In bygone days
One Week About Graphic Design by graphic designer Joost Overbeek
What is really the perfect job for graphic designers. What is it with which you can really impress your colleagues? When I was a graphic arts student, it was designing a postage stamp or money. And the VPRO was the most prestigious client. And Art and theatre and film.
When I was asked to design the poster for Wim T’s latest theatre show, when Gummbah called for a book: super. But I do understand that the current generation of designers feels different about all this. Then what is it now? There’s bound to be something new. Something social-media thingy, a new digital gadget? What do I know.
Recently, I attended a night on Art Education. In my opinion, the senior lecturer graphic arts was rattling on a bit: the course had to be taught in English and pre-university education had to be a requirement. When I talked to him about this (creativity has little to do with one’s pre-university education, right?), I got a friendly reprimand: “Ah, Joost Overbeek, I used to be a real fan of you, IN THE PAST.” I told him that in my design studio the people who he wanted to train, would be of no use to me, even though we always have very nice jobs, at least that’s what I think. “Give me an example,” he said. After some thinking, I came up with the previously mentioned website of Paul de Leeuw. “That’s not a design job, that’s rather something done by an advertising agency …” Oh, well
Visited the graduation exhibition. Pleasant surprise and letdown. The pleasant surprise is that I don’t have to fear that a new can of competitors is popping open. I didn’t see anyone with an excessive competence in what I still know as graphic design. The setback could be that the fun, cool things I saw are beyond my area. For example, I put on a pair of Oculus Rift glasses. Very cool indeed, but not for me. Tell the client to call that student (Freek Maandag) if he wants something like it, and it will turn out quite alright.
What I always find very amusing in academy students is the pomposity of many projects. There are just a few of them who can make something really smashing. Most of them feel the need to add a profound, often slightly too ambitious story, preferably in English, (and some catchy-sounding English words or one-liners). Refugees were a popular topic this year. What design can do! It always makes me all the prouder of my ‘making fun’ graduation. After all, no-one has ever done better by acting more interesting than necessary. Oh yeah, and here follows something really graphic. At a graduation exhibition, I saw examples of this ‘pulled-out’ typography (120% horizontally adjusted?). Yes, it certainly looked great, but it was something that in the past used to be definitely prohibited. “Totally trendy”, said the young graphic designer who had come with me. Oh well, ‘trendy’ rather than ‘beautiful’.