We pass it on
11th September 2019
In the words of Dave Grohl, I’ve got another confession to make.
I don’t like the term graphic design. (That last bit’s mine, not Dave’s…).
For me it often conjures up visions of the ‘draw a logo and print it on 50,000 leaflets for us to distribute’ kind of graphic design that businesses all over the world commission when they feel they should probably do some marketing. The ‘one-stop-shop’ kind where images, colours and words are combined quickly and billed cheaply. The accessible and simple kind that could be (and regularly is) knocked up by anyone with a computer and some kind of desktop publishing software. The commoditised kind that offers little in the way of added value.
Images I could do. Add words and you’ve got graphic design, right?
Is that what the world sees when we say graphic design? For a large proportion, yes. I find it frustrating because, despite the similarities, the design I wish the world saw is different.
So, what is graphic design?
When I started studying graphics at Higher Education level following my A-Levels, I had come from a fine art background. Graphics seemed like a great choice for someone with creative tendencies but who wanted to get a job. Images I could do. Add words and you’ve got graphic design, right?
That was my mindset and it remained, reinforced by low level critique and a lack of motivation and insight, for three years of study. Until I left that college and began a top up year at another, that is.
As I arrived into the third year of a degree course elsewhere, I realised my new course mates had spent the past two years studying something with the same name but that felt so different. So much deeper. More thought-provoking, more relevant, more exciting and so much more difficult! They’d been introduced to an industry full of behemoths – The Partners, Pentagram, Minale Tattersfield, Landor and many others. I’d never had so much inspiration to choose from. Truth be told I’d never realised there was an industry…
Being good for design
Since starting my own business in 2010 I’ve always strived to not only create good design, but to be good for design in whatever way I could. One of the joys is that for every piece of mind-blowing design by one of these iconic agencies, there are always equally brilliant examples from smaller indie agencies, studios and even solo designers. It’s not about company size and decades of accolades, it’s about seeing yourself as a part of the industry and setting out your stall to contribute to it in whatever way you can.
…it’s about seeing yourself as a part of the industry and setting out your stall to contribute to it in whatever way you can.
Our plan for Upshot isn’t to become a huge international consultancy with offices in New York, London, Singapore and Paris. It is, however, to remain in touch with what’s going on in the design world. It is to be generous with any experience we can pass on. It is to be positive and build strong relationships with other designers, colleges/universities and businesses. It is to be practically involved in amazing local communities and movements like Plymouth Design Forum, Digital Plymouth and University of Plymouth’s Design Society.
It is to do our best to do things in the right way, acting in a way that shows the right kind of design to the world.
Because, as the aforementioned Minale Tattersfield say on their site, “Being part of the international design community means contributing to the richness and diversity of industry ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’”.
Written by Owen