Back in June this year, the International Eurovision Song Contest fan club – Organisation Générale des Amateurs de l’Eurovision put out a call to graphic designers across the world. Quite rightly they had identified that their ageing logo was no longer fit for purpose and something more dynamic and flexible was required.
For the last few years now I’ve been delivering an annual lecture, just like The Queen. Mine are a bit more down to earth though and I don’t get as many people eager to hear my pronouncements. Nevertheless, it has become something of an annual routine and in my previous post I outlined a little of what I’ve been up to at Edinburgh University recently lecturing about design there.
This time three weeks ago, I was in Edinburgh speaking at a symposium devoted to critically exploring the influence, impact and legacy of Grace Jones as actor, model, musician, entertainer and icon. It was hosted by Edinburgh University’s College of Art and was the second in an ongoing international series devoted to exploring the topic of ‘the iconic’, Grace Jones followed last year’s acclaimed Pet Shop Boys symposium where once again, academics and enthusiasts from across the world gathered for a series of keynote talks and films that examined different facets of Jones’ life and work.
Can graphic design save your life?
Last week I was in London for a few days and made a special trip to see the latest exhibition of The Wellcome Collection entitled Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? I’d read about the exhibition and because of the nature of what I do, it was an obvious draw. My answer to the question is an emphatic Yes! Graphic design can save lives. The exhibition goes on to show many of the creative and ingenious ways that design has been used over the years to distil complex information into a public friendly package.
Red Frame/White Light
One of the wonderful things about the experimental electronic music of the late 1970s and early 1980s was just how wonderfully absurd some of subject matter was. In a bid to discard with the past and all its rock and pop clichés, virtually anything made for an acceptable lyrical theme. In many ways this made perfect sense; if one was using the cutting edge equipment of the day to beckon an impending digital future, it would be inappropriate to marry a tune to anything as mundane as another boy meets girl narrative.
History in the making
Liverpool has always been a great place for history – there’s quite a story to tell and the many museums we have, do it with aplomb. For a relatively small city, we’ve got more than our fair share of these great places. I vividly remember visiting Liverpool Museum as a kid and being amazed by it. As an art student, I remember regularly visiting the Walker Art Gallery and spending hours staring at those massive oil paintings and the contemporary works that would always enthral as the John Moores Painting Prize made its regular splash every couple of years. Then we got our very own Tate Gallery in 1988 and I knew I’d never have to move to London! I became a Tate member very early on and even met a ‘blind date’ in the café there, it was a disaster in case you were wondering (the date, not the early days of Tate Liverpool, they were fantastic).
Still infected after all these years
I went to London last week to see a rare screening of Matt Johnson’s 1986 video epic – ‘Infected’. I haven’t been to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) since the early 1990s, so it was good to be back. We arrived just in time, after getting a bit lost, and my memories of this film didn’t disappoint.
Vinicius and Tom
The 2016 Olympics is coming to an end this weekend, in Rio. I’m not a big fan of sports in general, but it’s hard not to be seduced by the spectacle of it all, particularly when your home country manages to exceed all expectations. As one of the millions of spectators of this worldwide event, it’s always interesting to see how design is used as a tool to promote, package and visually harmonise a huge global event.
The ins and outs of it all
Well, the day is almost upon us. The UK gets to decide its future in the European Union tomorrow. I started off about 70% leaning towards Vote Remain, the uncertainty of the alternative wasn’t something that I could comfortably reconcile. As with anything I’m unsure of, I did some reading – a lot of reading, actually. I appreciate that facts will always come with a degree of bias, depending on what filter we choose to view them through, but it didn’t take long for me to move that extra 30% to a unanimous decision.
Colour to die for
Recently in the UK, all cigarette packaging brands have been stripped of their alluring design. Big Tobacco has always worked with top creative agencies across the world on lucrative deals to promote smoking in clever and creative ways. Times have become increasingly tough though for those who still choose to smoke themselves to death, as their weapon of choice has been gradually edged into the fringes of invisibility.