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INTERESTING TIMES

This page: Gas Mask Smoke Joe Allam, 2011


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Opposite page: Sea Sinead Birmingham, 2012


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This page: Wind Recording Mika Vaajoki, 2012


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This page: Red Smoke Flare Joe Allam, 2011


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Opposite page: Untitled Jake Grear, 2012

This page: Untitled Unknown Artist


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This page: Bubble Gums Lyall Davies, 2012


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15 INTRODUCTION Luke Pendrell & Urjuan Toosy

Graphic design often inhabits and explores the territories that emerge in the spaces between culture and technology and this restless inquisitiveness can be seen reflected here. The broad range and very individual approaches to the subject can be seen in the diversity of work.The modern world, the way it communicates and perceives itself is in a state of profound flux. Political, economic, environmental and social structures all seem suddenly volatile. A time characterised as much by possibilities and opportunities as uncertainties. This in many ways is reflected in dialogues and debates occurring both within the art school environment and design industry in general, expanding to encompass and investigate new approaches that explore and merge the technological, societal, vocational and the personal. Established processes such as letter-press, silkscreen and book binding augment and in some cases merge with work that explores the potential afforded by new media such as digital publishing, moving image, interactive design and even curation. 

INTRODUCTION

Interesting Times is the 20­ 12 UCA Epsom BA (hons) Graphic Design Year book accompanying the Graduate Show of the same name held at the Aubin Gallery in Redcurch street between the 27th of July and 2nd of July. The show featured a collection of multi-disciplinary work by recent graduates.


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16 The theme of the show and publication has increasingly become a way of bringing to light the culmination of ongoing conversations occurring at UCA Epsom referring to the current climate and the culture we live in whilst opening up dialogues between students, designers and academics. Ken Garland explores themes of frugality in design, Erik Kessels discusses the challenges faced by an increasingly democratised design profession and Dr. James Trafford explores notions of a speculative aesthetic in his piece entitled ‘An interesting time for an apocalypse’. Ally Waller charts her quest to witness the elusive transit of Venus, Neil Drabble and Rose Thomas both make observations about the growing studio culture at Epsom in ‘Tabula Rasa’and “Its beginning to smell like an art school.”, Sallyanne Theodosiou meanwhile details the courses professional engagements with competitions live briefs and industry’. One thing is certain times of such flux and fluidity there has never been a greater need for the art school culture, or a more exciting time to be there. As Adrian Shaughenessey who recently accepted an honorary degree form UCA said in our 2012 year book ‘The rest is guess work.’ Interesting times indeed.


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STUDENT WORK

This Page: Planets Tim Harris, 2012


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STUDENT WORK

Opposite page: Landscape Richard Heaven, 2012

This page: Untitled Unknown Artist


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This Page: Subtext: Low Resolution Urjuan Toosy & Justin Devon Moore, 2012


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This page: Subtext: Process Journal Urjuan Toosy & Justin Devon Moore, 2012


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This page: Untitled Jack Young, 2012


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STUDENT WORK

Opposite page: Translation of Line Hannah Dawson, 2012


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This page: Circular Screenprints Laura Heckford, 2012

Opposite page: Duplicate James Devereaux-Ward, 2012


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STUDENT WORK


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This page: Unknown Artists Jade Sibley & Ruth Page, 2012


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This page: Untitled Tim Harris, 2011


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This page: Stereotypical Portrait Tihana Jurčević, 2012


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An interesting time Dr. James

Trafford

for an apocalypse

An impersonal, robotic, mindless, little scrap of molecular machinery is the ultimate basis of all the agency, and hence meaning, and hence consciousness, in the universe.

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Many people have assumed that there is an inherent concordance between human experience and reality; that nature is our home, and that there is a kind of inbuilt harmony between how we experience things and the things themselves. But, if anything is the lesson of the scientific enlightenment, it is this: human life is not inherently meaningful or even valuable. Rather, as Ray Brassier suggests, what science provides us with is a substantive and consistent disenchantment of the world that; ‘deserves to be celebrated as an achievement of intellectual maturity, not bewailed as a debilitating impoverishment.’ This line of thought runs counter to the notion that humans enjoy an exceptional status in the universe, and the assumption that human knowledge and experience might be in some way distinct from the material world. Humans are not, and never have been, at home in the universe. And, far from being standing outside of nature, we are simply material machines that are the products of the contingent processes of evolution. As Daniel Dennett points out;


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One of the most obvious ideas that promotes the funament of the human craving for fully formed narratives and meaning is the idea that our conscious experience of the world is the foundation for our understanding of reality. Our consciousness is supposed to be the place wherein the world can be revealed, consciousness is ‘world-disclosing’ – as phenomenologist Edmund Husserl asserted; ‘the existence of Nature cannot be the condition for the existence of consciousness, since Nature itself turns out to be a correlate of consciousness’. Accordingly, this view emphasizes the perspectival, subjective, and embodied nature of conscious understanding in opposition to the supposedly naïve scientific understanding of the world. But, as science peels away more and more layers of consciousness, we can see that those guarantors for the supposed pre-established harmony between humans and the universe are null and void; neither God, nor Jesus, nor Gaia, nor Consciousness can be appealed to to set us apart from the grinding material machinery that is our basic make-up. (In a cruel irony, the idea that science represents something like the complete destruction of the transcendental value of the human, rather than leaving human value untouched, is something that religious fundamentalists seem to grasp more than most of us!) Our self-understanding, experience, and meaningfulness, are but densely coiled layers of illusion. This is the conclusion of neuroscientist Thomas Metzinger’s thesis that “no such things as selves exist in the world: Nobody ever was or had a self.” The idea that we know who we are, and that our conscious experience is the ultimate ground for truths about reality is simply a hallucination that is a hangover from our evolutionary forbearers. Metzinger sums up the poverty of the human condition; the “puppet shadow dances on the wall of the neurophenomenological caveman’s phenomenal state space.”


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possible to reconceive what we are as something not identical to our brains: brains are the hardware in which (at the moment) a reasoning-structure is centrally realized.

AN INTERESTING TIME...

And, as Mark Fisher asks; “what is more terrifying, a puppet master pulling the strings or the strings fraying off into blind senseless chaos?” This is not the simplistic nihilist claim that there is no meaning. Rather, it is the truths that science outlines that institute in fact the reality that human life is meaningless. That is to say, as the real conditions of the universe are gradually unveiled, our experience is revealed as the layers of illusion and hallucination that it is. Everything is more complicated than visible. And, lest bunkering down in retreat seems plausible, it should be pointed out that the more we understand the brain, the more its plasticity within its cultural (and increasingly digital) context becomes apparent. Given that this context is pervaded by the logic of capitalism, we need a mode of potential neurological resistance to the capitalist subsumption of ever-increasing realms of “private” experience. For example, neuromarketing, as it stands, is confined to external stimuli to manipulate consumer behaviour, but the possibility of the fine-grained manipulation of brain mechanisms seems to be only a matter of time. There are two obvious arenas for such resistance: reason and aesthetics. First; reason. It is perfectly appropriate to delineate “reason” independently of its parochial implementation in the human brain. The liberation of reason from the skull is precisely a first condition of thinking activity in a technological age, wherein memories, cognitive activity and such-like are regularly externalized into computation devices, heuristic search-functions and so on. In this sense, it is


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Second; aesthetics. The New Aesthetic is one movement that has begun the kind of strategy that seems necessary here, developing an aesthetic of the visual objects that help us to represent the inaccessible “experience” of our new technological world-order: Information visualization. Satellite views. Parametric architecture. Surveillance cameras. Digital image processing. Data-mashed video frames. Glitches and corruption artifacts. Voxelated 3D pixels in real-world geometries. Dazzle camouflage. Augments. Render ghosts. And, last and least, nostalgic retro 8bit graphics from the 1980s. (James Bridle) It is all the more pressing to develop a substantive aesthetics of both the effects of digitally-mediated devices on our lived-experience, and also, of the visual imagery that appears to bypass human experience and capability altogether – drone imagery, for example; digitally captured, algorithmically created, algorithmically decoded, and only outputted as manageable data. There is an inaccessible ‘life’ of machines, which has increasing impact on our own aesthetic experience. Developing this aesthetics may engender potential resistance through something like the shock of the incommensurable encounter: an encounter with experiences that are not “for us”. And, ultimately, this “shock” might help to potentiate the release of reason from its tethering to biology. It’s an interesting time for an apocalypse.

Dr. James Trafford lectures in Contextual studies at UCA Epsom


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STUDENT WORK


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This page and previous: Holi Reenactment Rhea Gaughan, Gemma Gerhard, Laura Nevill, Abi Rogers, 2012.


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This page and previous: The Beautiful Game Ben Freeman, 2012


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STUDENT WORK

This page: Is Was & Will Always Be Hannah Dawson, 2011


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This page: Cause and Eect Hannah Dawson, 2012

Opposite page: Buying is Easy Lance de Vries Jr, 2012


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This page and previous: Umbra Volumen Mika Vaajoki, 2012

Opposite page: Umbra Triptych: Tetrahedron Mika Vaajoki, 2012


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STUDENT WORK


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This page: M-O-T-E-L Laura Heckford, 2012


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The Profession’s Democratisation ERIK KESSELS

the most. And this is certainly not a lack of creativity in all cases but much sooner a lack of vision. A professional advertiser’s trump card is his ability to think of a good idea

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Nowadays everybody’s a photographer, website developer, even advertiser. To be sure not all with the same flair and professionalism but it’s a fact that our professions have become accessible to everyone. If you ask someone in the street what he thinks about your last advertisement you stand amazed at the level of professional knowledge the average Dutchman is able to unload on you. Once such knowledge was reserved for advertising agencies but for years they have lacked any differentiating expertise. Terms such as ‘casting’, ‘location scout’ and ‘storyboard’ are now common knowledge so that even your nephew is quite capable of a detailed analysis of your strategy and approach to target groups. The internet has unlocked our profession and made it accessible to a broad section of the population. The gateway is wide open and will likely never be closed again. And it is in this sense that you can speak about a democratisation. Whereas advertising agencies used to shroud the development process in a haze it now all stands exposed to the public eye. The profession has become entirely transparent. Clients, too, are up to speed with the ins and outs of the process and are seldom taken in by pretty imagery or whizzing ideas. This only serves to make the profession more interesting. It is namely less to do with peripheral phenomena and increasingly more about the core issue: a good idea. That ability to create a strong commercial idea is what the millions of ‘enthusiasts’, who now swell our ranks, lack


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and apply it across multiple media and in a variety of formats. This, however, doesn’t mean that as an advertiser you have to remain isolated. On the contrary, it is important to sense what is going on around you. The fact that more and more professions and trades are becoming ‘democratised’ is a tremendous new source of inspiration for us. It’s appropriate we view this as a win-win.

THE PROFESSION’S DEMOCRATISATION

DIVERSITY VS UNIVERSITY The democratisation of all manner of creative professions means the opportunities have greatly increased to switch between them. Today an advertiser is able to be active in a variety of disciplines, even simultaneously. He or she might develop an idea for a film, a TV programme, a product, publication, and so on. Years ago this was much more difficult and, in many instances, even impossible to do. The barriers separating the different professions had been erected high and were vehemently defended. To switch profession amounted to high treason. Now you can engage in a branch of work that is not necessarily your own. Many advertisers perhaps question what benefits these sorties provide. Wouldn’t all that switching around lead to a tainting of the profession and a decline in specialisation? I see cross pollination precisely as being very positive. As an advertiser I actually derive much inspiration from adjoining creative disciplines. They teach you to view your own field differently and to approach your work in a different way. It is disappointing, therefore, that crossovers from the neighbouring disciplines are better understood and more highly valued than from the advertising profession itself. Unfortunately, our profession is often still dominated by opportunism, navel gazing and parochial narrow mindedness. And that is a shame, because I believe our work can be more diverse and exciting than ever before. Our profession outperforms many disciplines and has become so much richer than it used to be. That alone would make it unfortunate


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for us to arrive at a one sided definition of our new way of working. Indeed, personally I have never had a huge problem not wishing be pigeon-holed. ANALOGUE IS THE NEW DIGITAL

ent on it. You even find yourself in a state of panic if the thing ever stops working. Whilst it is precisely then when things gets interesting; suddenly you have to determine your

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After massively embracing and exploring the many digital possibilities of the computer age we are again beginning to see that it doesn’t revolve around the technique but rather the result. In creative professions you continually encounter such undulation. A good example of this was the ascendancy a few years ago of the computer programme ‘Illustrator’. In just about every illustration from that time you can sense the presence of that programme. Many illustrators made so-called ‘Vector’ drawings or processed their work one extra time with this programme. The result missed any authenticity and finally led to a sort of unappetising uniform sausage. Fortunately, that direction of travel was reversed and illustrators saw how limiting the new possibilities actually were. They reverted back to trusted pen and paper and found their individual style again. Now the computer remains a fantastic aid for them but you can no longer tell which programme produced the picture. The computer has taken on a more subservient role and has become less defining. In my opinion authenticity in a creative expression is very important. It gives it the personal touch and creates differentiation with regard to most other forms of expression that daily pass us by like knit work. It forms the heart and soul of an idea. Whether authenticity is applied digitally or in analogue doesn’t matter as long as you strive to be different and find your own voice. Because of ease and the possibilities of many digital aids people often forget there is another, more tactile, side to creativity. You can compare this to SatNav. Such a device is really handy and takes you faultlessly from a to b, but you become increasingly depend-


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own course again and you may likely get lost and be forced to ask someone the way. You will see that such moments lead to fun and unexpected experiences. If you open yourself up to be surprised you sometimes encounter unforeseen little gems which stay with you the rest of your life.

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PROFESSIONAL AMATEURS I regard an amateur as an enthusiast. And an enthusiast is someone with a lot of passion. An amateur usually doesn’t feel the pressure and doesn’t carry the baggage of a professional. Therefore an amateur is often less afraid to every now and again make a colossal mistake. And it is indeed those mistakes that make the work of an amateur so interesting. A finger in front of the lens, failed proportions, crooked compositions, too much light or too dark: the slip ups and candour of an amateur provide me with an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Over the course of time a ‘professional’ develops certain knacks and habits. True, that may result in fewer mistakes but also to fewer surprises and original thoughts. You can agitate this a bit by imitating the behaviour of an amateur. In doing so you unintentionally break certain rules and this allows you to approach a brief in a fresh way again. An advertisement is often so perfect; an ideal world wherein nothing is allowed to be or go wrong. Fortunately, there is now occasionally some room for imperfection to exist within communication outlets. This not only provides a welcome counterbalance to all the uniform perfection but also enhances the believability and authenticity of a message. A professional would do well, therefore, to behave like an amateur a little more often. THE FUTURE OF IDEAS As stressed in the first section, ideas have a bright future. It is the most important ammunition a creative thinker has, perhaps the only one. There are a good number of people without much talent in our profession who spiff up their average ideas with technical aids. Impressive execution rarely


55 conceals the feeble idea behind it. The front garden looks beautiful but the back garden is still a dump. In the first instance it looks substantial but this work will ultimately appear too superficial and have to own up to it. Indeed, the strength of a good idea lies in the fact that it doesn’t need to be dressed up: it is strong enough to be challenged and stand on its own merit. Advertisers should therefore practise developing these kinds of good commercial ideas and rely less on all the bells and whistles available to them. Do away with easiness and strive for originality. To do this you have to develop an inner radar and be continually progressing. And, then just hope that your best idea emerges before the dead-

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Erik kessels is the Creative Director of KesselsKramer publishing

This essay was translated from the Dutch by Lance de Vries Snr.


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BEING FRUGAL:

KEN GARLAND

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A DESIGN OPTION?

(Figure 1)


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his own country, he is highly regarded by his fellow Danes. I saw this haunting work at an exhibition devoted to Hammarshoi at the Royal Academy, London, and shall never forget

BEING FRUGAL

Frugality is not, I suppose, an appetizing or fashionable concept. At its best it can be defined as thrifty, economical, prudent or provident; on the other hand it can be condemned as miserly, niggardly, stingy or close-fisted. There have been occasions in the past when frugality was acceptable, even desirable – the austerity period of post-World War 2, for example – but usually it was something to be avoided when better times came: being frugal was then a negative option.     Well, that’s as may be, as my mother used to say, implying, ‘your negative may be my positive’. And I have to echo her reservation. You see, when you’ve had to be frugal as a matter of necessity, as she did, you discover the virtues of ingenuity, resourcefulness and self-reliance. These are creative impulses and making use of them can be satisfying and enjoyable, even when not essential.     I am going to show here some examples in art, design and architecture, of frugality in action. The first (figure 1) is a poster, ‘Rowntree’s Elect Cocoa’, 1896, by the Beggarstaff Brothers, James Pryde (1866-1941) and William Nicholson (18721949). This, the last published poster by two young painters, was their most restrained in form, colour and lettering. The subject of the advertisement is shown as a small, almost incidental cup of cocoa beside the main figure, who may or may not represent the prominent British politician Charles James Fox (1749-1806).     The second is a painting (figure 2), ‘Interior: young woman from behind’ c1904 by the Danish artist Vilhelm Hammarshoi (1864-1916). Though relatively little known outside


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(Figure 2)

the effect it had on me. When there is so little to see, but what there is, is so lovingly shown, you really do not need anything more. This, to me, is the true virtue of frugality.     In complete contrast, yet to the same effect, here (figure 3) is a painting, ‘Composition with red, yellow and blue’, 1930, by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). Mondrian took frugality of means almost to the ultimate (though not quite: this had already been achieved by the Russian Constructivist, Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) with his totally reductive work, ‘Black square’, c1913, which was just that: a black square centred on a white ground).     The Dutch art and design movement ‘De Stijl’ (The Style), of which Mondrian was a prime exponent, and Constructivism were brought together by the international artist/ designer El Lissitzky (1890-1941), who was a welcome guest in the Netherlands. The cover design (figure 4) for his book, ‘Suprematist story of the two squares’, 1922, clearly inspired by Malevich, is a model for the use of minimum means.


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(Figure 3)

BEING FRUGAL

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(Figure 5)

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private investment was non-existent under the Soviet regime; but there was a well-established tradition of graphic artists of all kinds involving themselves in poster design. One of the most accomplished of these, Henryk Tomaszewski (1914-2005), studied fine art as did so many of his fellows who subsequently devoted themseves to graphic design. Their posters were drawn by hand (usually including their own hand-drawn lettering), without benefit of photography, and the posters were made full scale as though they were painting on an easel. Such simple – and, yes, frugal – means achieved results which became worldfamous. This beautiful example (figure 6), ‘50th Anniversary of the International Union of Puppet Theatres, 1978’ demonstrates the global reach that the Polish School had attained by the 1980s.

BEING FRUGAL

    It is, of course, a truism about advertising that the simple, unadorned message is usually the most powerful and appropriate. There are many examples of this, many of them crude and intrusive, but I want to show you a poster (figure 5), ‘Join the ATS’, 1941, by Abram Games (1914-1996), which is neither crude nor intrusive: it manages to be bold bold and simple but also pleasing and even seductive. Games often quoted his favourite axiom, ‘Maximum meaning, minimum means’ as being the fundamental basis of his design approach. This poster achieves just that.     While on the subject of posters, I have to make reference to the achievements of the Poles. From the end of World War 2, until around 1990, there flourished a most inspiring school of poster designers. Their means were very restricted and their best client was the poverty stricken state, since


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(Figure 7)

    Here is a very different kind of poster (figure 7), ‘Q. And babies? A. And babies’ 1970, by Artworkers Coalition, Jon Hendricks, Irving Petlin and Frazier Dougherty. The designers brought together a photograph by Ronald L Haeberle in Vietnam, 1968, and part of spoken evidence by a soldier who participated in a notorious massacre, to form a most powerful, indeed overwhelming, poster. It has been shown many times since it first appeared and its effect is undiminished by time; such a simple, stark and economical design.     The last example I wish to offer you is a building (figure 8): the Rietveld Schroder House, Utrecht, 1924. Designed as a collaboration between a furniture-maker-turned-architect, Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) and his client, interior-designer Truus Schroder (1889-1985), it is my top nomination for those virtues of ingenuity, resourcefulness and self-reliance I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It is a small, semidetached domestic dwelling on the outskirts of a quiet town in


63 the Netherlands. It really is a small house, unpretentious and simple; yet it is now seen as one of the key contributions to the Modern Movement in Design and Architecture. Not the least of its accomplishments is the way in which so much is made out of so little: indeed, a triumph of frugality. It has now been restored and is open to visitors by appointment. I urge you to take a trip to Utrecht, to see it for yourselves. Note:  Of necessity, the illustrations are reproduced here in monochrome. It would be greatly to your advantage if you looked them up in reference books or online, since the colours would obviously add power to the point I am attempting to make.

BEING FRUGAL

(Figure 8) Ken Garland is a graphic designer and author.


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The LAB was originally developed as part of the ‘Work in Progress Show’ at the Oxo tower in 2010, a participatory event in which the content and form of the exhibition were generated in situ as a response to the environment and the interactions of exhibitors and audience. Since then the LAB has evolved into a series of regularly programmed events in which students and staff participate in experimental workshops, discussions and dialogue. A key characteristic of the LAB is that whilst aligned to and integrated with the curriculum they exist essentially independently. This tactical and temporary autonomy enables the program to question, challenge and re-invigorate itself with a regular input of experimental or alternate modes of delivery and engagement. In this way the LAB has provided healthy challenges to hierarchical expectations with a successful series of student lead sessions, student curated shows and lecture programs. The 24 hour workshops and studio occupancies have opened up fresh interactions with the spaces and facilities, our individual relationships to our work and with each other as a community of practitioners. Since its inception the LAB has proved an exciting and valuable catalyst to new forms of engagement both for students and staff.


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IT’S STARTING TO SMELL LIKE AN ART SCHOOL ROSE THOMAS

Back then in 2010, when I met our current graduates on their first day, I was barely out of my own Graduation robes and into my fresh clean denim apron. The apron tells it’s own story of all the wonderful inky mess we’ve created (and cleaned up) over the years. Never having washed it and donning it for every print session, it’s regularly used to wipe inky hands, spatulas, squeegees, splurges and smudges. I remember the patience and enthusiasm of these new first year students, in the early days we were constantly over-coming problems with screen coating, turning cupboards into dark rooms, and doing countless tests to produce anything close to a reliable process. I quickly noticed that this group of new students relished the unreliable process and constantly worked with the unpredictable, remaining ever positive and chanting their Year One adage “Suspend all judgement” (thanks to the First Year teaching team for that one, it got me out of a lot of scrapes). Rose Thomas runs the Graphic Design print facility as a sessional lecturer.

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I have been a part of Graphic Design at UCA Epsom for the past six years. The first three years as a student, and the last three years working in the Print Area. After graduating I was asked by the Course Leader Luke Pendrell to return and set-up the new Letterpress equipment, which when I turned up on my first day, had grown to include two screen printing beds, an exposure unit and a large etching press ready to install, the beginnings of a new ‘Print Area’.


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Always eager to experience new techniques in workshops, and self directed sessions as well as building screen printing beds at home, finding interesting materials to print with, and trying something new for the shear enjoyment of the experience, they have produced impressive work over the past three years. Along with Alumni of the past two years they have set a president for new students, encouraging them to engage with the facilities and to be involved in their own creative education, sharing knowledge and techniques as well as warning of dodgy landlords and where to find the best parties. The Print Area has been a part of a changing culture in the department, with an emphasis on studio culture, experimentation and process the students graduating this year are open, creative, dedicated experimenters. Building upwards and outwards from a couple of presses in the corner of a studio to a fully flourishing multidisciplinary and ever growing Print Area. The Graphic Design Print Area now houses a large screen printing bed, table top screen printing, a large etching press, two hand lino presses, two small etching press, exposure for photopolymer plates, a Farley proofing press, an Adana press, and a FAG press as well as a collection of both wood and metal letterpress type. These facilities support screen printing, wood and metal type letterpress, photopolymer plate letterpress, lino printing, dry-point etching, embossing, photopolymer photographic intaglio printing. From the beginning the Print Area has allowed students from different year groups to meet each other, working alongside each other for the first time and has given them ownership of a shared physical space. The whole department has adapted to this, with sofas and a library created in the corridor space, open access computers and a permanent studio space created and decorated for, and by, first and second year students. This openness has created a new sense of ownership, collaboration and confidence within the student body. And with the opening of the new building this has spread across to it’s brand new digital and screen printing studios, opening up new processes and spaces to the whole campus, allowing for a wider student body to engage in their shared community.


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Tabula Rasa

Studios are learning environments, pedagogical ‘tools’, but their multi-purpose roles demand a certain democratic neutrality, designed to suit all uses where everything is in a constant state of temporariness. A democratic environment however is an un-differentiated space that represents stasis and conformity, regulated and regularised, it becomes ‘average’ space promoting a neutral passive reaction. Consequently nothing is ever permanently on display, and apart from group crits or tutorials, the walls are a ‘blank canvas’ with no visual evidence of student creativity at all. Visual stimuli are essential for creativity, and an environment filled with work acts as a ‘mood board’, a frame of reference, orientating where the students are physically, artistically and psychologically. The peripheral, tangential, abstract transmission of visual imagery can be a very powerful drip-feed of stimuli, a subliminal reinforcement, a leaking osmosis of ideas feeding the brain. The students become surrounded by the ‘tools’ of their trade, powerful visual aides to learning and reflective practice, creating the possibilities of abstract connections to be recognised that would be otherwise un-discovered, hopefully leading to deeper forms of reflection. If the work is never able to be present for extended periods, how can the students ever properly reflect on it? By creating democratic environments intended to be ‘fit for all’, the studios are merely spaces not places. Having no specific place to ‘be’, the students become nomadic learners, drifting through a succession of impersonal, un-differentiated, liminal spaces that have the look and feel of nothing more than waiting rooms or departure lounges. Extract from: Being There: Space, Place and Communities of Practice within Higher Education Fine Art Institutions. Neil Drabble, 2011.

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Neil Drabble


TABULA RASA

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THE TRANSIT OF VENUS: Adventure and romance in the bedroom – as it “Happened.”

ALLY WALLER

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The transit of Venus only happens once in a lifetime and is one of the most celebrated astrological events. It happens in pairs around every 120 years, (fig 01).

(FIG 01)


102 The movement of Venus across the sun was first discovered by Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639 near Manchester, England. The next pair of transits to be observed happened in 1761 and 1769. At this time hundreds of astronomers were watching.

THE TRANSIT OF VENUS

It was the first time astronomers would have the opportunity to measure accurately the size of the solar system (fig 03) - discovering we are in a solar system, which is inside a galaxy, which is inside a cluster of galaxies.

(FIG 02)

(FIG 03)

(FIG 04)

The next set of transits, were communicated through rapid communication such as the telegraph enabling accounts throughout the world to be published in newspapers arriving at the breakfast table. One of the first photographs was taken in 1882, (fig 02). Before this diagrams were one of the only ways to visualize the spot glide over the sun (fig 03) or to see it with your very own eyes (fig 04).


103 On the 6th June 2012 my alarm went off at 5.30am as I was eager to see this event with my own eyes. What will they discover now? Will Venus make it across the sun? What will this mean for planet earth? Will gravity break down and will it fall into the sun? Will we fall into the sun? It was to be a pure Hollywood blockbuster witnessed with my own eyes. 

(FIG 05)

INTERESTING TIMES

I looked through my bedroom window out at the sky only to find, grey, overcast, drizzle (fig 05). Feet were still firmly on the ground (fig 06). Not at all what I had romanticized in my mind, which would of course have been viewed using a Camera Obscura. The event beamed live into the room so that I could make some stencils of the real. (fig 07).

(FIG 06)

(FIG 07)


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THE TRANSIT OF VENUS

My head back on my pillow - I contemplated on how far we have come since Cook crossed the ocean; battled with Siberia to set up observation stations in the new world, the East Indies and the Arctic. Astronomers including Captain Cook, died at the time of the first transit because of war and disease at sea (fig 08).

(FIG 08)

Trying not to choke on my Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, effortlessly I turned on my lap top, clicked on a link, and was able to observe the transit through a more visible window even if it wasn’t the actual real experience that I had hoped for. I found that NASA had Satellites in space beaming live video down to the ground. But another visible grey fuzzy matter occurred, this time because of popularity. I was denied access due to there being many billions of observers accessing the site to view it through the safe filter of the computer screen.


105 I quickly switched to Google images. The sun was evidently the ultimate canvas, and all lenses were on it as Venus elegantly glided across it. Framed by observers around the globe and instantly beamed up live onto the web (fig 09). How up to date is this? Did someone Photoshop that? Is this real? Was the image one that someone made earlier? My fascination and wonder was lost, deflated by being unable to experience the event for real and saturated with the impact of the instant imagery.

(FIG 09)

(FIG 10)

INTERESTING TIMES

Instead, I closed my eyes to find a dark outer space and contemplate new scientific discoveries. May be we are not alone after all? Whether we witness this with our own eyes or not is another matter (fig 10).

Ally Waller lectures in Graphic Design at UCA Epsom


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STUDENT WORK

This page: Tom Hagarty, 2012


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This page: Habitat Fragmentation Russell Beswick, 2012


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STUDENT WORK

This page: Untitled Jeremy John Wilson, 2012


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This page: Car-Cal Ricky Byfield, 2012.


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STUDENT WORK

This page: Michael Speed, 2012


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This page: Home Sweet Home Chloe Anderson, 2012


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STUDENT WORK


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INTERESTING TIMES

This page: Caterham Jeremy John Wilson, 2012


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This page: Untitled Tim Harris, 2011


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STUDENT WORK


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STUDENT WORK

This page and previous: Deconstruction James Devereaux-Ward, 2012


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STUDENT WORK


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STUDENT WORK

This page & previous: Untitled illustrations Jake Grear, 2012


124 COURSE ACTIVITIES SALLYANNE THEODOSIOU

TABULA RASA

COMPETITIONS We encourage students to take advantage of the exciting potential in various industryrelated competitions open to undergraduates, and – as two examples – our course has a strong past record of winners in both RSA and D&AD. An involvement in these challenges means that diverse skills can be tested within ‘live’ briefs judged by professionals and individuals can align themselves to career directions they may follow after graduation. Another rewarding link we have sustained – for ten years – is with PaperCo’s ‘Brief Encounters’ competition, involvement with which comes in the 2nd Year of our course. Students visit the London offices of this respected company for briefings and discussion, and return to present the resulting concepts and receive critical feedback in due course. The chance to convert theory into practice is vital to a deeper understanding of the role of the designer, and this particular competition also expresses the respect our course holds for traditional processes and materials, in this case the medium of paper as part of communication. In competition with other universities, students can look to the future of their own creative practice, while developing collective concepts with their peers. The 2010/11 winners – presented with their Awards at BAFTA in London – were as follows: Gold Award Winners: Tin Siong Ngan and Kirsty Wells Silver Awards Winners: Emma Wilkinson-Avis and Yurina Okamoto Laura Heckford, Urjuan Toosy, Mika Vaajoki, and Justin Devon Moore Bronze Awards: Charlotte Bryan and Stephanie Bottez, Christopher Davis and Moemena Hezwani Highly Commended Award: Jade Sibley and Ruth Page

INDUSTRY LINKS Graphic Design needs good team-working skills, because working with others productively is the essence of so much professional practice. Whether it is with a client, a printer, illustrator, photographer, programmer or other fellow professional, the aspiring graphic designer needs to be able to communicate and negotiate effectively and with respect for the skills of others. The course at Epsom provides a myriad of opportunities for students to work with peers across all years - and also tutors – in the development and expansion of their working practices. Indeed, the tutorial team all have their own practice-based work in addition to their teaching, with significant experience ranging across the creative fields from the arts to graphics and other design disciplines. For example, students embrace the expertise of bookbinding and traditional –analogue – skills bases (including print processes like letterpress) as well as the most current digital practices. They may even produce work that combines them in unexpected, hybrid ways. Underlying the whole course philosophy is the importance of what motivates the designer and their choices; not just the ‘what?’ and the ‘how?’ but also the ‘why?’ of the matter. What do they want to say in their work? Visiting lecturers also come from industry to enlarge the student experience and provide further ‘fresh voices’. This year the extra-curricular evening lectures arranged by the course have been varied and entertaining. Colin McHenry from Centaur Publishing talked about how to find work in that area as either a designer or illustrator. Zoe Bather from Studio 8 spoke about setting up the studio and how personal work can provide opportunities for future collaborations. Paul Antonio provided a live demonstration using the history of letters to show his work as a scribe; and past course graduate Becky Chilcott examined the similarities and differences highlighted by both her experiences as a designer for Random House Publishers and now as a Freelancer. Two particular highlights were the talks given by Patrick Burgoyne, Editor of Creative Review – considering trends and issues in magazine publication and the creative industry – and an un-missable evening during which our 3rd years interviewed industry legend Michael Wolff, one of the founders of the globally-influential Wolff Olins Agency.


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A recent example of this occurred when – for the second year in a row –students curated the American Type Directors Club (TDC) exhibition, held at the London base of the JWT Advertising Agency and used by the Typographic Circle to start its season of events. This offered diverse challenges, not least being the creation of a distinctive and visually-enticing exhibition, to standards that would match the discerning tastes within an influential advertising agency. The excitement of decision-making on site and to a very tight deadline, employing editing skills in regards to the material supplied, tested team skills in very realistic ways, while mirroring the constant emphasis placed on individual responsibility by our course. Once the experience of putting the show together was complete, the curation team were then able to meet and talk with

Sallyanne Theodosiou lectures in Graphic Design at UCA Epsom

the wide range of professionals invited to the opening night, stressing the social aspect of the creative industries in the best way possible; a chance to talk and exchange ideas in friendly surroundings. Confidence builds for undergraduates when early industry contacts are made like this, and the benefits of working well together for a collective aim set things up well for the creation of their traditional final year course show.

INTERESTING TIMES

LIVE BRIEFS As well as competitions – and the experience of live briefs set and critiqued by professionals – there are other strands within our course that offer experience of the reality of industry responsibilities. These, as with our many other on-site ‘workshop’ events throughout the year, allow interested students to elect to take part in extracurricular activities.


126 BA (HONS) GRAPHIC DESIGN Graphic Design influences every aspect of people’s lives and communicates a multitude of messages through a multitude of media. From the commercial, radical, political, religious, scientific or intensely personal, visual design helps us cross the road, buy products or services, prevent the spread of illness and challenge injustice. Throughout history this practice has had a profound effect on the development and exchange of global culture and carries enormous power and responsibility.

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This course is conceptually driven, practice based and student focused. You gain not only an understanding of the core graphic languages, techniques and processes, but also the emerging audiences for them. You are guided by a tutorial team of current practitioners with extensive professional experience, as well as renowned visiting speakers, studio lecturers and varied experts who contribute to our workshop culture. You are encouraged to find a distinctive voice, adding to and refining your skills while reviewing your progress through discussion and personal blogs. The calibre of our students speaks for itself: we have a track record of winners in prestigious competitions including Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Design & Art Directors Awards (D&AD).

You will have access to a fully-equipped computer studio with Macs and PCs programmed with the latest industry-standard design software, including CS5.Our brand new and fully equipped technical resources includeScreenprinting, letterpress, Book-binding, intaglio facilities, Photographic studios with a darkroom and digital processing equipment. Our media stores provide free access to a comprehensive range Digital and analogue SLR and VCR cameras. For more information please visit: http://www.gdnm.org For a full course overview and application details: http://www.ucreative.ac.uk/ba-graphic-design/overview


127 COLOPHON Designed, Art Directed & Edited by Ben Branagan and Luke Pendrell. Copy editing: Mike Nicholson Design assistance: Urjuan Toosy, Justin Devon Moore & James Deveraux Ward. All photography where not otherwise credited: Justin Devon Moore, James Deveraux Ward & Tom Haggarty Website design: Mika Vaajoki, Michael Speed & Joe Allam. http://interestingtimes.gdnm.org/ The Interesting Times exhibition was held at the Aubin Gallery 28th June- 3rd July 2012 Exhibition curation: Neil Drabble, Luke Pendrell, Mark Povell, Rose Thomas, Ruth Page, Jade Sibley, Russel Bestley, Richard Heaven and Kat Sullivan Exhibition Design: Tom Haggarty, Urjuan Toosy, James Deveraux ward, Justin Devon Moore.

All Epsom support teams especially: Andy Dinnage, Tim Hinton, Di McCourt, Mike Rymer, Martin Satchel, James Stevens, Liz Wilson, Vibeke Luther, Valentina Elizabeth & Amanda Fairbrother. Special thanks to: G.F.Smith, Ken Garland, Erik Kessels, Lance De Vries Senior, Calum Mackenzie, Ian Parker, Ben Stopher, Neville Rolt and Martin O’Neil Printed By Synergie Group Cover stock kindly supplied by GF Smith Published by Cut-It-Out Press ISBN 978-0-9553168-3-8 Š2012

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With Thanks to all the Graphic Design Academic staff team including: Sophie Beard, Mike Billam, Jane Cradock-Watson, Neil Drabble, Sallyanne Theodosiou, Rose Thomas, Melissa Thompson, Liz Mason, Mark Povell, James Trafford, Ally Waller, Bev Whitehead and Brian Whitehead.


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EPILOGUE MIKE NICHELSON

Mike Nicholson lectures in Graphic Design at UCA Epsom



Interesting Times