Visual Communication Graduates Continue Critical Graphic Design Workshops
Post Eady is a workshop orientated platform for the discussion of graphic design, currently coordinated by three RCA Visual Communication graduates Joana Pestana, Max Ryan and Vilja Achté. Since graduating the group have run workshops for Helsinki Design Week and London Design Festival exploring the role and relevance of the design manifesto within critical graphic design practice.
The group formed at the RCA while running the Eady Forum, an element of the Visual Communication programme supervised by Senior Tutor Adrian Shaughnessy. ‘Eady Forum is a student run platform for the critical study and exploration of graphic design’ Adrian explained. ‘It looks at graphic design with the widest possible lens, and encourages investigation into the discipline's engagement with a variety of other disciplines. It exemplifies a key component of the Visual Communication curriculum: independent learning, and developing an independent practice.’
Each year, a small group of second year students are tasked with putting on a range of events that explore and interrogate the discipline of graphic design. Additionally, they are responsible for budgeting, planning and promoting the events, offering the opportunity to gain valuable skills for professional life.
‘Eady Forums are normally based around a theme’ Adrian explained. ‘What If?, with its suggestion of speculation and discovery, was the group's topic, and they have carried this on into post-RCA life. The group gained so much from their stewardship of Eady Forum, that after graduating they wished to continue with the work they started.’
‘The critical approach implied in the title What If? was manifested in the choices of our guests but also in the design of our posters’ explained Post Eady. ‘Moreover, we used the platform to broaden conversation and to try to understand and advance the contemporary direction of graphic design, asking questions such as: Are there personal or collective statements in graphic design? Do social networks enhance individualism in design or does the flattened content that these platforms host play out similar roles to movements, albeit at an accelerated pace? These interests led to the organisation of installations and workshops to discuss and generate manifestos in the field of graphic design.’
Two guests the group invited to speak as part of Eady Forum that particularly resonated with their approach were Design Displacement Group and Silvio Lorusso. Design Displacement Group, who are a collective rather than a studio of designers, offered an enticing model of how graphic designers can negotiate a collective outlook, despite being dispersed geographically and having diverse opinions.
‘The experience of running the Eady Forum was a testing ground for our ideas and validated the continuation of those discussions post university’ Post Eady explained. ‘The fact that we worked, thought and fought together to some extent unified our approaches as a group. As the forum was based within the university, Post Eady adopts similar methods but initiates them in “non-academic” contexts as well as academic.’
The Tumblr Manifesto workshops run by Post Eady for London Design Festival and Helsinki Design Week considered the flows of visual information encountered through internet platforms. ‘Identifying Tumblr as a key site for analysing the effects of image flows, we extracted graphic design objects from its feeds’ Post Eady explained. ‘We brought these objects into discussion, taking on the absurd task of reading into and over-intellectualising their graphic languages with our participants. These discussions were then taken, reflected upon and distilled into “incongruous” sentences and fed back into our Tumblr Manifesto, which can be viewed online.’
Considering ‘the accelerated process of creation and dispersion of ideas in our shared digital mixing pot (the internet)’ these workshops provide critique and comment on graphic design practice, exploring what ideologies, visual vocabularies and iconographies reinforce it. While the group recognise that manifestos are ‘perhaps increasingly futile’ their workshops make the case for defending stated positions and establishing a more solidified practice in a time of constant flux. ‘We stand still looking at images flowing in endless streams of flattened content – from Tumblr to Instagram – and through these platforms visual trends develop, disseminate, change and disappear.’
The members of Post Eady live in different locations in Europe and are each working on their own individual projects as freelance designers or artists. They intend to continue running Tumblr Manifesto workshops, experimenting with the format, different audiences and contexts, as well as exploring ways that manifestos can be presented. Working collaboratively on the Eady Forum at the RCA opened up the group to new ways of working, which they have continued to explore since graduating.
‘Working together as the Eady Forum unified our approach (to an extent), which is something that forms the basis for many of our values. As a group we are more interested in working as a loose collective rather than static studio, and openly considering what this can mean. When working collaboratively there is an exchange of ideas, which leads to creating the kind of work none of us would necessarily do alone.’