Archive for the 'Brand' Category

TALK: Ian Anderson & Kim Coleman 6.30 Weds 4th May


Please join us for talks by Ian Anderson and Kim Coleman. Ian is a graphic designer and founder of ‘The Designers Republic’, the Sheffield based design studio. Kim is an artist and a designer of live stage shows for bands.

Comm Des Talks are a series of talks and workshop events organised by the Communication Design department at GSA.

Sign up here for tickets:

Radiant Discord

Emmet Byrne is writing some great stuff on The Gradient — Walker Art Center‘s blog. This latest post on Lance Wyman, Mexico ’68 and the Tlatelolco massacre is fascinating, and bears parallels with the book Kommando Otl Aicher (by A. Negrelli) and Argentina ’78 (by viscomdes person Kieran Mccann), both of which are currently on show at the Lighthouse, Glasgow, in ‘It’s Not Very Design That‘ – an exhibition about contemporary political graphic design by a young and up-and-coming design curator*.


Re-Brand hype

POW if you don’t know about me

POW better ask someone quickly

’cause POW!


Personal thoughts on the rebrand of the Whitney by Experimental Jetset. That makes the content sound more exciting and contentious than it actually is. Elsewhere on the internet…

M’72 Legacy

ian mclaren

M’72 – Design Legacy is a symposium at UCA Canterbury, running from 29-31 June 2012, which explores the legacy of Otl Aicher and the design work for the 1972 Munich Olympics. It’s of interest for a number of reasons, not least that it features Ian McLaren (pictured above, a former head of department of Vis Com at GSA) who worked as one of the small design team creating and deploying the identity system for the 72 games.

The second reason that it is particularly interesting to me is that through another blog I write, I was contacted recently by Alexander Negrelli, a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie, who is about to publish a book called Kommando Otl Aicher, looking at terrorism, politics, sport and design through the lens of visual identity. It sounds like a really interesting book, but due to funding issues within Dutch arts, its publication has been delayed until later this summer. A trailer can be viewed below.

Martin Boyce and the Design Research Unit, (unbeknown to him).


“The machine is accepted as the essentially modern vehicle of form. Our designs will therefore be essentially designs for mass production, but at the same time we hope to rescue mass production from the ugliness and aesthetic emptiness which has so far characterized the greater part of its output”. —Design Research Unit, 1943

Another post-talk train ride, another blog write up. Again, seizing on the time allowed by this journey, I’m going to try to condense an interesting talk from Martin Boyce, and an interesting peruse around the Design Research Unit exhibition, currently at the Cooper Gallery in Dundee, into a succinct and coherent blog post.

The talk for me raised some pertinent issues which were hinted at in an earlier post covering an interview with Metahaven, where the politics of aesthetics raised their head, and the point was made about how the politics of a design piece can fade over time, (or at least not be directly replicated in a different place and time). Boyce’s work heavily references, and in some cases perhaps directly appropriates, design forms of various types. And he talked eloquently about about how by processing and representing these forms in a contemporary art context, their meaning is changed, “distorted by the process of recollection”.

While it might be possible to question this appropriation of accepted ‘well’ designed objects – is it primarily for their forms and aesthetic value? – he pre-empted this by talking of his lack of ‘academic’ insight into his work, and interest in “wild knowledge”. He talked about following his eye and instinct, and this reminded me of an idea of Brian Eno‘s, where he talked about the “intellect catching up with the instinct”. I think there’s probably a studio project in this, and the same could be said for his approach to his typographic pieces. It was interesting to hear how these pieces came into being and how they then went out into the world, with seemingly little reference to typographic history or conventions which we perhaps get a little fixated by.

The Design Research Unit exhibition which this talk ran alongside was a concise and functional display of some of the projects undertaken by that design organisation between 1942 and 1972. Again, the key thing it raised for me was that the politics of the time, while implicit in the work, often get overlooked by designers who seem fixated with this orderly way of working in terms of stewarding design and identity today. It’s difficult to put my finger on, but I’m fascinated by why the template laid down by this early move into corporate compliance is so resilient. Maybe it connects to ideas about why a particular way of looking at design, productivity and manufacturing, (and I guess by all this we mean the free market economy in its many facets), achieved such traction in the post-war years. Definitely a subject for further thinking, and a very good exhibition, well worth a visit.


N.b. Apologies for the use of ‘Boyce’ during this post. ‘Martin’ seems overly familiar, while ‘Boyce’ sounds a bit pompous. Rock and a hard place.


The danger is that it’s just talk. Then again, the danger is that it’s not. I believe you can speak things into existence. – Jay-Z, Decoded, 2010

via Artists Space | “Identity”.

Lava Lunch


Tickets for the next LongLunch talk by Lava, (taking place in the Mac Lecture Theatre at 7pm on 5th May), are now on sale. There are 15 free tickets for GSA students, allocated to the first 15 people to email me at n.mcguire[at] with the word LAVA in the subject line.

What are other art schools doing? #1,342

Creative Review report on the New look for Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.

Shit Happens

A case of mistaken identity, and what this might mean?

Identity Protection Scheme

In that rarest of venn diagrams that features Jim Davidson, Branding, Corporate Identity, Semiotics and Colin and Justin, we find out that a Glasgow pantomime dress broke the Geneva Convention.

A spokesman for the Red Cross said; “The emblem is a special sign of neutrality and protection recognised by all sides during armed conflicts.Misuse of that emblem – even when done in an innocent and light-hearted manner – has to be addressed. Repeated and widespread misuse of the Red Cross emblem could dilute its neutrality and its ability to protect.”

Coming Soon: More ‘space for jotting down ideas’ on back of a fag packet.

This story caught my attention recently, reminding me of an op-ed piece by the late Tibor Kalman, proposing more or less exactly the same thing 20 years ago. As designers of ‘surface’ (amongst other things), it’s interesting to see designed identity controlled and manipulated in this way by the Government, acknowledging the perceived marketing (and political) importance of image. Are there possibly other surfaces worthy of the States attention? Of course this is pretty mild compared to the Death Cigarettes enterprises of eccentric design and marketing entrepreneur, (and smoker I think), BJ Cunningham, which takes that line of thought to its logical conclusion.

Branding the City—Collective Urban Identity

‘Identity Crisis’ is an upcoming exhibition at the Barras Centre. There are a lot of interesting angles to this, and some difficult questions embodied in the project. Some of that can be accessed via here.

“The newspaper dismissed this [design] idea as ‘art’, and to us, that is an insult…”

A couple of great links sent over by Sarah Tripp. Firstly the video above which provides some very interesting (and entertaining) ideas to digest. Meanwhile, this article in Frieze magazine looks at relationships between conceptual art and the design of experiences. Though I have some reservations about the connections being made in this article, (and the arguments being drawn from them), both the video and article are interesting at a time when the less informed are throwing the word ‘conceptual’ around with a lack of thought in assessments of various different design courses and degree shows, as the thin end of a thick wedge for needlessly polarising ‘ideas’ from the execution.

European Design Festival

Visually *sparky*
design (for the European Design Festival in Rotterdam) from StudioDumbar(1), makes me want to move to the Netherlands, where people generally seem (to me) more relaxed about this sort of thing.

(1) Their Performance of ‘Sniff & Kiss’, a portrait of Studio Dumbar, at Typo Berlin 2010 Saturday 22nd of May, sounds interesting.

There are more than 11 Trillion Things to Learn

The Foundation for Children’s Welfare Stamps in the Netherlands promoted their stamps with this animation from Paul Postma. The theme of the animation is ‘Let Children Learn’ and comes from the foundation’s belief that every child has the right to education. The animation focuses on learning through play to solve problems.

Music: ‘Brother John’ by Clutchy Hopkins & Lord Kenjamin
Sound: Jasper Boeke
Animation: Paul Postma

In the Shadow of Shadow


With the support of Uninstal, as part of a two day exploration of critical urban praxis with radical sound art collective Ultra-Red, The Strickland Distribution are hosting a public walk on Sunday 9th May. The walk is intended as a means to investigate contemporary urban dispossession as a consequence of gentrification in light of historical forms of primitive accumulation in the city. Led by independent writer and researcher Neil Gray, in collaboration with a range of activists and artists and housing and community groups, the walk will take a digressive route through George Square, the branded ‘Merchant City’, Glasgow Green, and the Barras Market. In a form of live critical praxis, the walk will aim to illuminate such shadowed areas as the ‘Cancer of Empire’ and the dead hand of Victoriana; the secret of primitive accumulation, past and present; ‘the Selfridges effect’ and the rent-gap; the ‘arts-led property strategy’ and affective labour; slums, tower blocks and penthouses, and the continuing crisis in housing; and the neoliberal pulverisation and commodification of social spaces.

The title of the walk refers to ‘Shadow’ and his ‘Midnight scenes and social photographs’, a paternalist Victorian account of Glasgow slums written in 1858. In the Shadow of Shadow, we propose instead an investigative ‘history from below’; a critical exploration of gentrification set in the historical contexts of the ‘second city of Empire’ and contemporary city-building. While Victorian paternalists like Shadow promoted top-down, moralistic solutions to mitigate the problems of the urban poor, we know that social change only ever comes with broad-based organising from below. Participating groups such as the Scottish Tenants Organisation, Glasgow Games Monitor 2014, and the Glasgow Residents Network are already active in Glasgow, and this walk aims to provide the means for critical self-reflection and collaborative exchange, as well as instigating and sustaining wider solidarity and activity between anti-gentrification researchers, activists, community groups, planners and artists in Glasgow. We welcome all those with an interest in this project.

Please note that the walk will be audio recorded by Ultra-Red. Recordings from the event will then be used the following Sunday 16th May in sound workshops that explore the issues raised on the walk and the possibilities for new and ongoing forms of organisation and resistance to gentrification in Glasgow.

Day 1: Sunday 9th May. Meet 1pm at Queen Victoria statue (with horse) George Square.

A public walk from George Square to the Barras market, bringing in contributions from researchers, activists and artists in a form of live critical praxis (time: 1-4pm approx.).

Followed by a screening from Document’s archive of ‘Drumchapel – The Frustration Game’ (20 mins, de-classed elements, 1989) and discussion (time: 4-7pm approx.) in Laurie’s Bar, 34-36 King Street, Glasgow, G1 5QT Map:

Day 2: Sunday 16th May, 1-5pm, Kinning Park Complex, 40 Cornwall Street, Glasgow, G41 1AQ Map:

A practical sound workshop with Ultra-Red bringing together walk participants to discuss the issues raised during the walk. The aim of these workshops is to facilitate a deeper understanding of gentrification, and to instigate and sustain wider solidarity and activity between anti-gentrification researchers, activists, community groups and artists in Glasgow.

Participants include:

Neil Gray (writer and researcher)
Leigh French (co-editor, Variant magazine)
Simon Yuill (artist and writer)
Libby Porter (University of Glasgow, Department of Urban Studies; Planners Network UK)
John Cousins (radical researcher and historian)


The Strickland Distribution:
Document – International Documentary Film Festival :
Scottish Tenants Organisation:
Glasgow Games Monitor 2014:
Glasgow Residents Network:
The Burgh Angel:
East End Eye:
South Side Crane:

Some background research by Neil Gray from Variant magazine:

‘Constructing Neoliberal Glasgow: The Privatisation of Space’

‘The Clyde Gateway: A New Urban Frontier?’

‘Glasgow’s Merchant City: An Artist-Led Property Strategy’

‘The Tyranny of Rent’

Uncorporate Identity

OMG! lol, just taken delivery of Uncorporate Identity.

Pre-Segment Segment

Why the Art School needs (or should want) a formulaic approach to its visual identity is a puzzle to me, but this image above by (i think) Martin Boyce for a pre-brand-guidelines pre-‘segment’ degree show invitation made me think that maybe he saw what was coming. This image is from GSA Flickr Archive.

Martin Boyce is very interesting as one of many contemporary artists using and referencing text and typography. More on that here. A separate, more detailed blog post on this topic to follow, sometime in the next 7 years.

Good Graphic

If you’re doing any projects about identity design or logos or branding, would highly recommend the current edition of (the almost always excellent) Graphic Magazine. If I had more time right now I’d try to kick off a discussion about what Identity Design and Branding might actually be, but time is short.