Who is Dan Slatter (or Andrew Friedman)?

A researcher’s background and position will affect what they choose to investigate, the angle of investigation, the methods judged most adequate for this purpose, the findings considered most appropriate, and the framing and communication of conclusions.’

This CTS was with no doubt the best CTS so far, Andrew fully opened his heart and started going through his own personal (and professional!) growth from the starts to his life as a lecturer at LCC. Was such a blast for me and all of us!

As a headstart for his own story of self-discovery in the society he’s living in, Andrew started his CTS with the powerful meaning of the word Reflexivity (the quote at the start of this blog post) from Malterud, K, which I find very on point and also very close to me. I also think that Reflexivity is what gave Andrew the push to tell his story with such freedom and relax! Well done Andrew!

Dan chosed to tell his story via a personal link to the persona of Dan Friedman: a 360° outsider artist that kept experimenting through art his entire life, without never being linked to just one style. Friedman said in 1994:

I have chosen to define my position as that of an artist whose subject affects all aspects of life. […] In whatever area of speciality, I have wilfully maintained the perspective of an outsider. My goal in working in the “margins” has been to find a fresher view into the centre of things’.

Christopher Pullman recently stated as follow:

Dan Friedman exhibited that rare ability to shift seamlessly between the worlds of education, design, art, writing, and social activism.

As writing was a huge part of the life of both Andrew and Dan, the former also introduced us to George Orwell “Why I wrote?” four great motives for writing, which I personally think they can be applied to lots of fields of expertise, including art:

1. Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood etc..

2. Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement.

3. Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and to store them up for the use of posterity.

4. Political purpose. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the of the kind of society they should strive after. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

The art of (indirectly) repeating yourself

Is it possible to win an election thanks to social media? YES IT IS.

No one ever thought this was even remotely possible, but it happened. Social media helped Donald Trump winning 2016 elections with a bang!

As Hito Steyerl point out in her “In Defense of the Poor Image”(2012), ‘there are people who care enough about photos to convert them over and over again, to add subtitles, reedit, or upload them’. Millions (billions!) of people will get to see them.

This is basically how Donald Trump won the elections.

People will wonder “ If half of the world still despise him, how Donald Trump won the elections? Why he won thanks to social media?“. The answer is around the corner: people still despise him, that’s the secret. People all over the globe got up one day and started to get conscious of this new freak phenomenon ready to rule America. Even if the vast majority kept sharing negative images (the so called memes) of Donald Trump, this endless sharing brought “brand” awareness to a whole new level and the new president-elected himself to a new glory, in no time he became King of the Web!

We could say that differently from Clinton (which created an entire new brand for her 2016 campaign), in order to get elected Trump didn’t really move a finger, his awareness campaign was already set in motion thanks to social media. Even if social media were a huge part of Trump 2016 Triumph, many people were already familiar with his billionaire (playboy philanthropist?) figure due to his famous luxury hotel business, so perhaps this is also another reason why.

There is (still) apparently no undebatable reason why Trump won, people are still getting their heads around it, and if there is even one, only few lobbies knows.

Will we ever know the real reason behind this nightmarish victory?

The Ulm model – Aftermath

For Germany, the devastation of the war, both architectural and moral, had been so complete that the future could only be thought of as a starting point from an absolute beginning.

The Ulm model was created as a necessity to Re-shape the (undetermined) future after World War II required the world, especially Germany, to make a big step ahead and move on, for good. A more minimalistic approach through aesthetically pleasing, futuristic and modern design was taken into account as a starting point for teacher and students to share the same anti-conformist vision, by which the Ulm academy is mostly well-known for.

1-ulm-school-building

This exhibition visually showed and perfectly described what the aim of Ulm designers was; The exhibition venue was formed of three floors, with no particular attention to the order of things. As the curator pointed out, this decision was made to reflect the uniqueness of the Ulm model with the intention of differentiating Raven Row’s venue itself from other “classic” venues that usually have some sort of order (which I rarely get anyway). Works by Hans Von Klier, Walter Zeischegg, Hans Gugelot and Max Bill were shown throughout the exhibition, again with no particular order, making the exhibition a bit hard to understand and lot less enjoyable than I first thought.

There is no doubt that the Ulm model gave us many cutting edge products (and designer aswell!) that led us to nowadays future: an example could be Hans Gugelot’s Braun first black/chrome shaver (1962), products of this type had previously depended upon the medical association of whites and putty colours. Gugelot’s re-design anticipated the development in 1960s of a new product sector in ‘personal grooming’; Another striking example is the visual re-branding for Lufthansa (1963) from former Ulm student Hans Conrad which, after more than half a century, is still pretty much the same.

Kapos, P. (2016). The Ulm Model. London: Raven Row.

The way of the brand tribe

We all belong to something.

With this sentence, Tim introduced us to a new interesting concept: the brand tribes. We all are part of a tribe, a community, a city, a borough, a family and even a political party. Tribes are groups of people who are linked and share the same values. We could think of brand tribes as tribes 2.0: people are linked through things they consume. If “classic” tribes are made by the people for the people, brand tribes are made by brands for the people.

We live in a society where traditions that bound us together are breaking down, slowly taking us to alienating ourselves from others, Putnam says. Another view on the same subject by M. Maffesoli, a french sociologist claims that consumers respond to these potentially alienating and isolating conditions by forming ‘collective identifications’ or as we call them brand tribes. With the evergrowing competition bewteen brands (competitive branding, see last blog post) brands need to rely more than ever on their customer! Therefore, brands need to create a shared belief that helps people to relate to their brand and smash the competition: brand tribes are basically the product born by those brands succeding in this task of relating their customers to the brand.

But how brands succed? Let’s think about the creation of a shared belief as a journey, made of three different steps (do something, become someone, belong to something) that helps customers to understand the brand and fully embrace the brand belief. A striking example is Harley Davidson, a brand that embrace freedom as their shared belief; When thinking of this brand, people always picture themselves in this perfect american dream, riding their chopper all across US on a sunny day. Even if nowadays this is one of the most massive shared belief on earth, this brand (as every other famous brand) put a lot of effort in the creation of a shared belief and became what it is TODAY. 

A brand (new) society…

You, Me, and the brands we know – Week 3

Brands and identities are what nowadays society is made of, literally. We live in a world where brands can be seen in every corner and have the power to shape society itself. As such, we could say that companies use brands to draw us to buy their products and to try to persuade as much people as possible ( I’m referring also to people which aren’t linked to the brand target itself) to try it at least once.

Tim started this week CTS showing us one of the most used (which means it works) and controversial fonts used in modern industry: Helvetica; Starting point for an interesting question he then raised:

we use brand identities to define and design who we are, but how can brands help us to really define ourselves?

Storytelling and narratives are the answer, which are what really define a successful brand. Through this two keywords people can easily relate to a brand (and buy it!). Independence, rebelliousness, caring and creativity are just a few example on which a brand can relies on for a compelling narrative. An example could be Nike (a brand with both caring and creativity driven narrative), that gives its customers the chance to go full creative and customize their own shoes, pretty much the future.

As the second part of our session, JP introduced us to sub-branding and competitive branding: as for the former, a brand could include other brands called sub-brands (not less important): almost like two brands work together for a bigger purpose. An example could be Apple (the main brand) having a partnership with Intel (the sub-brand) for its micro-processor, essential for any computer; The latter is more of an obvious way of doing things: differentiate two products of the same category (e.g kitchen soap) through a complete different approach to the brand image itself.

Autorship & Research

CTS First Week – Autorship & Research

This week we had the chance to meet our library mentor, which ended up to be also our morning lecturer. She introduced us to a couple of very useful and important concepts: research and authorship. The lecture had different tasks and steps to let us investigate into those concept and help us to really understand what might be the most useful and essential task for us in the next 3 years or so. Personally, I have a complete different personal approach to the graphic design world meaning that I’m not used to research much; If course requires research, I wish it wouldn’t be that essential until the point that my marks/progression are determined by it.

The lecture started with the introduction to the concept/definition of an author and authorship saying something that I found very interesting: we are all authors, meaning that we all create something at some point therefore we all are content creators. Even if those two concepts are linked, I think authorship is something more rare: not everyone can have authorship on something, if someone has already got authorship on something is very rare that another person or group of people can take on the former authorship.

Other concept we discussed were context and authority, the former let you understand if a source is useful for your academic research and the latter helps you understand the suitability/reliability of the source. She then concluded talking about critical thinking suggesting that as creative people our critical voice needs to be spread and heard by others.

While she presented us to this lecture she also gave us two tasks to complete. The goals were for us to understand what are the best sources of information (blog, twitter etc) for our research and to let us know that research can also be done just through multiple questions, even if we don’t know much about the subject.

This is one of the two tasks we were asked to complete: they gave us a list of sources of information and in group we had to order the list by importance. We were asked to complete this task twice: at the start of the lecture, and at the end after we learnt more about the importance of source material.

What is GB&I?

Good question…

but we tried to answer that through this huge paper of nonsense thoughts.

Basically if you want to brand something you need first to understand the new/existing identity of the client (e.g backstory,colours etc) and what they want to tell people through their brand new logo (goals, previous achievement etc). After that you can start work visualising the ideas you (and the client!) came up with. After a lots of hard work (and sweat!) your client will finally be happy and you will cash a lot of money!

The first CTS of the years has gone and we can’t wait for the next one already  🙂 (Kidding!)