It’s time to give graphics the recognition it deserves

Plans by London’s Somerset House to hold a graphics festival next spring should receive a hearty welcome from the creative community (see News). Graphics underpins so many strands of commercial design, yet goes largely uncelebrated in the UK.

It doesn’t yet play a significant role in the London Design Festival, despite efforts by Sir John Sorrell – a graphic designer – and Pentagram, among others, to organise events to coincide. If any discipline has broken through the 3D design stronghold on which the festival was built, it is interactive design, with the i-Design event and now Tent Digital.

Graphics isn’t short of activities. The likes of D&AD offer graphics events that straddle advertising and design and there are a host of small galleries specialising in graphics.

The Reel Poster Gallery in west London, for example, glories in its collection of movie posters, and there are two cartoon galleries. Shoreditch boasts the Kemistry Gallery, a small, but important venue, and Quentin Blake is seeking a permanent home for the House of Illustration he first mooted in 2002.

Graphics and branding have more awards schemes and parties than any other discipline, as our Creative Survey, published this week, indicates. But they have yet to achieve the cultural prominence they deserve.

For Pick Me Up, curator Claire Catterall aims to meld the edgy East End scene with more mainstream graphics and bring together different generations of designers. She will also include live features – as in Somerset House’s current Show Studio exhibition with its live fashion photoshoots by the likes of Nick Knight – to create a recipe that should kindle public interest.

Graphic designers have much to gain from broadening their horizons. There is concern in the profession about dwindling standards, with the decline in teaching skills such as drawing and typography in colleges. By celebrating the best, in all its diversity, perhaps these issues can be addressed.

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  • Adrian Morley November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Great … graphic design in the UK is due for a healthy renaissance.

    There are many fantastic design houses, studios and freelancers producing some great work here as always.

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