Graphic Design Festival Scotland

by George Kirk

Last month I ventured up North, and across the border to attend the Graphic Design Festival Scotland. Based in Glasgow, the festival had been on my radar since I was at University, so finally getting the opportunity to attend was exciting and it definitely did not disappoint.

The festival kicked off in the Mitchell library with Topform, a set of talks from industry leaders. A few of them being: Claudia Klat & Jonathan Nielsen of SPIN, Stephen McGilvray of Wolf Ollins, Liza Enebeis & Suzon Hauchard of Studio Dumbar, Harry Pearce of Pentagram and Rob Lowe more commonly known a Supermundane. Each speaker focused on a different topic from Harry Pearce’s humanitarian work and emphasized the importance of side projects to Supermundane’s poetry reading and song about font. Despite the diversity of topics, all of the speakers seemed united in response to one question in particular…

Following the recent design press’s defamation of the Science Museum rebrand by north, the panel was unanimous that this ‘over-criticism’ can be damaging to both a company and an individual. Harry Pearce recounted Pentagram Partner Paula Scher’s experience when she rebranded the Public Theatre which was met with disdain by the public and design press at the time but is now regarded as pioneering and way ahead of its time. Stephen McGilvray also noted that often the first review of a piece of design will often set the tone for all that might follow. This made me empathise and consider the implications of publically criticising other people’s work, and slightly fearful that at some point in my career I may have to face mass criticism from the design community.

  • Following these talks was the grand opening of the International Poster Competition in the Lighthouse Gallery. The calibre and diversity of the posters was astounding and I am no longer bitter about not making the shortlist…honest.

    The following 3 days comprised of two workshops. The first of which was run by SPIN and focused on reductionist branding. In this workshop I began to design an experimental, modular and adaptive typeface, something which I plan on developing as a side project.

    The second workshop was with the Signpainters, Ciaran Globel and Rachel Millar. I went into this workshop with my usual (misplaced) Gusto. Knowing that I am a fairly competent painter, I assumed that by the end of the 6-hour workshop I would be an absolute pro. I immediately thought that this would be an excellent addition to my CV and boy, was I so wrong! Ciaran began the workshop with a demonstration, in which he painted a few immaculately straight lines squaring each off with a well-timed lift of the brush. It was enormously difficult, in fact getting the paint to the correct consistency and palleting the brush correctly was an art form in itself. All this being said, it was brilliant fun attempting a new skill and I have a new found respect for how difficult signpainting is.

  • I was looking forward to experiencing some of the trademark ‘edge’ and grunge of Glasgow in the down time between activities. But at the end of trip I ended up with 2 hours prior to my train home for sightseeing in which I walked from my Airbnb in the rather posh west end, to Glasgow School of Art and then down Sauchiehall Street none of which equated to the Trainspotting-esque scenes I was hoping for. Though this is by no means a complaint as had the festival not been so jam packed with brilliant activities and events I would’ve had ample opportunity to frivolously sightsee.

    Bravo to the team at Warrior Studio who organised the festival. It was a brilliant experience which I would recommend to anyone!

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