This is part 2 of an ongoing survey. See part 1 here.
As a design candidate in the MCAD MFA program I was asked to write an “artist statement” which, as a designer, I found inherently problematic. In response I contacted designers whose work inspired and influenced me in some way, asking:
Is there such a thing as a “designer statement,” and if so, how would you go about creating one?
I received responses from 30 designers and studios which I will present here in the coming days. Many of the designers in this survey are represented in the current show Graphic Design: Now in Production.
In brief response to your question:
It’s an interesting issue, as typically artist statements are attempts to encapsulate a singular practice, whereas graphic design practice is typically collaborative, context-driven, multi-part, and less easily reduced to singular aims, as it is filtered through commissions and situational responses. The easy, not-quite-critical answer, is that “designer statements” are typically the portfolios themselves, as when designers simply show their past commissioned and let others find the common threads within it. The more self-conscious answer requires designers to formulate a set of pre-conditions, interests, and focuses that guide both the selection [or initiation] of the work and its creation.
All this being said, the use and abuses of artists statements is a pretty interesting topic in itself. Artist statements are often bad, self-promotional, misinterpreting, irrelevant to the work itself, or all of the above. The next issue of Paper Monument, an art journal that I co-edit and Project Projects designs, will have an essay that looks at the history of the artists statement and how it has served many functions over its evolution. I’ll let you know when it comes out, if you’re still engaged with the topic.
Hope this helps and all my best!
Thank you for email and interest. I tried to answer, hope I understood it correctly (+ english is not my mother language, so please feel free to correct).
If I try to formulate it then:
Perhaps in terms of design practice I think yes–one can conceive a set of rules, guidelines, paths, as some kind of a statement, but in terms of design as profession I would find it scarcely possible if not contradictory. I think I have philistine doubts about such a kind of (written) things in general.
Hope it makes sense.
Thank you again. All the best,
Hey Vadim, here is my reaction:
I cannot tell you whether or not there is such a thing as a design statement for you, or whether there is such thing as a design statement for me, but I can tell you that there is, and a need for, a design statement within the design community. Look to some of the most notable design contemporaries in the community; working designers like James Victore, Experimental Jetset, or Stefan Sagmeister. It is very likely that if you placed these three designers’ current work next to each other you would be able to pick out each one with little difficulty. This is because as seasoned designers they have found a balance of appropriate interpretation of (client) ideas through their own lens of how they see the world.
James Victore has a vision that he approaches every design project with that guarantees that anything he creates will be explicitly of the mind of James Victore. This could be through aesthetic or conceptual approaches, depending on the designer’s own perceptions of the world. Thus, in this argument, a design statement is essential to understand how the designer approaches their work. Strong graphic design is not purely a soulless, ambiguous creation of an idea. It is still a very intensely personal approach.
I’m fascinated to hear how you are sensing this tension between art and design. Can’t wait to hear more.
Any profession can have “statement of purpose.” Any person, artist, designer, plumber, can make a “statement.” Routinely an “artist statement” implies some moral imperative that is consistent with his or her work. Kind of pretentious, I’d say. But I think a “designer’s statement” is valid too. Its a statement of principles. Check out the film Citizen Kane, at one point Mr. Kane writes out said principles. A designer can do that too. Whether the designer actually lives by it is another story.
Thanks for your message! We have no idea (yet) of the nature of your enquiry, but we promise to look into it, after the holiday season. For now, we just want to wish you a merry Christmas / Winter Solstice / Yule / Hanukkah, and a happy New Year!
We will not be completely offline though; we will check our mail every once in a while. But we will not respond to it (unless it is super-urgent). For all other matters, we attached below a list with answers to the most common questions. We hope this will help you further!
Here is the list:
Internship. If you wrote us asking for an internship, we will definitely take a look at your portfolio, but we will not be offering you a place, as we are not really comfortable with the whole concept of internships (long story). However, if you really need to do an internship, and want to do it in the Netherlands, you might find it interesting to check out this link: http://www.bno.nl/ontwerpers/vraag_en_aanbod/stages A short text on our views on internships can be found here: http://www.uniteditions.com/archives/experimental-jetset
Employment. We are a small studio, just three persons working from a single space, and we like to keep it small-scale. So we are not offering any job positions. If you are urgently looking for a job, you might like to check out the following link (but why not just start your own studio?) http://www.bno.nl/ontwerpers/vraag_en_aanbod/vacatures
Questionnaires by students. Normally, we try to answer all questionnaires. And we usually enjoy doing that. The problem is, we are receiving so many questionnaires these days — it is impossible to keep up. It is so easy to get lost in replying each and every e-mail, answering all these questionnaires, etc., but it is also extremely time-consuming. So for now, we decided to pause it for a while. We just want to concentrate on the actual act of designing. We are really sorry about that. If you need specific information about us, you might find your questions answered in one of the interviews listed below:
http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/design-ideology.html http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/sbook6interview.html http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/fillstroke.html Other interviews can be found here: http://blog.iso50.com/13625/experimental-jetset-interview http://www.manystuff.org/?p=9976
http://www.uniteditions.com/archives/experimental-jetset http://www.swisslegacy.com/index.php/2007/04/11/interview-with-experimental-jetset http://www.aisleone.net/?p=951 http://www.onequestioninterview.com/2007/11/experimental-jetset.html http://geotypografika.com/2008/03/21/jenny-tondera-experimental-jetset
Recent news, links and posts can be found on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Experimental-Jetset/225316069159 For a short biography, check our MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jetsetexperimental
We are not brilliant talkers, but a recent lecture can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2pzHa6ks0M We hope these links will help you!
Studio visits. Being teachers ourselves, we know how important studio visits are for students, and we certainly experienced how difficult it can be to organize them. That is why we feel very guilty to let you know that we are currently not really up for studio visits. It is such a hectic period right now; the idea of a studio visit is just too much. But we appreciate your interest in our studio, and feel really flattered. Maybe another time, when things are quieter. We are really sorry about this!
Hyperlinks. Currently taking place at The Art Institute of Chicago: Hyperlinks, a group exhibition revolving around the relationship between architecture and other forms of design, curated by Zoe Ryan. Displayed in the exhibition is a small selection of posters we designed for NAi Maastricht and NAiM / Bureau Europa: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=475103439159 More information about the exhibition here: http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/exhibition/hyperlinks
CAPC. Out now: the CAPC catalogue we designed for Austrian artist Heimo Zobernig. Part of a larger
graphic identity (including invitations and posters) that we designed for the Zobernig retrospective, this book was recently published by Les Presses du Reel: http://www.lespressesdureel.com/EN/ouvrage.php?id=1466
John+Paul+Ringo+George. We are thrilled to announce that the series of shirts we originally designed for Japanese t-shirt label 2K/Gingham (and that have been out-of-print for a couple of years) are currently being reissued by t-shirt label Publik. A first selection is available here: http://publik.jp/tag/experimental-jetset For information about prices, sizes, ordering, colours, etc., please contact Publik.
Still the modern world. On the subject of shirts, we recently designed a shirt for a symposium that took place at Paradiso: http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/news/still-the-modern-world.html As we are writing this, the shirt is probably sold-out (as it was a very limited edition). Nevertheless, more images can be seen here: http://www.manystuff.org/?p=9976
Kinderpostzegels 2010. We are proud to have been involved in the creation of the Kinderpostzegels, a set of stamps that was released last month by the Royal Dutch Mail (also known as Dutch Post Group). The photography was done by Anuschka Blommers and NIels Schumm, while we were responsible for the typography. More information on these stamps here: http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/news/kinderpostzegels-2010.html
Paradiso program poster. Earlier this year, we were asked to redesign the two-weekly Paradiso program poster, a poster we originally designed in 1996 and has been in use by Paradiso ever since. The redesigned poster was launched last August; more information can be found here: http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/news/paradiso.html
The full press release by Paradiso can be read here:
For recent updates, check the News section:
We now also have a Facebook page; feel free to check it out: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Experimental-Jetset/225316069159
We sincerely hope that the above list will take care of most of the questions that we receive daily. We will try to answer all other questions as soon as possible (after the winter), but even then, we cannot guarantee a reply; we are very sorry about that. Thanks for your understanding!
All the best,
Danny, Marieke and Erwin, Experimental Jetset. http://www.experimentaljetset.nl
PS: As you might notice, this mail does not contain any apostrophes or quotation marks. For some reason, our server did not allow us to use apostrophes in our auto-reply. Strange. Hopefully it is just a temporary glitch; we never had this problem.
PPS: Ampersands seems to be forbidden as well. So we replaced them with plus signs. Our auto-reply is getting more and more cryptic every day.
Look for Part 3 soon!