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DESIGNER As

Collector Of the Physical & Visual, of Knowledge, Wisdom & Ideas.

By Theo Inglis


The artist is by necessity a

collector he accumulates

things with the same

ardor & curiosity with which a boy

stuffs his pockets Paul Rand

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Designer as Collector


You can’t stop looking at things through your designer eyes.

Every thing you do is clouded by this thing

THAT LIVES INSIDE YOU

Ben Terrett “The delight of wit arises from unusual and unexpected observations” Ivan Chemayeff

“Not everything is design. But design is about everything. So do yourself a favour: be ready for anything.” Michael Bierut

“design is a way of life. A point of view” Paul rand

“Some times I sort through my mental archive, up pops a card and that’s it” Alan Fletcher

“memories are all stored; the brain is an astonishing filing system” Mary Lewis

“Design is not a thing you do. It’s a way of life,” Alan Fletcher

Theo Inglis

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COL LEC TOR 3

n the modern digital world the

I role of the graphic designer is

probably better understood than ever before, but I often find that many people misunderstand what it’s really like to be a designer. Online you can come across a multitude of humorous pieces about graphic designers, often portraying them as obsessive geeks. Maybe it can hold a bit of truth, but generally it builds into a negative picture and leaves people imagining that designers are constantly on the hunt, with eyes peeled, ready to spot bad kerning, Comic Sans or uses of Arial rather than Helvetica. The Internet does however give a glimpse into ways that designers really see the world, as magpies always looking for visual stimuli. On Flickr I

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Designer as Collector


can see the ephemera David Pearson is collecting ( 2 ), or the found type Anthony Burrill is photographing ( 3+4 ) with Instagram and Tony Brook’s favourite modernist posters ( 1 ) on Twitter. It’s not hard to tell that these collections and hobbies feed into their work. It’s not just the visual that designers collect, every brief will require research, and the best thing to do is to fill your head with as much on the subject as you possibly can. For a graphic designer it’s beneficial to mentally collect from a wide and varied range of sources, giving a bigger pool of general knowledge to draw from for the next brief, whatever it may be.

It is often photography that gives the best insight into the world through the eyes of a graphic designer. I’ve seen a trend across many of the lectures I’ve watched, such as Jim Sutherland of Hat-Trick, Marina Willer of Pentagram and illustrator Mr. Bingo ( 5+6 ). It is best typified by the weekly picture ( 7,8+9 ) on Daniel Eatock’s website. What’s clear is that many designers carry a camera with an eye out for a certain kind of photo, a snapshot of the unexpected, capturing something funny or witty, interesting combinations or juxtapositions, little things that make you smile yet other people might have missed. I think this reveals the designer as someone always looking for something engaging with a little more depth than

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the purely superficial, and this becomes almost an addiction, engrained from the time spent doing it in the pursuit of solving a brief. Designers are naturally collectors, be it of the physical and visual in books, on paper or on blogs. Designers are collectors of knowledge and insight found through research, experience and a generally inquisitive mind. But most of all, designers are collectors of ideas and wit, and channel what they’ve found into their work. Designers are the observant, constantly collecting what they see in the world, simply because it has become natural for them to notice it.

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Theo Inglis

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S

econd hand books have long been my thing. Books are what I collect, and always have an eye out for. Often bought for their covers; visually interesting or by notable designers (usually both), for the illustrations and sometimes even for what’s inside! When on the hunt for books, I like to know I’m getting something interesting and difficult to find,

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My Vintage Book ColLection usually for hardly any money at all. I rarely have a specific title in mind, I just wait to see what catches my eye. It’s always a plus to spot something recognisable or particularly interesting to me. The thrill is in hunting for who designed the cover, hoping to see a famous name or one that will at least ring a bell. There is a special thrill in

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coming across a book full of unrecognised illustrations and researching the artist to see if they are iconic or obscure. Are they loved online or lost in the past? Being a bibliophile is not an obsession, it’s not expensive or time consuming. From time to time I just fancy trying my luck in a second hand bookstore, excited by what I might find.

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Designer as Collector


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You might find me at a flea market buying David Gentleman’s first book cover ( 1 ), an iconic Penguin crime cover by Romek Marber ( 2 ) or a classic on advertising ( 3 ) all for just a pound each!

discovered British illustrators from the 1950’s ( 4+6 ) and a London A-Z from the same era ( 8 ). Walking down the street I’ve spotted the distinctive Penguin orange ( 9 ) amongst a pile of dog-eared paperbacks.

In charity shops I’ve picked up work by icon Saul Bass ( 5 ) and typographic master Jan Tschichold ( 7 ). Amongst the rows of bookshelves I’ve

The best thing is that books can be loved, shared and inherited, much like some of my favorite books ( 10 ) have been.

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Theo Inglis

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You can see more pictures from my collection on flickr at; www.flickr.com/photos/theoinglis/

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www.theoinglis.co.uk blog - theoinglis.tumblr.com

Designer as Collector  

Article written and designed by me, as part of BA Graphic Design at NUCA 2012

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