Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Neville Brody – please stick to the designing

Okay, regular readers – I’m going to have a rant so please ignore the writing and look at the pictures. I just need to let off steam.

I went to the Adobe event at the Business Design Centre, in London, today. I don’t often get to this kind of event and I very rarely am able see or hear the best people in my business. Eighteen years ago when I was pregnant with Flo I went to an event at the Design Museum where I listened to a talk by the man who inspired me to be a graphic designer – Milton Glaser. It was wonderful to hear him speak – he was fascinating, inspirational and had a depth of intellectualism that is sorely lacking in most of us in this rather trivial area of work. Today I got the chance to hear Neville Brody, someone who describes himself as ’the British designer and art director, has now been at the forefront of graphic design for over two decades.’

What a disappointment – he was ill prepared despite the fact that a few hundred people had queued up to hear him speak (and despite the fact that he is a regular on the international lecture circuit) so his talk was full of childhood snapshots and long pauses while he tried to think about what to talk about next. However I could have forgiven all that if it wasn't for the fact that he didn’t allow the truth to get in the way of what he thought would make a good story. He showed us a picture of the Hornsey art college building (which he went to a year before I did) and presented it as a hotbed of revolutionary fervour that eventually was shut down by Thatcher as too great a threat to the establishment.
Well, just to put the record straight, all the revolutionary fervour had happened ten years before (when he would have been about eight years old) and by the time both Neville and I attended it was a very tame part of Middlesex Polytechnic, and rather than Thatcher, the reason the building was sold was that the college had built a shiny new well-equipped building to replace it. The next stab at ‘The Establishment’ was Neville’s ludicrous claim that schools get funding from the Government that is directly related to the children’s results in core academic subjects. Better results – more money and thus no art or music teaching. I found his lies complete lack of intellectual rigour very depressing and his posing as some kind of left wing firebrand ludicrous (look at his client list). It got me down, I think, because his success enables him to have a public platform, and quite frankly I’m not sure that I really like people thinking that this is representative of the very best thought that British graphic design can offer.
Now if he’d just stuck to telling us his favourite typefaces...



Blogger caseytoussaint said...

Sorry the conference was such a disappointment - but at least you got some great people sketches done!

6/07/2007 7:59 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Whoah! Well, you got two really super pictures from the journey to London. Really nice ones. Okay, so the speaker let you down. I can say ditto to a gig I went to recently. This speaker had enthralled us another year, but this year he was either repetitive (stuff he'd said before) or was raging against technology in our modern world. A real Luddite. Well I saw his point but it was laboured. Speakers need to be aware of the audience, not their own pomposity.
I remember an Anglican vicar - or higher - and he led a prayer, 'Oh Lord save us from pomposity'. Oh, that sounded so Anglican! Ha ha.

6/08/2007 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Cathy (Kate) Johnson said...

Oh Julie, I SO have been there, and listened to people put a spin on the truth to such an extent that I could barely sit still and keep my mouth shut. I just hate manipulative lies of that sort. What a disappointment for you! But you got lovely sketches out of it, in any case...

6/08/2007 3:49 PM  

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