Students from Graphic Design recently attended the reknowned AGI conference in London.
AGI stands for Alliance Graphique Internationale. It unites the world’s leading graphic designers in a professional gathering of common interest and intent. Membership is by invitation only: to be a member is to be judged ‘a person of influence and importance nationally and internationally’ by existing members.
AGI was founded in 1954. Past members have included Cassandre, Josef Müller-Brockmann and Paul Rand. Current members include Wim Crouwel, Massimo Vignelli, Paula Scher and Marian Bantjes.
AGI members have been collectively responsible for the design of many of the world’s top corporations and institutions, as well as for countless examples of globally known publications, illustrations and posters. And they are also responsible for providing teaching in many of the best design schools in the world.
For the first time the AGI conference came to London, so we took a visit with the students and this is what they had to say about their experience.
The talk that stood out for me was Marion Deuchars. I love how open she was when talking about her and her approach to work. She spoke about how she draws inspiration from sculptur Rosalie Gascoigne who started her art career when she was 56 years old, because Rosalie took up her work at that age that Marion feels that her best is still around the corner. She spoke openly about having doubts when working on her own personal projects and that a lot of her work is based on confidence and that she has to believe in what she is doing.
Marion said when she has confidence “It is like a flow it is fantastic I knows when to stop I know when to finish.” But she also spoke about time when she doe not have confidence- “Other times I feel that I am rubbish, I am a fraud”. I loved how open she was when talking about her work and how she felt when things were not working out for her.
As a student I am still trying to find the best ways to express myself visually, However I found that this talk has help in my approach as a designer to found my own individual way of designing and to not be afraid of experimenting.
AGI open, where egos match up and barriers are pushed! This year London was home to some of the best, and well-known designers from around the world. From Chip Kidd to Eddie Opara, a partner at one of my favourite design firms, Pentagram. With the Barbican filled with many great designers, it was hard to narrow down what really drew me in and I’ve chosen two parts. The first was Marion Deuchars talk, Marion’s work could be described as playful which you can get a sense of in her book “Lets make some great fingerprint art” but what really got me is every through she is seen as one of the world’s great designers she still have self doubt, that her work is driven by confidence, if she doesn’t believe in herself and her work then it will show and why this really grabbed my attention is because if feel exactly the same about myself and my work. She also talks about how she’s worried about how the rest of the world would see her work and that surprised me because i would think that when your work is so well known and appreciated across the world you wouldn’t worry about what people think of it.
The second part and most inspirational to me was Stefan Sagmeister talk on happiness, yes he is my favourite designer but I’m sure everyone was inspired him. In this talk he showed his project “The Happy Show” where he spoke about happiness and basically broke it down into parts and then explained how it does affect people and even different groups of people in different parts of countries and different parts of the world. But what got is is the different multimedia platforms he did all this and how well it all worked, its like he just sat there thought about what would most fun to do, do it, and then relate it to his project later on, just great!
Getting to meet some of the world renown designers just topped off once in a life time this two day experience that has changed the way I take on project, like Stefan taking a theme like ‘happiness’ and breaking it down to a form that really gets the point across. Best of all, going to the AGI has given me an idea for my final major project that I can’t wait to get started on.
I have chosen the last talk of day one by Peter Saville this stood out for me over the two days. The personal feel to the discussion was a indicator for me to choose this talk, the whole time Peter was talking to the interviewer and the audience, it feel like he was being totally honest and drop this large design persona he carries around with him. He is very confident man and sometimes will come across slightly arrogant to people, but with a man who has contributed to the creative industry hugely, he has all the right to be able to express his strong views on many areas of the creative industry, not just graphic design. Peter Saville was very open when it came to discussing the role of the graphic designer and the labels now given to different designers in the industry. I thought at this stage he was right that there needs to be clarity when it comes to the labels assigned to designs. This clarity is being blurred by the ever-changing representation of the roles designers take on now; he notes that graphic design is definitely suffering from this. “Graphic as a word is very misleading. Graphic is being used in the news, ‘graphic this, graphic that’. The irony state of hybrid, the label matters more than ever, there is shared territory but the label really matters to designers. What label do you apply to yourself?” Peter goes on to explain that if a designer is not carrying a ‘label’, they are in a ‘nonplace’. This makes a lot of sense to me when he brought this point up in the talk and he was the only member of AGI to really personally bring this up. The label can offer the designer many opportunities and with a designer not having a label assigned to them, can hinder their future design path. Are we:
Designers or Artists?
A Fine Artist or Painter?
Visual Communicators or Graphic Designers?
When quizzed on his views about self initiated work, Peter Saville responded with “It is slippery ground” and this related to his views on graphic designers finding the market with that method of work. He went on to explain that if graphic designers ‘create and initiate their own project’ they are writing their own message through their work. He stated ‘if you are writing the message, your are being a philosopher, not a graphic designer”. With the work that graphic designers are meant to design, there is always one intended message if not a few messages included. Saville questions graphic designers being seen as ‘connectors’ but immediately says “connecting what?” The question really is ‘Does the graphic designer receive the brief, understand the message and have to believe in the message in order to communicate the right things across the intended audience?’ In my opinion, the designer has to have some understanding of the message in order to produce the right work with the right meanings attached. Without some understanding of the messages and context assigned to the work, the design will surely be missing the real main points it is being created for.
Stefan Sagmeister was a highlight for me over the duration of the two days. I was previously familiar with his work but I learnt much more about him during his closing keynote; which was amazing. He finished the event in perfect style, hooking the audience in with his clever, entertaining and fascinating presentation. I was, and in fact the whole audience was, completely mesmerized by his work and general presence on the stage. His talk was a mixture of laughter and fascination. From hearing about his recent exhibition named ‘The Happy Show’; to him getting everyone to stand on our feet singing. The whole experience was just amazing.??I would love the opportunity to go to an AGI Open in future, I found the whole experience very inspirational and I felt so privileged to be able to attend an AGI event in. The conference was an inspirational experience and I was completely thrilled to be there in the presence of designers who have inspired me throughout my education so far.