WS9: London 20 Feb 2015

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Where: Visual Communication Programme, Royal College of Art, London
When: 20.02.2015
Participants: 17

WS9_GibsonGraham

Here our notes of issues discussed with an international group of 2nd and 1st year MA students in Visual Communication.
 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU TO STUDY AT THIS COLLEGE?

To kick off the workshop, everyone shared what it means for them to study at this particular art & design school. We found this round of introduction important to unearth some of the desires, tensions and power dynamics that run through a metropolitan-based college, located in a European state where the fees for higher education have sky-rocketed.

Here a list what emerged:

• To have the possibility to produce work in an international context
• To have a space where to question one’s work from multiple disciplinary and cultural perspectives
• To get the confidence to work on an international level
• To develop a network of people to work with
• To find collaborations

• To want a big change while integrating one’s previous experience into a new body of work
• To explore new ways of thinking about design
• To break with work routine
• To activate my desire to change my way of thinking
• To change perspective
• Wanting change in my practice
• continuous development
• exploration, challenge, change of direction

• To move away from more conventional structures of working as a designer
• To create a space that enables to make more personal work
• To challenge what one can do as a graphic designer
• To get out of your comfort zone
• To redefine the role of the designer
• To have the possibility to do the design work I want to do
• To search for my own voice
• To break the boundaries of graphic design

• To gain more credibility and power within the field of design
• To gain the credit to legitimate one’s practice
• To have one’s social power enhanced in an awkward way

• To be able to count on good feedback and facilities
• To meet people and develop personal interests

• To be achieving one’s plan
• To be lost for some time
• To challenge oneself
• To escape
 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DO WELL?

Once graduated, “doing well” is an almost ubiquitous ambition and indeed many “post-graduation catch-ups” are about discussing who is doing more or less well.

But what are the parameters used in operating this judgement? Through what social processes are these defined? How realistic, exclusive or diverse are these parameters in times of student debt and rampant precarious work?

Here some of the parameters proposed – each of which would give enough food for thought and exploration for another workshop:

• Striking a balance between recognition, income and contribution to society
• Striking a balance between material wealth, satisfaction from your work and life quality
• Belonging to a community; this includes having figured out to which community in the field you belong to
• Being able to deal with the difficult distinction between design and art
• Having your own philosophy
• Happiness
• Being able to push the field
• Fulfilling your own and other people’s expectations
• Producing work you still like 10 years later
• Being able to sustain yourself
• Being able to do graphic design work that is meaningful
• Continuing to do good projects (creative, experimental), while keeping a modest character
• To just work for yourself/independently

What does it mean not to do well?
• To not be communicating
• To not do what you like or think is important
• To be wasting time
• To not get anything back (in terms of money, recognition, feedback)

Further points that emerged:
• Doing well within design can be different than doing well within society.
• You might be doing well for some reasons and not for others.
• How is my “doing well” related to others’ “not doing well”?
• There is a need to more consciously define criteria against which you want to “measure” if you are doing well. Being part of a community that defines these criteria consciously can help to not fall into the neoliberal hype of individual success and continuous hyper-happiness, which are debilitating for most.
 

IF YOU IMAGINE THAT EVERYTHING PROCEEDS TO PLAN, WHAT KIND OF PRACTICE WILL YOU HAVE IN 3 TO 5 YEARS FROM NOW?


Further questions that emerged from this workshop:
• When is the right time to start thinking about life after college?
• How to plan for a nomadic lifestyle that still gives a sense of security?
• How to deal with the fact that the way the creative industries function disproportionally privileges the young, healthy, flexible and well-off?
• Whose responsibility is to make the field more inclusive, diverse and open for socially engaged practices?