"Butcher's Hook is a design studio in London's Portobello formed by soon-to-be graduates of Kingston University and LCC in response to a D&AD brief in which students are encouraged to Make Their Mark.
It was featured on Creative Review's blog this morning.
By providing 'design for the local community' with a pledge to spend at least 10% of their time working on community projects, the students have started their own design agency and they haven't even left college yet.
Whilst Creative Review seem impressed by the students' ambitious move away from the computer screen to find their own work, it is clear these graduates haven't ventured into industry yet. Whilst I am happy to celebrate the initiative and drive that these students clearly have and I do not deny their talent and bravery, I am rather cynical of its potential. With 6 months experience, I am struggling to find a job in London and, like many graduates, have considered setting out on my own. What has prevented me from doing anything more than mildly pondering over the thought, is my lack of knowledge and experience.
Working on your own, or in a small team requires flawless Mac [computer] skills, impeccable design skills and not to mention bravery and confidence. It is also worth considering that client liaison skills can not be forged over night and the time and attention this occupies should not be underestimated. I once worked with an agency that was not much more than a year old and I didn't see them design anything all week. The agency was made up of just the two of them, and whilst their work is impressive and their client list respectable, they spent almost the entire day liaising with clients, organising the next week's schedule and discussing production. Whilst I have nothing good in terms of design to show from that placement, I can't deny I came out much more knowledgeable and more certain that I wasn't ready for that yet. The two of them had at least 8 years experience from a top London design agency, which not only prepared them for production and project management alongside design, but no doubt aided their client list too.
For me, The Butcher's Hook epitomises what is wrong with graduates. University teaches ideas, a little in the way of typographic principle and basic Adobe operation skills. Most importantly, university teaches arrogance. It wasn't until I started my first placement, I realised how little I actually knew. Idealistic tutors cherish the students' naivete and love for design, and keep from them what the reality is like. My biggest fear about starting out on my own would be the lack of good projects, which is something well-established agencies can provide you with. On your own, a new and unreliable studio, you lack the knowledge and experience that can get you good clients with impressive budgets. Low budget work can be dull to design and the project management and client liaison can become stressful. Designing on a budget is harder. Students only design ideas and don't often have to worry about the production costs and client needs. I would be interested to see what local community work these graduates get at Butcher's Hook, and whether they have the stamina and love for design to keep it going. I wish them good luck, but wouldn't encourage other graduates to do the same. Never underestimate how much you have left to learn."
(anonymous, 5 April 2012)
"Graphic design and typography give visual form to communication. For geographers this is the oft-ignored liminal space between landscape and its description, author and reader. For designers it is a crucial part of the communication process. This practice-led inquiry proposes that by developing a cross-disciplinary geo/graphic design process thus establishing the visualisation of space as a process itself, and not by the product of scientific investigation, designers will engage with place in a more proactive and productive way in terms of community, content and communication. Chosen for its complexity and its contrasting juxtapositions, the London Borough of Hackney will be used as the research and testing ground for the enquiry. Contrasting definitions of place will be used to underpin the project. [Doreen] Massey's notion of place as process and [Yi-Fu] Tuan's vision of place as pause will frame the study in such a way as to recognise place as a postmodern site of spontaneity and chance, but one that is shaped and known by events both past and present. An ethnographic methodology will be used to gather and analyse content. Methods of collection will include cultural probes, participant observation and interviews. This content will then be used to develop a series of print based design projects that will explore the problem of representation in a postmodern context, and lead to the articulation and testing of a geo/graphic design process."
(Alison Barnes, London College of Communication)
"This week is an important one for the future of graphic design in the UK, writes Michael Johnson. The Royal College of Art, the world's only post grad art and design school, interviews the shortlist of candidates to run its Communication Art and Design course. But with CA&D a decade old, has Art proved too much of a distraction from Design? ...
Communications graduates have been at pains to present their work within the context of white walled galleries, not grubby old commerce. Work has often been presented as 'work in progress', never finished. The 'process' has become the king, not the problem to be solved. ...
The roots of this was the self-immersion/self expression phase of British design prevalent in the nineties, fuelled by then-zeitgeist collective Tomato. This found an eager audience in South Kensington. Rightly or wrongly, a collection of part-time tutors were gathered to support the course with performance, video art, experimental film and art specialisms. Coupled with the merger of the traditional disciplines, the ground was laid for a new generation of crossover graphic artists to bloom.
But they haven't. By all accounts the department is just as silo-ridden as it ever was. If you don't believe there's an art bias, just a brief interrogation of the department's website reveals that of the dozen or so current MPhil and PhD students, the vast majority describe themselves as artists (and only two as graphic designers).
In the meantime, the better undergraduate courses like Glasgow, Kingston and St Martins* (in the UK) have successfully incorporated these 'conceptual' leanings into their courses, whilst still producing graduates capable of the basics of craft and typography. Students from these courses may not glean much more from two more years at college, apart from more room to experiment, and have often chosen simply to start work and get on with their lives. ...
Meanwhile, post-grad courses are the only growth area left in education and are springing up on a monthly basis - soon the 'MA in design' might be as ubiquitous as an 'A star at A-level'. In short, there's a lot of competition and the RCA needs to clarify exactly why a student should spend two more years there. At present it's pretty blurry, apart from avoiding a recession-hit industry just a little longer and the undoubted kudos of those letters after your name."
(Michael Johnson, Creative Review, 8 March 2010)