Marc Bessant

graphic art and design



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Fresh back from the emerald shores of Ireland after a weekend of all things designery-finery (well mostly) and ready to spill the beans and raise a toast to the iloveoffset festival. Twas the first of its kind in the original city that never sleeps, Dublin, and i hope there will be more as i really think it can only get better. There were many speakers there, keen to show their wares and on the whole it was an enjoyable and informative event, i do wish there had been more interaction with the audience, perhaps more Q&A or a design ‘Question Time’ affair as it did feel a lot like ‘them and us’ at times and more often than not descended into straight-up portfolio showings – “this is something we did for so and so” “heres one we did for such and such” – in years gone by this sort of thing was appreciated but now, with so many books and of course the internet, i think something more needs to be transmitted once things get personal. Someone who started out with these sort of good intentions was Scott at StudioAAD, keen to advocate a designers responsibility to the job at hand, he was definitely searching for more in what he does and more in what he gives, he avoided the usual designer gripes (altho was adamant he was no longer just the ‘T-shirt Guy’ for those of you that remember Angry) and asked questions of our profession but, sadly, it did slip into a portfolio session albeit a good one. Next up was a warmly spoken chap who goes by the caustic name of ‘Asbestos’, showing all his ‘street art’ shenanigans, at which point i was ready to fly home, but i stuck with it because he does have craft and his work depth beyond its medium, and it didnt slip into the usual (and often trite) ‘police bad/rebels good’ nonsense associated with what is becoming the Mark Ronson of the art & design world. It might be our age but he too seemed to be looking for more of a reason to get up in the morning, to have some emotional connection with his work, certainly the paintings of his family had much more going for them, the constantly peeling of layers and smudging of paint had love in them and was reflected in the finished artworks, but there was still a sense of needing to be part of a hipper social group in some of the other pieces which i was less impressed with. He also had a piece in the Colston Hall show last month so i took the opportunity to say hello, a conversation which didnt go on much after that. i just gotta get hipper! further into the w/e a highlight was Massimo Vignelli, a designer ive been a fan of for some time and, tbh, pretty much the reason i went along. He turned out to be a really nice bloke who seemed very happy with what he had achieved over the years, rarely complaining about the industry (apart from his dislike for marketing and focus groups) and generally being positive which left the audience inspired to be better people and not just better designers. i guess its easy not to talk about your work when it speaks for itself, but he and his wife have really lived the business and they’ve come out smiling – great stuff. Known throughout the world as a prolific type foundry, House Industries has made a considerable impact on the world of design and Designer Rich Roat made an impact here too, with type tales and hot rod fables from over the years, again here was a speaker who clearly loved his craft and it really showed, a great presentation. Tara McPherson‘s talk was fun and informative (despite technical problems), Tara’s attitude to work coupled with an odd sense of humour is what makes her stuff so interesting to me, there is definitely something deeply personal going on in there, not sure what but i think the longer she continues to paint the closer to the answer she’s gonna get and i dont think its gonna be pretty. Another painter/artist also walking the wire goes by the name of Daniel Danger, now this guy had craft, i really like his work and after hearing him talk about his life/history it all makes sense now, a real pouring of emotion in some pieces and anger at loss in others, whatever, his stuff is always quite raw and unsettling yet also strangely nostalgic and comforting, much in the same way i feel about Mark Brabant’s work (altho Mark’s are often more playful) – check him out. There were many others – Peter Blake, Dave Mckean, Chip Kidd, Serge Seidlitz, to name but a few, in what was a well organised event which seemed to cover all the bases. i have never seen so many iphones, limited edition Tshirts and wire-rimmed specs in my life tho, and i have to give a big shout out to one of the doorman whom i had the most conversation with over the event, even tho it was nothing to do with design – thank the lord – as sometimes you just get sick talking about it (and typing about it)