in conversation / design graduates

By Tom Eckersley, who started the first undergraduate graphic design course in Britain at LCP in 1954.

I took part in this conversation that happened at LCC today, it's supposed to be published in Creative Review in June but who knows what will happen. It had the subtitle of "positioning" ourselves as designers, and life after university.

There were about 20 of us students in the third year of "graphic and media design" at LCC, from all pathways: (which means classes) advertising, typo/graphics, information design, illustration and interactive design (last one's where I'm from.) There was also Jonathan Ellery from Browns Design and Joshua from Provokateur together with tutors Sarah Temple and Anna Gerber.

It was interesting to talk about design-related issues round a table, although I got a bit frustrated about the limited nature of the discussion at times. There seemed to be a notion that boundless conceptual creativity is confined within education, and the industry is where one works for the man and is a mere implementer, under the thumb of an art director. Binary dumbness! Eventually this got dismissed, as it is clear that there is a messiness /diversity /ambiguity of roles emerging from a design education background. Which is pretty exciting.

There was a lot of talk initially about magazines, which made me angry in one of those volcano ways. I think I said something like "why are we talking about this? Design magazines are redundant*, piles of paper to be thrown away, concerning themselves with stroking egos and the design we should be discussing is what we see around us in our daily life." * Apart from Dot Dot Dot, I added at a later point.

Yeah I can get a bit righteous in these kinds of conversations ... oh well. But there was some good talk about problem solving, research strategies and striking a balance between practical / conceptual skills at college. I mentioned the typographic quiz in Paris, how we should all be instilled with THE RULES regardless of whether we use them or not. The designers imparted their wisdom: Joshua talked about love, having to love design. Jonathan talked about maintaining criticality and curiosity. Sarah thinks the new generation of graduates are multidisciplinary and Anna thinks the UK has a healthy, irreverent, thriving, somewhat DIY design scene. The conversation concluded with Jonathan saying that he was flabbergasted, because he thought we be a bunch of wannabe superstars. Ha! He has to go to other design schools for that attitude, I reckon.


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