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Jul 10, 2007

Comments

Jonathan

I started a comment that turned into something a bit longer as you sparked off a rant that's been festering in me for a few years now. So I put it on my blog rather than impose it on you ;-)

It's here if anyone's interested: http://jonathanbaldwin.blogspot.com/2007/07/student-shows-in-london-what-point.html

TomLR

Is that young William in the last shot ?

N Miller

I've thought about this a bit having been through these shows again this year. The reason why these shows are so disappointing is the fact that they are showing graphic design in a fine art setting thereby removing the context of which the design is supposed to exist in. Inevitably the work looks painstakingly self-conscious and is overall devoid of depth and meaning. Not to say that fine arts student shows are any better but I would say that there seems to be a trend towards making graphic design students straddle the line between 'self-initiated' art and commercial expectations which tends to rob it of any impact. Not to mention the lack of seeing much of anything that looks like it was touched by hand.

John Dodds

They could always have blogs to reveal their thinking and their personalities and all their work. Or is that too obvious?

Jonathan

"there seems to be a trend towards making graphic design students straddle the line between 'self-initiated' art and commercial expectations which tends to rob it of any impact. Not to mention the lack of seeing much of anything that looks like it was touched by hand."

You've identified something that is definitely there and that I've been looking into for a while.

Ironically this is often down to commercial influence on courses. In my research I've found a lot of tutors who come in from industry (most do, incidentally - it's a myth this 'out of touch academic') push students towards either a non-commercial outcome (graphic art, essentially) or an overly commercial one, and so you see very polarised portfolios and confused students.
I see this more on courses where the teachers are from small design firms or self-employed, where they can pick and choose their clients. They carry that philosophy over in to what they expect from students.

It's a lot more complicated than that (and more nuanced) and there are interesting sociological explanations for it (it's a research interest of mine and I could bore you for hours!) but suffice to say the trend you see at shows is also self-replicating. People go to D&AD, see what wins or gets the crowds, try to copy it, before you know it all the stands look the same.

I remember about six or seven years ago I took my students to New Designers and we'd been heavily pushing sketchbooks etc. Because of problems that year, few students had 'finished' pieces so we made do with lots of drawings, rough ideas, piles of sketchbooks etc etc and hoped for the best. Our show buzzed (we also had a couple fo students who had pushed screen printing to its limits before the college got rid of the equipment).

The following year, lo and behold, our 'theme' (ha ha) had been taken up by quite a few others. I'm not sure we started it, may just have stumbled upon it through adversity, but it was clear that there are ripples in what is thought to be 'show standard'.

People also hang on the words of 'experts'. If famous designer X says off the cuff 'students' photography skills are poor' you'll find the next year that everyone's showing off their photography. Or illustration. Or copywriting. Or whatever. I wish people would keep their mouths shut, quite frankly ;-)

John: we try to get students to blog or keep journals and where it works it's great. But the reason they work is because they're semi-private. Once people know their stuff is going to be read it becomes less revealing and reflective. They could set up a 'show blog' but would that be any more efficient than just talking to them? It's an interesting idea, though, and maybe it should be suggested to the organisers.

But I think D&AD, like the RSA (if they still do this) should take students' thinking and reflection (i.e. their learning rather than their performing) into account when judging. More 'design' and less 'art direction' maybe?

Will

Tom - no, it's not me. Being a tall lampshade at a design show isn't my bag.

Whomever it is does it well though.

John Dodds

Ben - you might not want to do this and I understand that in advance, but it would be interesting to know what it was about the 9 you selected that caused them to stand out. Maybe you could do a post about them after they've been through the Stukeley Street experience - would educate us mortals out here and give them a further platform.

Marcus

It looks a little bit like a trade fair. How horrible for everyone involved.

John has an interesting point. When the TDC gang go to this, do you have some kind of mental "shopping list" for the kind's of stuff you're looking for, or do you go wanting to be "surprised"?

caroline panico

are they too young? or too hopefull? it does beg the same old question ref misery/abject poverty/ addiction to mind altering substances/ heartbreak equalling creativity? maybe life breeds a different outlook (you notice I said different). This said, life also breeds lots of things which dont help the creative process my personal annoyance is space to think....the older yoou get the more scrunchy your brain gets...perhaps in seniority this is releived again like my Granny who thinks coat hooks are knives stuck in the back of the door, or when she believes wholeheartedly Poirot is in her bedroom being filmed...the other end of the spectrum is my 6 y/o revelling in the fact his older brother has arse-burgers syndrome....life throws a load of stuff at you....

caroline panico

are they too young? or too hopefull? it does beg the same old question ref misery/abject poverty/ addiction to mind altering substances/ heartbreak equalling creativity? maybe life breeds a different outlook (you notice I said different). This said, life also breeds lots of things which dont help the creative process my personal annoyance is space to think....the older yoou get the more scrunchy your brain gets...perhaps in seniority this is releived again like my Granny who thinks coat hooks are knives stuck in the back of the door, or when she believes wholeheartedly Poirot is in her bedroom being filmed...the other end of the spectrum is my 6 y/o revelling in the fact his older brother has arse-burgers syndrome....life throws a load of stuff at you....

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