A6 postcard, 6 cards (2015)
Analysis of an exhibtion
A proposal for a 'learning aid' that would help younger students process/analyse their visit to an [art] exhibition. This aid is the size of a regular postcard / A6, with the other side (except for "Lõpeta Küsimused") left available for the students to write down their notes. With this project I worked together with a teacher, tried out the cards with her students.
The assignment was to create something that students could take with them to an exhibition, and that could be used later in the class to analyse the exhibition (e.g. you could split the students into different groups based on which card they receive, and work in groups of two or three). I felt that taking on different roles (either as an artist, an art critic, or a journalist) would help help the students to think more critically about what they see in an exhibition.
This is not a manifesto
I’m partial to self-initiated work like Krahh, a text/illustration zine that I make together with another designer, because I shamelessly assume I have a point of view worth listening to. We don’t get to express our ideas in client-based work. With projects like Krahh I also get the means and the opportunity to deal with the frustration and anxiety that I feel day-to-day. Design becomes an excercise in self-control and self-pacification. I try to direct it into something productive, into a research-based volume of work that could lead to unexpected connections. In the zine we have concentrated on words and phrases that have negative connotations, like ‘failure’ or ‘getting fired’, or ‘being a loser’, because those are the concepts and emtions that affect us. For me it stems from the fact that I’m perpetually frustrated, dissatisfied, irritated; that I hesitate and I stutter and I can’t quite get my words right, even as I’m writing to you right now. This frustration is also what drives me, but it needs to be structured, it needs a system and a purpose, so I can break through it. This frustration is also what incites my interest in design criticism, I want to write, I want to criticise, I want to impose my view.
I am not sure what really ‘excites’ me in graphic design right now (I think the last time I was actually excited about something was the time I discovered those 0,16 € vegetable noodle packets in Rimi), but what’s been interesting to me, what I’ve been reading about lately, is design criticism. I read a paper by Tara Winters, where she writes about Metahaven’s practice, about how they have the intention of “creating a more informed method for design”. To be honest I don’t know yet what that means to me, what a certain stand – such as an informed method for design - would look like in my practice, but I will have to find out. I’ll write my own damn manifesto.
I’m interested in the criticism that comes from the designers themselves, criticism that shows self-reflection, is practice-based and in relation to the background and culture of the designer. Since the medium is the message, and the form is part of the content, we should think critically about how that form came to be, what that form communicates in itself. Design criticism could be something that combines journalism with fiction, like the gonzo journalists of the 70s; honest and to-the-point enough to be taken seriously, without sounding dull and unispired. It should be entertaining, even to a layperson. It should have a good flow to it, an amusing rhetoric with a little bit of drama. It should de-familiarize the ordinary, talk about ‘how things are’, inquire and speculate, amuse and instill knowledge.
I will write
I will criticise
I will impose
If I won’t, what’s the point of having come this far?
A short essay written as part of the "Why I Write" workshop at the Estonian Academy of Arts led by Kristina Ketola Bore in October 2014.
Life is too short for shit work.
A designer shouldn’t do work that is useless, valueless, or just plain bad. At best, shit work is something that isn’t very rewarding, something that a designer just can’t be proud of. That is not to say, that none of us don’t do that sort of work – we all have to pay rent, to pay off student debts. Afterall, if the pay is good, it can’t be ignored. At worst it is a permanent solution; a distraction that keeps the designer at the end of a rope.
A designer needs to practice self-reflection and self-actualization, to take responsibility for their work. A designer needs to be practical, and still take risks (there is no other way to become a great designer). A designer needs to show up and keep showing up – to do the work, even when we fail from time to time. A designer needs to have the ability and the time to research their chosen field. A designer needs to discover for themselves why something is done the way it’s done. A designer needs to have willingness to evaluate and cross-examine the legitimacy of their research. A designer should be connected to what is happening around them, to the pressing contemporary issues in their respective societies. The designer should stand for something, for anything, really.
Design needs be honest; it needs to have commercial appeal to reach a larger audience. Design needs to be problem specific, innovative. Good design is function combined with aesthetics. Good design is intuitive. Good design needs to build a narrative; it should inspire a long-lasting relationship between the product and the customer. Good design needs to be sustainable; it should take into consideration the products afterlife. Good design needs to be critical, it should invite dialogue, make people question what they thought they knew.
Good design is worthwhile.
Text, written with Krista Tulp & Triin Loosaar (2015)
A design manifesto for the "An Exercise in Uncertainty" workshop led by Suzanne E. Martin at the Estonian Academy of Arts in January 2015.