Creative Futures 2012: Day 1 Part 1: Angus Montgomery

Angus Montgomery: Design Journalist for Design Week 

What I really liked about Angus Montgomery’s talk was that it came from the perspective of a journalist and not an artist or designer. He talked about a number of issues facing the publication that he works for and us as “the future of design”.

Digital Publishing
Design week is currently moving from a print based publication to a digital one. This is pretty interesting because it’s so symptomatic and representative of the times. I watched a really interesting (and long) program about the New York Times moving to digital (among a whole bunch of other issues) a week or two ago which I felt tied in neatly with what he was saying.

What’s Design Week About?
Design Week reports on the state of the design industry and design education. Key points that Angus raised as being at the center of current debates in the industry were:

  1. How to break into the industry.
  2. The rising cost of education.

Advice for Designers/ Creatives
Angus quoted various sources for these fragments of advice, however my  less-than-lightning note-taking has left a few of them anonymous. Sorry about that.
“Attention must be paid to promoting YOURSELF not just origional your project.” Simon Manship
“You need to market yourself creatively.” Lizzie Mary Cullen, who also raises the following bullet points:

  1. Encourage students to get off the internet. Present yourself as an individual. Don’t be limited by reading the same blogs and looking at the same art as everyone else.
  2. Collaborate. Avoid being reduced to Skype and e-mail to communicate. Get in a studio with others and go out and meet people.
  3. Love what you do and have passion.
  4. Be a professional person.

Paying For Education and the Rise in Tuition Fees

Angus quoted a survey which asked a number of professional designers if they would have been put off getting an arts education had the recent hike in tuition fees happened at the time that they went to university. To my astonishment none of the designers asked said that they wouldn’t have gone ahead with their arts degrees.
Would I have paid £9000 a year to be able to do my degree?
I’m not sure that I can answer that question. I think its a lot easier for designers who have the luxury of knowing that everything turned out alright for them on the other side of art school to be able to say that they wouldn’t change their decision.
The amount of uncertainty I felt about every aspect of my degree before actually starting my course was massive; I wasn’t sure what course I wanted to do, so applied for a mixture of different arts subjects at different universities including “fine art” twice, “illustration”, “art & design” (which I think was illustration and fine art as some sort of combined course) and finally “illustration for graphic novels”. In fact I can remember not even knowing what subject I wanted to do until the last week before you could send your application: I thought I was going to do English Literature! And honestly, if the fees had been £9000 when I was looking to start university, I don’t think I would have done an arts degree at all. Not because I don’t value my arts education, but because I don’t think that there would have been as many people around me supporting my decision. There would have been more grimacing from form tutors, more pleas from careers advice staff to do teaching or from my mum to do English. At 17 I wasn’t brave enough to tell that many grown-ups to fuck off.

“Paying for education makes you value it.” Again, I don’t know if this is something I can agree with. I don’t just not value my 14 years of education before university because they happened to be free. I’m thankful for it and reap the its benefits everyday. Equally, I’m sure there are examples of plenty of people who despite paying large sums of money for their education don’t value it at all and pack in courses half-way through or put in the minimum amount of effort.

Angus then talked about a projects from the past year or so that had been of particular interest to him. There were quite a lot of them; but these were my favourite of those.

300 Million
I found the 300 Million’s work for The Body Shop’s “Stop Sex Trafficking among children and young people.” campaign extremely interesting because of its success in generating visible change.

One Laptop Per Child
Another project that Angus touched upon was the One Lap Top per a Child scheme. This scheme aims to give children in developing countries their own laptop. I found that the idea of “design as problem solving” was most apparent in this project as it was all about creating a fit for purpose tool.

Pearson and Lloyd
 This project for the Department of Health was a very simple, cheap and effective mapping system designed to help combat the problem of violence against staff, reduce patient stress and improve the overall experience of A&E.

St. George’s Crypt
This was my favourite of projects shown to us in this talk. It was an annual report for a charity called St. George’s Crypt which was described as “unflinching” and “moving” and featured six accounts of homeless people that the charity had worked with. It wasn’t a project that “needed” design, most such reports are fairly boring documents and I think that most people (especially me) would have missed this opportunity to do something creative and thought provoking.

All of these projects boosted my confidence in my being able to work towards goals that I care about and projects that are meaningful to me and still be able to make a living.

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This entry was published on March 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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