Returning to Unit X for the combined BA(Hons) Graphic Design and BA(Hons) Illustration with Animation workshop for 2016, we welcomed Amy Lord (flying solo) from Lord Whitney for an introductory lecture followed by 2 days of group based collaboration.
The lecture describes an academic journey from complete uncertainty in the final year of a documentary photography degree in Leeds, to founding a collaborative partnership with a fellow student on graphic design (Rebecca Whitney) in the final weeks of a course. The realisation that what linked them was a sense of making and theatricality clearly comes later – but what resonates in the lecture is a sense that what they eventually arrived at as a ‘practice’ sits outside the definitions of a degree classification or a recognised academic programme description, i.e. it was not predictable.
For students in the audience to understand that their own futures could equally reside outside of the ‘known or familiar’ and that maybe they can define their own ways of working, create new audiences and blur practice boundaries, was for many clearly revelatory and inspiring. Further that this had been developed and remains a practice based outside of London, whilst the clients maybe often be in London or indeed worldwide, Lord Whitney can remain where they choose – on the top floor of an old warehouse with a huge studio space developed piecemeal over a number of years. This with the clear advantages of reduced cost, large studio spaces, and importantly a network of collaborative industrial and creative partners.
The clearly articulated journey from ‘paying £50 to make an artwork to getting paid £50 to make an artwork’ – to now employing teams of assistants and technicians working for global brands to create events/sets/installations, is one of persistence and invention. Working with limited materials, limited budgets and impossible deadlines….but none the less, delivering witty and inventive graphic solutions that surprise, engage and generate new audiences in both the public and private sectors of the economy.
Our own workshops led by Amy Lord, focused on simple starting points: a random object and 2 unrelated words as the basis for a wearable response in 6 hours. This resulted in a wide range of creative responses and a huge amount of collateral cardboard mayhem and glue gun action! but more than this a realisation that thinking though the manipulation of materials and utilising the energy of a collaborative group, can create great results in very short time frame.