Tuesday, 23 December 2014

OUGD402 - Brief 01 - Reflective Practice - Exhibition Visit - GraphicsRCA: 50 Years and Beyond

A major exhibition reveals the rich history of graphic design at the Royal College of Art. Graphics RCA: Fifty Years illustrates the ways in which, for the past half century, the RCA has articulated the leading edge of major developments in graphic communication. On Monday 22d of December I had the pleasure of visiting this exhibition for myself, and I found it completely inspiring and amazing in many aspects. It was engaging and full of life and imagination, the work displayed was varied but there was a consistency in the standard and quality of the work.
The exhibition traces the development of graphic design at the College, from the game-changing influence of Professor Richard Guyatt, through the diverse approaches of such communication-world luminaries as Abram Games in the 1950s, Bob Gill, Jock Kinneir and Anthony Froshaug in the ’60s; Ken Garland and Herbert Spencer in the ’70s, Gert Dumbar, Derek Birdsall, Margaret Calvert, Tony Cobb in the ’80s, Dan Fern in the ’90s, to current Dean of School Neville Brody.
Naming the School of Graphic Design in 1948, Guyatt’s adoption of a term coined by W A Dwiggins in the 1920s (thus helping to bring it into common parlance in the UK) is representative of his culturally informed, open approach. Over his 30-year stewardship, Guyatt manoeuvred a determined shift away from purely illustrative design towards a deliberately outward-looking, cross-disciplinary pedagogic strategy that embraced photography, collage and other media.
The exhibition also highlights the under-explored experiences of prominent women graphic designers who trained at the College. Avril Hodges, a GUI designer for Apple and others, remembers her experience, ‘It was the early ’60s. I was 19 and the only girl in that year of the graphics group. Anthony Froshaug was first-year tutor and he expected total commitment, but his analytical approach to design set the standard for everything that followed.’ The strength of influential work by female graduates, including Liz McQuiston, Marina Willer, Morag Myerscough, Amelia Noble and Frith Kerr, Sophie Thomas and Kristine Matthews, Kirsty Carter and Emma Thomas, and Astrid Stavro, indicates the extent of the cultural shift that followed.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

OUGD402 - Study Task 1 - Reflective Practice

Thursday 23rd of October 2014

Today we were introduced to the Personal and Professional Practice module. This module relies on synergy, running along side our Studio Practice and Context of Practice modules throughout the duration of the course. 
We were given a brief over view of the module. I must collect, categorise and reflect on a body of investigative research and creative references, documenting my ongoing development as a Graphic Designer and my engagement with contemporary creative culture. I should make regular posts to this blog to demonstrate an increasingly individual/independent exploration of Graphic Design, the broader creative industries and general visual culture. I will use the briefs as starting points for the development of an increasingly informed understanding of the nature of contemporary graphic design practice and its role in our local, national and international culture.I will need to maintain an ongoing evaluation of my individual progress in Level 04 of the programme by regularly reflecting on what I have learned, how I have developed and how this relates to my own creative ambitions.

After the briefing we were given thirty minutes to research a design studio. My group were given:
'Sagmeister & Walsh'

Who are they? Sagmeister & Walsh was founded in 2012. This New York based design studio is comprised of several graphic artists, with Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh being the faces of the organisation. 

Stefan Sagmeister is an internationally renowned graphic artist and designer. Born in Austria  in 1962, Sagmeister studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He later received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York. He began his design career at the age of 15 at "Alphorn", an Austrian Youth magazine, which is named after the traditional Alpine musical instrumentIn 1991, he moved to Hong Kong to work with Leo Burnett's Hong Kong Design Group. In 1993, he returned to New York to work with Tibor Kalman's M&Co design company. His tenure there was short lived, as Kalman soon decided to retire from the design business to edit Colors magazine for the Benetton Group in Treviso, Italy.
Stefan Sagmeister proceeded to form the New York based 'Sagmeister Inc.' in 1993 and has since designed branding, graphics, and packaging for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, the Guggenheim Museum and Time Warner.
In 2012, he renamed 'Sagmeister Inc.' to 'Sagmeister &Walsh' with the addition of multi diciplinary graphic artist and designer Jessica Walsh as a partner. 
Jessica Walsh, born in 1986 was born in New York and raised in nearby Ridgefield, Connecticut. She began coding and designing websites at age 11 and went on to study graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design. 
After earning her BFA from RISD in 2008, Walsh moved to New York City to intern at design firm Pentagram for nearly a year. She then worked as an associate art director at Print magazine, and had design work and illustrations featured in various books, magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times and New York Times Magazine.
In 2010, Walsh met Stefan Sagmeister. He looked through her portfolio and offered her a job at his design studio, Sagmeister Inc. In June 2012, after two years at the firm, Walsh was made partner, at age 25. In homage to a nude self-portrait Sagmeister had sent out to announce the formation of his own firm 19 years prior, the new partners released a photo of themselves naked in their office to announce the renaming of the firm to Sagmeister & Walsh. Bold, shocking controversial and all in the name of design. 
The original self promotion: when Sagmeister wanted to announce that he was setting up his own studio in New York in 1994 he sent out a card featuring himself naked. Despite fears that it would lose him the only client he had at the time, the mailer had the opposite effect.
To note the change of name in 2012, Stagmeister sent out an email containing the above imagery. Sagmeister says "In the two and a half years she has been here Jessica has really shown she can do the entire thing - from ideas to execution to being responsible for the studio. [Making her a partner] just seemed the right thing to do. She's only 24 but she is an exceptional person." It is clear to see from this image that both are like minded creatives. They are evidently both massive risk takers. They use the imagery as a way of saying 'we're equal partners here' (Walsh is even posed on top of a pile of books to equalise their heights), both the same. Except they are not. As a society, we view an image of a naked middle-aged man very differently to the way in which we react to a naked young woman. Logic dictates that we shouldn't, but we do. A 50 year-old Sagmeister in his black socks is humorous and self-deprecatory as well as honest, open and daring. The original card suggested that here was a risk-taker who knew what it took to get himself, and by extension his clients, talked about. Will Walsh be judged as generously? 
Personally I respect Walsh massively for posing in such a way with Sagmeister. I think she is brave and demands to be taken seriously. 
What do they do? This design studio produces work with a distinct identity and unique feel . On first inspection a lot of the work could be mistaken for fine art, until you delve a little closer and look into the deeper meanings and messages behind their bodies of work. I would describe a lot of their projects as experimental, avant garde and undeniably playful. Blending handcraft, photography and painting with digital design, Walsh works primarily on branding, typography, website design and art installations. Her signature style has been described as "bold, emotional and provocative" with the occasional surrealistic flourish, and her art has been said to look "hand-made and at times quite daring." Walsh has worked on projects for clients including Levi'sAizoneAdobe and Colab Eyewear, and rebranding efforts for The Jewish Museum of New York and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut. Walsh and Sagmeister collaborated on Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh, an exhibition that opened at the Jewish Museum in March 2013, and ran for five months. For the exhibit, an exploration of happiness, they created a sound-activated sculpture and five short films. Sagmeiesters style of work is equally as experimental, daring and constantly evolving. The design that is produced by this studio can be classified as post modernist, as it rejects a lot of the ideologies proposed by modernism. That for me is what makes them unique. 

What makes them unique? Sagmeister and Walsh challenge preconceptions surrounding contemporary graphic design. Their work has a distinct craft feel to it, utilising multidisciplinary skills the final product often appears to look hand made and somewhat more personalised and sincere than flashy, sleek and slick contemporary design. Their approach to typography, branding, layout, use of material and colour is exciting. They are influenced by vast ranges of visual culture, drawing in inspiration from an array of stimuli. They have created a strong personal visual identity which is unique to their studio. 

Examples of their work:
A lot of Sagmeister and Walsh's work involves the use of maxims. Maxims are short, pithy statements expressing a general truth or rule of conduct. Below are a few great examples of where the maxim is the centre of attention in the pieces of design. The images below are pieces of Art Direction & Design for Aizone, a luxury department store in the Middle East. Taking the vibrant nature of the brand and presenting it in campaigns that are printed in newspapers, magazines, and billboards throughout Lebanon. The maxims are beautifully executed and communicate a clear message 



Sources used: 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

OUGD402 - Brief 01 - Reflective Practice - Leeds Light Night

On Friday the 3rd of October, Light Night illuminated the streets of Leeds. I went down to Millennium Square with a few of my class mates from Graphics to check out what was on offer. There was a great bustling atmosphere around the Town Hall and Museum of Leeds, people of all ages were there to enjoy the immersive projections and ethereal music. I really enjoyed the evening, I thought it was stunning. Here a few photographs from the display: