Graphic DesignIllustrationInspirationLondonPrintmakingTypographyLondon Design Festival: Graphics Weekend – Part 1

I’ve always wanted to go to the London Design Festival, but being a student up in Lincoln, I never really got the chance. But this year is different – I’m a Londoner now, and when I saw that there was also a whole weekend dedicated to Graphics I was so excited! And it didn’t disappoint…

Jack & I headed to the V&A just before lunch to meet with the Graphics gang: Sophie, Ben (Lincoln grads) and Soofiya. With my operation and everything I hadn’t really had time to think about which events I wanted to go to, but luckily Soof had alerted me to buy a talk ticket and Sophie had concocted a plan!

First on our list was the talk from the godfather of Letterpress – Alan Kitching.

Alan talked us through the history and development of his work, style and experiments pushing letterpress printing to it’s limits. It was brilliant to see his whole back catalogue and it’s amazing how much I recognised that I didn’t realise was his work. There was one piece I was hoping Alan would talk about, and he did:

Famous for his typographic maps, he was asked to produce a New York City version. In my 3rd year at Lincoln I organised a postcard Auction (you might remember it: Auction 13) with a group of students from my course. We asked creatives to design/sketch/print/create something on an A5 postcard for us to auction off and raise money for our degree show. Alan Kitching kindly obliged and returned a postcard with a section of his NYC map printed onto it. After a bidding war, I’m the proud owner of that postcard so it was lovely to see him talk about the whole piece!

Alan’s a really interesting guy and his work is beautiful. Until recently, I didn’t realise how lucky I was to have access to print making facilities at both college and University. A lot of students have never silk screen printed or used wooden letterpress, which is a real shame and unfortunately down to the rise of technology. I think the 5 of us all left Alan’s talk thinking: ‘I wish that was my job’. To Alan, letterpress is more than his job – it’s his passion.

Feeling so inspired, we headed to the workshop area for some hands on creativity, where we found some friendly faces – the guys from Animaux Circus! It was really busy with everyone cutting, sticking and making their favourite foods:

Sophie, Ben and Jack stayed to make some dinner delights…


(Photos courtesy of Sophie)

… and look at a 3D printed typeface, whilst I headed to a talk from Paula Scher.

Paula Scher is a great lady. I know quite a lot about her after writing my dissertation about her career (and Jessica Hische, Jack Renwick and Kate Moross – Women in Graphic Design) and how she has laughed gender disparities in the industry in it’s face. I knew that I couldn’t miss her talk (how often does she fly in from New York!?) and with Adrian Shaughnessy (the Piers Morgan of the design world – you heard it here first!) asking the questions, I knew it was going to be good.

And I bumped into another friend from college – Luis who I haven’t seen for probably about 5 years! That’s 2 college friends in 2 days – London you’re such a small town 🙂

So back to Paula – Her work might not be everyone’s cup of tea ( sometimes I think most people just say they hate it to get their name in the argument) but she didn’t get to be the first female partner at Pentagram by listening to the haters!

First she talked us through a selection of projects that she is currently working on including Philadelphia’s Art Museum, complete with inter-changeble A’s for personality.

Then she sat down with Adrian for the interview with a range of questions about her career, advice for students and other random bits and bobs – she’s a dog person btw. She was just how I expected her to be – confident, calm and in control. I scribbled down so many inspiring quotes but I’m going to save them for a post of their own. I’m really glad that I went to the talk – I often think about my future as a female designer in the industry and love hearing other people’s experiences and opinions on the matter.

So LDF Graphics Weekend Day 1 was brilliant! I was quite sad that because there was so much on I had to miss some really cool events – I think I need a twin! Did you go to Alan and Paula’s talks too? What did you think? And if you went to something else on the Saturday that was really good let me know.

Tomorrow I’m posting about LDF Graphics Weekend Day 2 so check back for that!

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© Natasha Nuttall | February 2020

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