corner in Norwich the other day to be confronted by this image on the back of a van:

I was dumbfounded and genuinely taken aback for a few seconds. I could start a basic National Diploma level Media Studies deconstruction at this point, mentioning the see-through blouse and the provocative pointing of the metaphor, sorry, I mean pen. I haven’t worked in many offices over the years, but I suspect this attire would receive raised eyebrows in the average insurance office. It certainly would in the Art and Design department staff-room I frequent in my day job.

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I read about Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics & Culture, when Rick Poynor reviewed issue 02 for Design Observer recently, and his is a much better critique of this journal than I could give here, so I’ll keep this brief. Published in the United States, issue 01 came out in 2010, and went totally under my radar. Now, in 2012, the second edition has been released, I snapped up both as soon as I could. If you are at all interested in political/agitational graphic design, then they come highly recommended. However, I couldn’t promote one over the other as both are as packed with diverse and inspirational content as each other.

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Analogue blog

I don’t know whether people still produce fanzines or not, but Kek-W is so tired of writing online that he has decided to produce one. Or rather, as he calls it, an analogue blog.

Titled Kid Shirt, this is basically a physically constructed fanzine involving actual cut and paste, which has then been scanned as a PDF for anyone to download. He sets out his rationale in the first pages:

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GraphicDesign& everything

Yesterday, Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright of GraphicDesign& put a call out for people to record everyday occurrences of graphic design in the context within which they found them. In a pop-up lab at the Design Museum, they received tweets of photographs of graphic design to go towards a research project titled Everything, which endeavours to prove how interconnected graphic design is with, well, everything.

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Can do

There is much talk about The Lost Tapes by Can at the moment, and with good reason. For those reading this that know nothing about the band, or the context within which they emerged, then there is an excellent essay on Quietus by Taylor Parkes that comes with a Dubdog recommendation. However, the point of this post isn’t to talk about Can, or the fact that these lost tapes were only rediscovered recently, or the importance of the band and their music, but to discuss the artwork and packaging.

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