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Week 3 Perspectives

Fields of Practice

































In a remote guest speaker video last summer (2020) for New Blood Festival,  inspiring advertising veteran Sir John Hegarty discussed his thoughts about the relationship between creativity and culture.  One point he considered to be very important was the notion that designers should “challenge conventional wisdom” (New Blood Digital Festival 2020)  Challenging ideas takes courage and honesty and the wisdom he refers to can be obtained by living your life with a constant thirst for what is going on around you.  This requires the designer to push themselves out of their comfort zone and the broadening of Graphic Design industry is seeing the results of designers doing just that.  Using a disruptive approach to an old or established idea, seems to fulfil our brief to develop a point of difference in each new piece of work.  Furthermore, successful, maybe even controversial, outcomes draw attention to us, which can only be a good economical after effect, right?


It is certainly clear that designers will often take inspiration from culture, but it was not always so well ingrained in every design discipline.   Cultural referencing in advertising was not really entertained until the 1970’s when designers felt that advertising needed to engage before it informed.  Sir John Hegarty recalls that this led to “more memorable work [that] got noticed” (New Blood Digital Festival 2020).  Designers began to use observations of things around them in their work, an idea that challenged conventions and brought a point of difference at that time.  As we have moved on, the use of cultural references is abundantly used by designers.  In the 1970’s and 80’s Sir John Hegarty and his contemporaries were bringing cultural viewpoints in to their work and poking fun at stereotypes and established ‘norms’ of the era.  The resulting advertising campaigns, whilst often a spearhead for discussing issues of gender equality, were considered socially acceptable because they alluded to a culture in which Hegarty and his colleagues inhabited.  Fast forward to today when designers are using digital visual tags from cultures outside of their own, we begin to question the authenticity of the end result. The digital access we have to worldwide cultures is providing a wealth of exciting stimuli for work.  However when does cultural inspiration turn into cultural appropriation and just how accurate are our sources of culture? 


Molly Long explores this very issue in her article written for Design Week [online].  Long interviews Dutch Designer and Researcher Ruben Pater, she sees the issue stemming from Western Design educational teaching,   Pater explains, “The majority of the curriculum in design research is dominated by European theories, methods, and pedagogies.  In order to create a greater impression on cultural aesthetics, designers need greater exposure to design practices being done outside of western tradition.”  One would think this would be a simple solution as students from cultures all around the world study in Western institutions, they bring with them a breadth and depth of understanding about their culture that would educate their Western peers.  


Active designers seem to be celebrating this global cultural viewpoint, some of the bigger organisations, Pearlfisher for example, opening networks of studios in a variety of countries, individual designers taking opportunities to travel and meet people from a particular culture (pre-covid) and see this world collaboration and hyper connected web a positive advancement.  When the question of globalisation was posed to him, Simon Manchipp from Someone stated that  “different cultures make you think about different ways of working [and that] encourages greater exploration”. (The Case Studies c.2020) 


As responsible designers we should be ensuring that the exploration we undertake at the researching stage of any project, is validated, credible, truthful and fair. Ironically, and difficult to do in the current pandemic, this should mean we get out, away from our computers, ipads & phones and explore genuine, first hand experiences of the world we live in - roll on lockdown lifting!




Workshop Challenge 1 - Graphic Design Categorisation & Terms

The first workshop challenge this week asked me to consider my “ views on design terminology “ and to be frank, I didn’t really understand what this meant.  To me ‘design terminology’ is the language that designers use when discussing their work. The focus of the workshop was around design categorisation, I felt the question should really be  ‘what is your view on definitions of graphic design?’ I set about trying to understand what it is about each designer or design team that sits them within a particular category.  I also wanted to investigate if there is a more universal term that could apply to all Graphic Designers today, no matter what they do.

The Relationship to Art

As I began to explore the categories of award winners in the 2020 D & AD online catalogue, I was surprised by the broad range of work on show.   I was particularly inspired by the designers using modern artist’s techniques to convey their messages, whether it was for a client or for self-promotion. 

Music Design Studio, who credit themselves with offering services from branding to copywriting, produced work to answer the brief; “put 54 Princess Street on the radar of creative businesses wanting a space to make their own” (Music Agency 2020)  “The Office is Dead” project mocked traditional office spaces using witty imagery to upturn a standard idea of an office and focusing on what the space could become.  (See Fig 1 & 2)



















































This work could almost be placed in an ‘installation art’ category but the dressed spaces existing alongside a virtual tour of the space, floor plan links, geo tag location and of course the sales pitch, firmly file this work in the digital, branding & advertising section.  It was selling an aspirational idea of what an office space could be in the hands of a creative enterprise.

The Relationship to Medium

What also struck me as I viewed D&AD Graphic Design was how Graphic designers felt liberated enough to play with any medium.  Magpie Studio created a ‘tandem’ style jumper with type integrated into the knitted surface. (Fig 3) They called it ‘close knit’, a clever play on a term used to express groups of people with a strong sense of unity, whilst also referring to a knitting term relating to yarn tension during the construction process.   The piece was conceived to celebrate a global creative collaboration exhibition in San Francisco called CommUNITY.  This work could be categorised as ‘Textile Art’ or even ‘Community Art’ but it resides within the Graphic Design category of D & AD, perhaps because the textile itself is not the outcome, rather the concept?























A Service Industry?

I recall Simon Manchipp from Someone being very clear about his definition of a ‘designer’,  “We’re not Artists.  Artists operate in a vacuum, (...) [art] exists for it’s own sake.  Design needs a brief.  We are a service” he said.  (Practitioner Case Studies c.2020)  This feels like a category in which you could place any piece of design work, produced in any medium, utilising any inspiration and sited anywhere in the world.  If there is a brief, no matter whether it is provided by a client or devised for a self promoting purpose, then the resulting work could be classed as ‘Service Design’.  I thought I would apply this definition to an inspiring piece of work that I found in D&AD collection.  The work was a collective between Art Director Sonny Adorjan and his son, Woody.  Woody is autistic.  Woody’s parents wanted to share the honest and heartfelt comments their son would often use to communicate to break down stigma and stereotypes associated with autism.  Sonny designed & produced wood block prints representing Woody’s musings in a cute and characterful way.  The resulting cards raised funds for charity Ambitious About Autism. (Fig 4)


















Thinking about whether Woodism’s project would fit in to the term ‘Service Design’, I consider, is there a brief and are they providing a service?  The answer is yes to both these questions, the brief, devised by Woody’s parents was to: ‘change perceptions of autism, educate people to appreciate their unique way’s of expressing themselves and raise funding for the charity’.  The service they have provided is one of education and enlightenment about Autism,  breaking down inaccurate assumptions and also devising a great greeting card product!  

My exploration around D&AD’s 2020 winners pages has demonstrated the far reaching design opportunities that exist today.  One similarity in approach that I have noted is despite working in a huge range of different mediums, designers are all using the world around them to inspire their work. The work is more than a response to a brief in a particular medium, it goes beyond this.  It embraces and challenges the culture and society it sits within.   The points of difference arise from different backgrounds and experiences, making each designer and design team unique.  



I produced two variations on an editorial design review for my D & AD investigations.  One example a one page print design and one to be viewed on screen.












































































Workshop Challenge 2 - Breaking the Boundaries of Graphic Design

10 Defined Areas of Graphic Design Practice

1.  Advertising Design
2.  Environmental Design (incl. wayfinding)
3.  Publication
4. Motion Graphics
5.  Corporate Design
6.  UI/UX Design
7.  Web Design
8.  Packaging Design
9.  Information Design (Data & Infographics)
10. Art & Illustration for Graphic Design


My initial thought to this list was;  ‘where do I fit in?’  Coming from a Textile Design background, trying to join the Graphic Design industry, a number of these ‘areas of practice’ would be out of my reach right now due to a lack of skills, knowledge & experience.   However if a potential client came to me tomorrow and asked me to make them a motion graphic, I would do my absolute best to learn quickly, ask other professionals and generally work my socks off to meet their requirements in the best way I could.  Would that then mean I could call myself a Motion Graphic designer?  I would remain coy about this answer, in the same way Non Format did when questioned about how they developed their work into the most recent motion graphics piece shown in the Walker Art Center film. (2010) I suppose I would just like to label myself a ‘designer’ right now, explore a range of ‘techniques’, mediums & approaches and see where it takes me.  I’m not sure if I will ever sit comfortably in one or more of the categories listed, but I’m ok with that.

Warping the Norms of Practice

My view of Graphic Design is currently one of learning and absorption, as I join from another creative area and discover more about this region of design.  I knew that Graphic Design was not just about printed materials and that the digital force was revolutionising the profession, what I had not prepared myself for was the extremes that creators are going to in order to push the boundaries of this profession. 

10 years ago John Forss and Kjell Ekhorn of Non Format, were breaking established rules of typography in order to evoke expression and emotion in their work. (Walker Art Centre 2010),  and David Carson a decade before that for Ray Gun Magazine, so the idea that typography principles can be manipulated and distorted is not a new one, but it seems to be a robust value that designers continue to play with.  This anti-establishment idea is embraced in this piece of type work by agency R/GA New York (Fig 5) Although not a new idea, the designers were not just playing around with typeface in an aesthetically interesting way like Carson and Non Format,  they appear to be subverting it.























Helvetica was designed in 1957 by Max Meidinger for The Haas Type Foundry.  On the use of Helvetica in the early Noughties, Canadian foundry owner and type designer, Nick Shinn, wrote,  “ Everyone wants to come across as MegaCorp Inc, category leader, last man standing, all things to all people. For this reason, Neue Helvetica is marketed as “timeless and neutral” (Shinn 2003).  He speaks of Helvetica's dominance in corporate circles, but then demonstrates a backlash to it’s popularity when he wrote, “It is time to retire Helvetica and its cohorts, designed long ago and far away, and once again make typography expressive of local culture, here and now.” (Shinn 2003).  It is clear that Shinn was not alone in his opinion of the excessive over use of Helvetica and so the ‘hellish’ approach by R/GA New York seems to mock it’s popularity, distort it’s uniformity and make a statement against banality, mediocrity and tedious type design. 

The agency designed the type to be “visually traumatic”(D & AD 2020), it was well received but also highly controversial and divisive, talked about positively & negatively across social media platforms.  R/GA New York describe their process as “Connected Design” (R/GA 2020).  This piece of work certainly connected people as the many social media postings can attribute (Fig 6). 
























In considering whether this work breaks boundaries of design, I believe it does because it is challenging the notion of rules within the discipline. Many artists have been known to take the same approach, take Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting ‘Mona Lisa’, ridiculed and subverted by Marcel Duchamp in 1919 (Fig. 7)






























Hell ve ti c a is provocative work and, in the case of R/GA,  completed as a self promoting project (and clearly a successful one), humorous it might be, well crafted it certainly is but it leaves me questioning whether it provides a ‘service’ and is therefore a piece of design or if it is ‘work’ for it’s own sake and therefore a form of subversive art.   I think this kind of work, designed to question whether or not an established and socially respected design is still culturally relevant and significant in our current time and place is worthwhile and maybe it is providing a service by promoting discussion and contemplation. Due to the manner in which it toys with the established rule’s of design, I would create a category called ‘Disestablish Design’.


Journal Reflections: Inspiration that Defines Us:  Culture

What have I learnt about Fields of Practice this week?

About categorisation of graphic design...designers don’t seem to need it for themselves but society likes a label to help them make sense of what you do, without it you could be misunderstood - although you could just show a prospective client your work and allow that to inform them.  Categories can be based on sectors you work within, materials or medium you work with or the type of work you produce, however design principles will always remain the same, only our practice changes.

About scope of graphic design... responding to the world around you seems paramount to this, the more you broaden your outlook, the more variety and difference in your work, and the more interesting it becomes.

About boundaries of graphic design... cultural appropriation seems to be something to be cautious about in this multicultural global industry.  Design without truth is meaningless, we need to be honest and genuine in our approach and consider bringing in more knowledgeable practitioners to ensure our work meets this objective.  Although you can complete work without a brief to satisfy your own questions and interests, as a designer we should be providing a service, without that you are an artist.

Reflections following Patrick Thomas Guest Speaker 12/02/21

The things that I take away from the presentation by Patrick Thomas were undoubtedly his exploration of ideas.  What surprised me was the depth of topics that sparked his interested, sometimes quite unexpectedly seen imagery, like the ‘blue dog’ he talked about.  I like the way that he did not want to let go of anything that sparked his interest and made no apologies about developing whatever he wanted, in whatever way he wanted.  He was refreshingly unrestrained, in a similar way perhaps to how an artist works, spinning ideas off at different tangents that led to a great body of work.  It made me appreciate the importance of doing side projects led by your own personal interests and seeking stimulus from unusual sources outside of art and design.  I also realised how important reading is to formulation of a pedagogy that scaffolds what you do.  



Updated 27 May 2021

Early on in this Module and I had not anticipated being asked to design an editorial review.  Very inexperienced in this domain and with still much to learn, I decided to re-visit the design of the piece and edit the written content slightly.  In the same way that I re-evaluated my week 7 editorial, I wanted to be more discerning in my choices of typography and look at a different composition and colourway.  I also wanted to create more depth to the piece and include some categories on the the page.  I think this new version better meets the requirements for this week.   Here is version 3...

List of Figures

Fig 1. Music Agency Installation:  Corkboard: The Office is Dead

Fig 2. Music Agency Installation:  Soft Toys: The Office is Dead

Fig 3.  Magpie Studios - CommUNITY Exhibition Contribution San Francisco

Fig 4.  2 x Woodblock printed greeting cards: Sonny and Woody Adorjan of Woodism

Fig 5.  R/GA New York - Hell ve ti c a: Helvetica, but with hellish kerning.

Fig 6.  Social Media Response to Hell ve ti c a Design by R/GA New York

Fig 7. Marcel Duchamp, 1919, L.H.O.O.Q - Subverting Mona Lisa


SHINN, N.  (2003)  The Face of Uniformity.  Graphic Exchange July/Aug 2003 [Online] Available at: [Accessed 9 February 2021]

R/GA Design Agency.  Available at: [accessed 9 February 2021]

LONG, M.  (2020)  Cultural appropriation: can designers ever responsibly “borrow” from other cultures? [accessed 9 February 2021]

New Blood Digital Festival. (2020) Sir John Hegarty, Culture x Creativity [Talk by Sir John Hegarty]  Available at: [Accessed 8 February 2021]

Walker Art Center. (2010) Drawn Here (and There): Non-Format [Presentation by John Forss & Kjell Ekhorn]  Available at: (Accessed 7 February 2021)

The Case Studies. (c2020).  How has Globalisation affected your business over time? [Falmouth University Resource] Available at: [Accessed 6 February 2021]

Practitioner Case Studies. (c2020).  Who, What, Where and Why? [Falmouth University Resource] Available at: [Accessed 25 January 2021]

Music Agency.  Available at: [accessed 9 February 2021]

Magpie Studio.  Available at: [accessed 9 February 2021]

TOMBOC, K.  (2020) 9 Types of Graphic Design Your Team Needs to Know About [Written for Learning Hub Online)  Available at: [Accessed 8 February 2021]

D & AD Awards Archive Search.  Available at: [Accessed 9 February 2021]

Discovery Notes
Analysis of Research
Fig 1. Music Agency Installation:  Corkboard: The Office is Dead
Fig 2. Music Agency Installation:  Soft Toys: The Office is Dead 
Fig 3.  Magpie Studios - CommUNITY Exhibition Contribution San Francisco
Fig 4.  2 x Woodblock printed greeting cards: Sonny and Woody Adorjan of Woodism 
Fig 5.  R/GA New York - Hell ve ti c a: Helvetica, but with hellish kerning.
Fig 6.  Social Media Response to Hell ve ti c a Design by R/GA New York
Fig 7. Marcel Duchamp, 1919, L.H.O.O.Q - Subverting Mona Lisa

Week 3 has been a real eye opener as we were asked to explore the D & AD award winners and the variety of work they undertake.  Please take a look at my notes below to see the interesting designers I discovered.

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