Communicate: Independent Graphic Design since the Sixties
Barbican / London (with Graphic Design Students)
Rick Poynor & Ken Garland / 6.30pm Wednesday 27th October / 2004

This talk was an overview by the curator, Rick Poynor, on his reasons for selecting the work that made the Communicate Exhibition at the Barbican in London.
Rick made no apologies for the absence of ‘major agency work’ but celebrated the fact that the exhibition spent greater efforts sourcing ‘independent’ work. He referred to the ‘Graphic Authorship’ of such work created by the likes of John Sewell and Bruce Lacey (Everybody’s Nobody, opening sequence from 16mm black-white film, 1960) and Katie Hepburn’s design for ‘The Brand New Monty Python Bok’, 1973, with its beautiful stain!

Rick pointed out that many independent Graphic Designers had been ‘overlooked’ in favour of the glossy big brand competition winners. Barnie Bubbles (X in Search of Space by Hawkwind, 1971) and Martin Sharp (‘OZ’ magazine no. 7, 1967) were typical examples. All of these samples backed up his argument that it is worthwhile digging deeper than the D&AD awards to find the best Graphic Design.

Ken Garland reinforced this by celebrating the work of 10-year-old Kirsty who lives on his street and likes to put her hand in wet cement and scroll her name in the middle! This mark was beautiful to Ken and made the audience think beyond the
‘big awards’.

The comments that Rick and Ken make solidify the curriculum that we offer students on our HND/C Graphic Design Courses. Ideas generation and independent thought are central to the student experience.

Ken Garland graduated from the Central School in London
in the early 1950s. As well as having his own business he was editor of Design magazine and published numerous books on Graphic Design. Ken taught me briefly at the University of Ulster wherehe was visiting Lecturer and wrote parts of my Visual Communication Degree.
Rick Poynor is author and editor of many Graphic Design texts in the UK and recent author of ‘No More Rules’ Graphic Design and Postmodernism, Laurence King Publishing 2003. Rick also founded eye magazine in 1990.


    © Paul Glennon 2004