Graphic Design and Illustration
Liverpool School of Art & Design

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  1. I Don’t Love Soccer Because Soccer Has Never Loved Me

    To mark Roy’s Boys early return from the Brazil World Cup staff are launching a publication and exhibition of artwork that has taken a critical look at “the beautiful game” through the lens of graphic design and illustration. 

    Our friends at Bold Street Coffee have kindly donated their wall space and are hosting the publication launch on Wednesday 25 June, from 6.30pm.

    We have produced an edition of 90 publications, of which 45 will be on sale on the night, at a very respectable price of £5. The publication and exhibition consists of artwork produced in response to a 1978 essay by Italian scholar, writer and semiotician Umberto Eco about football and the World Cup. The publication has been designed by Jon Spencer and printed in-house using our Risograph.

    A project website has also been designed and built by Chris Jackson.

  2. Graduate Profile 2014 – Niamh McGee

    Illustration student Niamh McGee is one of this year’s best and most prolific printmakers. She also took on a short internship at London based illustrator, Jimmy Turrell’s studio this year. She’s now part of The Green House Collective set up by a group of this year’s graduates, operating out of an old warehouse in the Baltic area of the city.

  3. Graduate 2014 Profile – Malik Thomas-Smeda

    Illustration student, Malik Thomas-Smeda, is a man in demand. Following in the footsteps of many of our graduates, Malik will soon be featured as artist of the month by North West online arts magazine The Double Negative. And after a 3rd Year collaborative project with The National Football Museum it’s now looking likely that he’ll now been commissioned to produce another 6 illustrations for the museum.


    Illustration from National Football Museum project.


    Pompidou Centre drawing. Featured in large print format in the degree show.

  4. Graduate 2014 Profile – Jess Heaton

    Each year one lucky graduate segues perfectly from education to employment. This year it’s the turn of  illustration student Jess Heaton, who last week started working as junior graphic designer at Boohoo online fashion retailer in Manchester. Luckily she was allowed to take some time off to attend the Private View and check out the huge print of her work installed in the show.

    Large format print signature piece for the degree show homepage

  5. Offset Dublin

    Our intrepid reporter, Mike O’Shaughnessy has finally submitted his piece on the recent Offset design conference that our 1st and 2nd Years went to. Here it is…

    Offset is a Showcase of International Illustrators, Graphic Designers and Animators. This was the fifth year Offset has ran and it was our first trip with L4 and L5 Illustration and Graphic Design students. Previous speakers have included Stefan Sagmeister, Bob Gill and Oliver Jeffers. There are three days of one hour talks plus interviews and discussions. This years big draws were Marian Bantjes and Neville Brody.

    French Illustrator Genevieve Gauckler gave a witty and self-deprecating insight into her world.

    Bjorn Rune Lie appeared slightly hung over – as were most of our students. The opening Offset Event Party went on to the early hours of Friday Evening. Bjorn’s talk was a real education, he revealed all his influences and discussed his technique.

    A big favourite with all the male Graphic Designers was Jessica Walsh. The fact that she had appeared naked for a Stefan Sagmeister publicity shot, proved to be a big draw for all the young male attendees.

    Ex – Liverpool student Richard Turley gave a big shout to all the Liverpool students in the audience and talked very fondly about his time as an undergraduate. His design approach was clever and irreverent. Unlike some of his American counterparts, like Mike Perry, he didn’t use the captive audience as excuse to celebrate what he did.

    The overall student feedback was really positive.

    “mmmmmmmmmm” level 5 Illustration






  6. Guest Lecture – Al Murphy

  7. Mad-graphic-skills

    It’s official, our graduates have mad skills!

    There was a great review of Liverpool based graphics talent in Shellsuitzombie’s Mad Skills Monday round-up this week. Recent graduates; Milos Simpraga, Tom Rogers, Sam Howard, Rheannon Ormond, Lottie Brzozowski and Rachel Davey were all featured. Hopefully this is evidence of a new wave of creative talent hitting the city…

  8. Graduate update – Sophie Gordon

    Congratulations to recent graduate, Sophie Gordon (2013), who has just secured her dream job at Children’s Book publishers Nosy Crow. Many thanks should also go to another of our graduates - Kristina Coates, who works at Nosy Crow - for alerting us and Sophie to the opportunity.

  9. AGI Open London Review

    Last week I was lucky enough to take 22 of our 2nd and 3rd Year students to the AGI Open design conference at The Barbican in London. The two day event, billed as “the World Cup of graphic design”, included debates, discussions, interviews and keynote lectures from the great and the good of the profession. Almost all speakers at AGI Open are AGI members. Gaining membership is something akin to becoming a mason. So it was no surprise that the majority of the speakers were male (and of advanced years). Something that hadn’t been lost on detractors of the conference when it was launched back in the spring. The reason not to attend AGI for one middle-age white male twitter critter was “to escape the dominance in the UK of middle-age-white-men talking about design”. Being a middle age white man myself, this wasn’t reason enough for me to stay away. However the gender imbalance was quite painful to see and not lost on the audience or the conference organisers. The issue did however reach a very ironic conclusion at the end of the conference - but more of that later.

    Despite the great line-up, the conference did open slowly. The theme of Day One was self-initiated work, or ‘non-client work’. My expectation was that we’d have lots of discussion about the new business models afforded to graphic designers and illustrators by the internet and the new opportunities to self publish. Disappointingly the opening panel discussion could have taken place at any time over the past 20 years. Too often a distinction was made that self-initiated work was somehow non-commercial. Patrick Thomas was particularly keen to tell us that none of his work was commercial anymore. The question that wasn’t asked was ‘how does he make a living’. He is able to run three studios out of Barcelona, Berlin and London, yet his work isn’t commercial? Astrid Stavro and Pablo Martin did bring the debate up to date when they presented their socially driven work in Mallorca. The term pro bono was mentioned but without any real explanation or discussion about its implications for the profession. A shame considering that this socially driven work is such an area of interest for students and graduates at the moment.

    The first session was best summed up in a tweet from Creative Review quoting Ian Anderson’s contribution - “Treat self-initiated work as a playground. Not just to have fun but to experiment”. Mmm, clearly everyone needed to warm up a bit. 

    The second debate, with a slightly lesser known panel, was an improvement. Hamish Muir explained how back in the day 8Vo funded the seminal Octavo publication thanks to printers and typesetters offering their services upfront. Interestingly he didn’t think that the magazine had attracted more clients. Rather it had enhanced 8Vo’s reputation. He briefly mentioned the difficulty of marketing his latest digital publishing venture Outcast Editions using Apple’s App Store. To quote: “it’s like dropping something down a well and waiting to hear the splash”. Surprisingly it was only right at the end of this session that the word “entrepreneurial” was mentioned. I can’t remember anyone talking about their audience becoming customers and the subsequent implications on their work. Again a missed opportunity.


    The afternoon started with a highly entertaining debate between a panel of so-called Roundheads and Cavaliers. This debate, which focussed a large part on aesthetics and style, form and function, again seemed a little old-fashioned. The preoccupation with style something that is rarely a major concern for design criticism anymore. However the debate was great fun, and all the panel entered into the spirit of it with enthusiasm. It was also our first opportunity to hear Stefan Sagmeister, who threatened to dominate the debate with the sharpness of his argument in favour for variety, embellishment, ornamentation and just not being boring. The roundheads delivered some good comebacks - especially Dean Poole from New Zealand’s Alt Group. But the argument for Less is More was clearly lost when Marian Bantjes and Stefan reviewed their opponents studio websites that all looked almost identical. They even redesigned them. Cruel but necessary.


    The first day ended with keynote speaker Peter Saville interviewed by Rick Poyner. The interview cleverly brought together several strands from the day: fashion and style; self-initiated work; the market; and the thorny issue of designer as artist. The interview was my highlight of the conference. It was a privilege to hear someone reflecting on their career in such a thought provoking way. Poyner’s questioning was critical and he responded to Saville’s often provocative answers, with further probing. It wasn’t quite Frost Nixon, but it was possibly as good as it gets for a graphic design conference. Saville is clearly tired of the graphic design profession. His concern now is the art world. It’s a world that he sees allowing him to say the things he wants to say, free from the compromises placed on him from the world of commercial design communication. A place that he chided as “not a place where you can express your own ideas”.  You could tell that this was an uncomfortable message to hear for an audience of graphic designers. Particularly when he stated that when we act as communication designers we are “not setting an agenda, we are delivering an agenda.” At this point it would have been interesting to get Ian Anderson and the rest of the first panel back in for a far more lively debate. Saville saw his reconstruction as a “Fine Artist” as finding the market that puts the least compromises on him. He talked enigmatically about “non-places of the interzone between design and art”.

    Much of this I suspect alienated a good portion of the audience, however his ideas on art and design struck a chord with me. Our Graphic Design and Illustration programme did go by the name Graphic Arts just a few years back. We have sat temporarily in departments of design and art. Many of our staff have quite autonomous practices (yet still refer to themselves as Illustrators or Graphic Designers). Our students have participated in a number of collaborations with the Fine Art programmes in the last year. This issue has been floating around my head for a month or so now , and it was fascinating to hear such a singular perspective from one of the greats of the graphic design profession. More will hopefully follow when I finally finish another post about the very subject of the recent design and art collaborations we have undertaken.

    If the ambition of Day One was about matters of a more cerebral nature (even if the ambition wasn’t always matched), Day Two was about pure entertainment. Jan Wilker and Hjalti Karlsson were made to endure a graphic designer’s version of Mr and Mrs via a transatlantic Skype hook-up to test the authenticity of their design partnership.


    Everyone loved Margaret Calvert, although Margaret acted as if she certainly didn’t love being on stage taking about herself! But Day Two was dominated by three US based speakers. illustrator Christoph Niemann, graphic artist, publisher and all round entertainer Chip Kidd and finally the return of Stefan Sagmeister. All three were the consummate professionals, captivating the audience with amazing work and their wit and intelligence. Christoph Niemann even managed to move the audience to tears when he played his animated response to a radio interview by the late Maurice Sendak.

    The day concluded with Sagmeister’s lecture on happiness. All the introspection and self-doubt delivered by Peter Saville 24 hours earlier was banished by the world’s leading graphic design auteur as we participated in a group sing along. Apparently it is fact that singing in groups makes you feel happy! Sagmeister has also discovered that the mere process of completing a job properly or bringing an idea to life is also key to feeling happy. He challenged the audience to send him an email with something that they wanted to achieve in the next month. He would send them a reminder in 4 weeks time. Thankfully he won’t need to send me a reminder as I am just about to complete the task I’d set myself…

    All that was left was for an olympic’s like handing over of the graphic’s torch to next year’s AGI hosts, Sao Paulo. For once there were more female’s on stage than men. It just so happened that they were scantily clad Brazilian carnival dancers and not graphic designers! 

    Oops! Well at least Adrian Shaughnessy looked suitably embarrassed.


  10. Degree Show 2013

    This year’s degree show has been open now for over a week. Without wanting to blow our own trumpets the Graphics exhibition looks fantastic as ever, with some outstanding work on show. Check out the photos below - hopefully we’ll have some better quality ones shortly. The shows open for the rest of the week, from 10am – 6pm. All welcome.


    The smaller studio exhibits a range of print and digital work from graphic design students this year. Including experimental motion type, floor projections, video archives of books and publications, vinyl type and traditional printed posters


    A series of framed portraits by illustration student, Tom Fowler are exhibited in the corridor. The series of ink drawings is titled ‘THERE ARE PSYCHOPATHIC TRAITS IN ALL OF US’ and described as “Glib and Superficial Charm. Grandiose Self-Worth. Pathological Lying. Cunning and Manipulativeness. Lack of Remorse or Guilt. Parasitic Lifestyle. Promiscuous Sexual Behaviour. Irresponsibility. Callousness and Lack of Empathy. Poor Behavioural Controls”


    3 publications exhibited in one of our much coveted display cases. Each publication was designed, printed and bound in house by graphic design students using the courses printing facilities.


    Illustration projects exhibited in the larger studio. These are by Reuben Barr (left) and Rachel Davey (right)