Practitioner Case Studies – Change
This week’s lecture showcased 5 studio practices that explained Who they are? What do they do? Where they’re from? and How they’ve adapted towards change in their industry. This was a great insight into the lives of traditional and contemporary designers practice that has a perspective for how creativity is formed within their studio.
Intro is an independent creative agency that has been around since the late ’80s and over the last couple of decades, they have had to deal with change within their practice to keep with the demands of the industry. Julian House and Adrian Talbot are traditional creatives that have a vast amount of experience with printed communication and moving images as their projects are award-winning films, campaigns, brand identities, and events for a roster of international brands. Julian and Adrian describe their practice as a team of curious individual collectives who bring different crafts to the projects that are circulated in the agency. The agency is a collective of independent designers but with today’s contemporary practice people are engaging in projects in a more collaborative way which they admit they still work in this old tradition of designing in isolation. Adrian describes they are still embracing the digital movement in design as they have had to change their craft in digital content material and moving images that are high in demand but see that people want a lot more for less in the practice.
Sarah Boris is an independent Graphic Design that loves being inspired by people that she says its influence in her work. Sarah comes from an editorial, branding identity, and art direction background. Sarah design career in some of the world’s leading arts institutions and publishing houses where she has worked with some of the UK’s most important cultural centers. Her practice is strongly influenced by the culture around her, where she can be adaptive to her own studio practice within a community of creativity. Sarah constantly changing the way her skills lie within her editorial and communication work ethics. She finds it hard to convert her practice with the digital era as it’s an understanding that is not so familiar and constantly changing in the field of design.
Tom Finn & Kristoffer Soelling from Regular Practice are two creatively ambitious designers who met at the Royal College of Art in London to set up their practice together to pursue their career in Graphic Design. Both guys have a great interest in type centric design and a great understanding in the history of graphic design, creating this unique collaboration in which they were able to set up a studio in Hackney Wick. They are situated in an area with great creative freedom as they’re embedded in the culture that’s inspirational and motivated with the synergy of others. Out of all the practices we got to learn in the lecture, Regular Practice was only been together for a short while, but their ambition is constantly about forward-thinking in their work. They haven’t really experienced much change in their abilities or life as designers, but they have experience within projects to adapt in many new ways of working to meet a client’s brief. Whilst also learning is the key to every project to allow them to develop and change their ways through design or project management. This has made them more efficient and allowing them to open expression to improving things in a better way in their learning.
Sam Winston sees a designer is not what you do, but what you are doing, which he explains he treats design as a verb, not a noun. This is his theory of how he works in his practice as he sees himself as a free agent to explore for clients that he can be commissioned for his style of work. With his dyslexia, he’s always questioned about his ability to write. He speaks about how it has driven him with a strong interest in type, language, writing, and design, which strongly shows in his work. My experience with Dyslexia is that I see how it’s a struggle on a daily base and wanting to improve in areas such as written communications is the desire not to be defeated. He always seems to questions every ability in his practice regardless of design, project management, studio practice, or the cultural environment that he is placed in. He really enjoys the culture in the City of London where it is intensive, culturally rich, and diverse to allow him to cultivate ideas and have creative freedom. There’s an element of apprehension that Sam describes in his practice incorporating change into his working strategy as possible, allowing him to collapse an idea into the best possible outcome. In saying this he feels he’s pretty good at thinking about how to mitigate an issue he might be feeling or thinking to make the problem less severe.
Simon Manchipp from Someone has a background of great experiences with working for many big agencies to have this understanding of how change is pursued through his career. On ‘Someone’ website it describes on their approach as ‘We don’t change symbols, we create symbols of change’ and I surely see that in him as a person when he talks about his practice. Simon speaks out how he really enjoys working with many different clients that are allowed him to explore other sectors of business which has become a joy of learning. This allows him to change his focus throughout many projects to keep his creative freedom. Simon describes without change we would be out of jobs, so we need to adapt to change whether it’s to a project, client, studio practice, or learning to adopt a new skill. Adapting change in the studio is significant to Someone’s practice as they move all members of the team in their agency to understand everyone’s roll in the company. So that’s whether you’re sitting with someone in accounts, digital, designer, or management, so they can bond and have a better experience of what’s happening in the studio.
Studio Culture: The Secret Life of the Graphic Design Studio
Studio Culture by Adrian Shaughnessy & Tony Brook describes an interesting insight into their own studio experiences and others around the globe. Practices consist of 3 factors throughout this book which are physical space, people, and work. These are very simple but most effective traits for a studio to create a domain for a collective of designers. These are made of individuals that can bring unique crafts and resources to a team that can thrive of each other to learn and discover new ways as a graphic designer. There is no successful model to run a studio, which it’s all to do with a sense of communal purpose to allow individuals to retain their own unique voices. Erik Spiekermann discusses that ‘You can have 125 people in a studio, but only a small team of 5 people can get the work completed. Teams are never bigger than that.’ as he explains from his experience. So really need to consider the size of the team but studios will grow depending on the demand of the business clients. To keep a studio running comes at a cost to keep people motivated and energised to want to stay within a team. Yes projects are fundamental to this but you have to show trust, contributions are valued and efforts are rewarded. This is the reason for the effectiveness of a studio practice.
Non-Format run by Jon Forss and Kjell Ekhorn runs a studio that is not a physical space and consists of 2 designers through the means of using digital platforms to discuss and collaborate between the two. They are virtually connected from each other’s place and able to work with clients as they’re effective in their time management, communications, and friendship. Jon lives in the USA and Kjell lives in Norway, by this, they can pick up projects on either side of the Atlantic with clients all over the globe. When either one of them has finished work at the end of the day, it allows the other one to pick up and continue their work. Their productivity is very different from the normality of physical studio space but the way they do it is very effective. Also having no studio makes life without a studio an economic and environmentally friendly impact with a healthy financial solution.
One thing that goes a long way in many studios is the spirit of humor, wit, and verbal sharpness, which is a common practice in studio life. These are described as the secret ingredients of a happy studio. Great morale, creates outstanding work and amazing people. I believe you have to play hard to work hard to create a healthy atmospheric studio practice for everyone to enjoy.
Visual Life – Michael Wolff
The muscles of Curiosity, Appreciation & Imagination should be exercised through the nature of the design. This video of Michael Wolff share’s exercise of visual learning in a nutshell. A really inspirational short film but love the way he expresses the muscles of curiosity, appreciation, and imagination that we should question in these three strengths to be influenced in the way of seeing things. True food for thought on how I can keep myself trained in visual language through everyday life no matter how big or small something can help with developing my skills.
The ways of self-portraits
Frida Kahlo Self Portrait with Cropped Hair was a significant piece of reinventing her identity after her divorce from her husband, fellow artist Diego Rivera. She depicted herself wearing an oversized men’s suit and crimson shirt. She has just cut off her long hair that Diego loved. In her left hand, she holds a lock of her clipped hair like a sign of her sacrifice. In her right hand, she holds the scissors with which she martyred her femininity.
In contrast to her typical self-portraits, she would fill up the canvas with boldness, colourful expressions, elaborateness. Here she purposely minimizes herself in this portrait of gravity and sadness.
The Runaways is a series of ten lithographs based on nineteenth-century advertisements published by slave owners to locate runaway slaves. Ligon asked his friends to write a description of him as if they were reporting a missing person to the police. He then rendered the text in typography that mimicked the original ads and paired them with drawings from newspapers and anti-slavery pamphlets of the time.
Ligon was surprised to find that the descriptions his friends wrote were similar to those from the slave ads. Critics have also commented on how the texts read like accounts of criminal suspects, perhaps a critique of racial profiling by law enforcement.
Warhol made his first paintings of Marilyn Monroe soon after the actor died of a drug overdose in 1962. Monroe’s life combined themes that Warhol was fascinated by; death and celebrity. The repetition of her face reflects the public interest in Monroe’s life and her constant presence in the media. The contrasting canvases illustrate the conflict between a celebrity’s public image and their private selves. Painting the definitive portrait.
Overall these paintings really identify three different self-portraits that are perceived in different perspectives from audiences of the individual to media portrayal. It is very interesting how Frida Kahlo’s self-portrait reinvented her self after realising her lifestyle was not what she wanted anymore longer. Then Glen Ligon’s description from his friends portrayed a black man that sits with a similar text back in history with slavery. This description had been critique as racial profiling in law enforcement. Then you have the public portray of the famous Marilyn Monroe that depicts a different motif and image of the person that brings more fame and recognition in the eyes of others. Much is looked upon past experiences, others’ perception, and people’s creation.
Workshop Challenge – Quadriptych
This week’s workshop ‘Show & Tell’ was to challenge ourselves by questioning Who are you? What is it that you do? Where are you? and Why Design? This was an interesting topic in understanding myself from looking outwards inwards as to who I’m about.
I put together some research into art forms that I found influential in my challenge to help me develop a theme and idea to my outcome. These are historic and contemporary pieces of work I found really interested in Triptych and Quadriptych art forms. The pieces that influence me most was the Andy Warhol, Self Portrait, 1964, and Hans Hillman, 1964 Kieler Woche Poster that attracted me the most in the style. The use of the quad square and the feeling of the blue bring out a confident approach in their pieces.
I’m the father of two boys and my world at times can be chaotic with dinosaurs, lego, and school work. We live in a small town by the coast which is a stone throw away from the beach. So most of the time it’s playful, but hard work with the benefits of the sea.
For the last few years, I’ve been working at a marketing company and worked on various projects from identity design, brochure, digital content, web design and merchandise material. I have a love for type and minimalistic approach about design but most of all bringing out the personality in brands and solving problems. This is a recent branding project I’ve worked on for an electric go-karting company.
Born and bred in East London which is the root of who I am. I now live by the coast with my family as I have 2 energetic boys who keep me on my toes. Living 10 minutes walk from the beach, which is perfect for them to burn their energy off in the summer evenings just before bedtime.
I’m a life long learner for many things, but the design is at the very top of that list as I really enjoy the aesthetics and the narrative that it brings. Melton Glaziers once said:
There are three responses to a piece of design – Yes. No, and WOW!Melton Glaziers
WOW is the one to aim for
That’s the response I give when I enjoy work which is witty, clever and engaging.
This workshop has enlightened me into what reflects me as a person and what design is to me. Graphic Design is significantly valued to me, which I find a career of an enjoyable craft and love the way I’m able to cultivate new forms of ideas in an expressive way. My quadriptych is influenced by my research which stood out for me was the style of Andy Warhol portrait piece. I loved using the colour blue as it symbolise trust, loyalty, and confidence in who I am and in my approach to designing this piece. In saying this I want to show this to my peers to present the nature of me, using in this one component. There are still parts of this piece that I feel is not finish and will note to re-examine my outcome to maybe make it a simpler look and feel. Overall the elements in this design piece have come together to show who, what, where, and why Graphic Design is part of me today.
The introduction of this week I really enjoyed the insight of all the studio’s practice, as they were very inspiring about how they identify themselves. They talked about how their environment really reflects in their work and how change is important to keep refreshing their minds to their design practice as they’re constantly developing themselves. The workshop became a challenge within itself, as I’m not very confident in explaining myself. Saying this it was a great reflection for me as a designer to question my ability as to who, what, and where I am now. This will give me a good sense of how I can grasp every challenge as it comes to keep improving as an individual. I’m looking forward to making changes in my ability and find a way of how I approach tasks to be more experimental in my skills and ideas.
Reading up about many other studio practices has really help me acknowledge different perspectives on how a studio is run. Studio Culture has some great discussion on how effective traits such as space, people, and work within a studio can create a successful domain for a collective of designers. It really interests me in these resources as I’m a keen admire of how people do run and develop a studio practice and want to learn more about this area over time. Something I vision for the future and benefit of this course I can carry forward. Especially if humor and wit are all it takes to create a good studio practice.
This week’s workshop challenge has been absolute fun introducing ourselves to our peers. Overall I feel I went a little too safe in creating this piece and if I had more time I would have thought other ways a quadriptych can be interpreted in a different visual form. More questioning than rather straight to the solution. The strong point of my design I feel is the colour of the blue that’s consistent throughout the piece with a hint of yellow in places. I like to make sure when I work on my next projects I should question how I should display my work.