Thinking about self-identity steered me in a few directions. I had a lot of thoughts and reactions to the case studies from Week 1 which I’ll reflect on later in this blog entry. But my first bit of research went into the concept behind self-identity and the identity of who you are based on where you are.

Double Dagger – More

I recently watched a documentary about the band Double Dagger called If we shout loud enough who started as Graphic Designers. They used their skills as designers to build their popularity as musicians. Within the documentary they discuss how they held a reluctance to let go of their jobs as designers in favour of a music career as they felt being designers was who they were. The interesting point here is that their “fame” came from the secondary function that the design was supposed to assist. Were they graphic designers taking on a music project, or were they musicians who could design?

Their album cover rather prominently features a photoshopped sculpture from their hometown of Baltimore, USA. They discuss in the documentary the importance of where they are from and the music “scene” where they are. Indie bands often operate in this way from my own experiences, the “scene” they belong to often defines their sound. Here their home identity becomes a sense of such importance that this stands as a monument around their music.

You can apparently watch the entire documentary here…
(If we shout loud enough, 2013)

Scenes & Tribes

I began to consider our surroundings and the “scene” we identify with as designers. In the case studies presented on Week 1 of the module, it was evidently very important to the designers that they were in London. Is the London design world a “scene” much in the way the musicians I’ve discussed consider for themselves?

Sam Winston says:

Yet, that said, there is something about this environment where, I don’t know what it is, you’re just putting yourself… if you’re a sponge, and I do see myself as quite a sponge, and you’re in this puddle then you absorb stuff on a much more subliminal level that adds to the mix in an interesting way

The city of Plymouth is where I call home. I didn’t grow up here, but it has become home. In that time I’ve been lucky enough to become a part of the Plymouth Design Forum which was founded by James Edgar and Darren Foley, two staunchly local designers who became more and more disappointed that work for the local community was being contracted out to agencies in London, Bristol or Manchester. As guest lecturers for both the two universities we have with design degrees here in Plymouth the question was raised as to what message we sent to aspiring designers? Get the degree and you might be lucky enough to get to London? Armed with this they sought to bring designers, illustrators and creatives together monthly to dispell internal competition and build a bigger community of creatives around the City. It was inspiring to see how quickly young and old designers alike took kinship in this organisation and it became an identity. It felt as though it added weight to the work we all produced.

Live Laugh Love

The idea of triptych design led me to consider the growing prominence of motivational signs. In particular: Live Laugh Love.
Can a series of words be a triptych? For the sake of this, yes. It can… otherwise my point is moot.

I have an interesting relationship with this poundland prevailing proverb. I’m both deeply disappointed to see the words adorning the walls of my friends bathrooms, but equally fascinated by it.
I did a little reading into it’s origin and the rise of this phenomenom, which I sourced here:

(Live. Laugh. Love. Why?, 2021)

This feels to me very much like it is the zeitgeist of our time summarised in an ever-changing triptych.

A recent discussion with a close friend of mine (also a designer with a passion for bleak creativity in the face of the design industry) resulted in him adapting this saying into his own mantra, based on a sentence I (half remember) saying.

The Gamefication of Identity and Triptych/Quadripytich design

Finding myself a little stuck for direction on the actual outcome of Week 1. I found inspiration in the Dom Sylvester Houedad’s Frog Pond Plop. I was quite taken by the intent to create purpose where there is no purpose. Turning wordplay and the unification of different, but simple things into a game.
This became my direction for my workshop piece. I liked the idea, I wanted to use that.

Dom Sylvester, Frog Pond Plop – Image Source:

The idea of turning wordplay and the mundane into a game is nothing new, but I felt the way I intended to do this would make a statement on the callous and often soulless nature of corporate graphic design. A joke that designers would find funny. I also discovered that realistically, broken down to the basics, this idea would summarise anyone who was working for the man.

As a game designer myself, I have a great deal of respect for the absolute anarchic simplicity of the game Cards against humanity – Do I like it? No. Absolutely not. It’s forced humour. with shock value. But it is an incredibly clever exercise in minimalism and wordplay.

Cards Against Humanity – Image Source:

Peer feedback and Discussion on “Padlet”

Having never used “Palet” before, I found the channel a bit of a challenge. It seems to be a bit of a mess of thoughts and feelings all thrown into one! But diving headfirst in, I collected some feedback from my peers on the Masters course as well as opened what turned out to be a pretty big conversation around privilege within design… that escalated a little, but it was always going to!

On the more straight-forward side, I gathered some feedback around my ideas. I think early on we’re all reluctant to critique perhaps in favour of praise. I’ve no doubt we’ll settle into a way of critiquing work between ourselves in time.
Here are some of the comments around my work as well as around the work of others: