Blah Blah Blahnik

Simon Bell

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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    Many commentators on contemporary graphic design agree that the discipline needs to converge meaningfully with writing (Richardson 2010). An interesting outcome of this convergence is the designer as ‘auteur’. Some see this as incompatible with the traditional role of the graphic designer as a communicator and not an originator (Rock 2001), although others see creativity as changing domains and domain-based thinking (Zimmerman, 2009). Creative tension keeps the discipline agile and makes it more responsive. This paper briefly outlines and explains the viewpoints above. It then describes and analyses a one-day writing project for final year undergraduate Graphic Design students at Coventry University, and shows 5 examples of the resulting work. In this project, students were given an image of an intricate Manolo Blahnik high-heeled gladiator shoe, and asked to design an advert persuading female students to wear a pair of these shoes at their Graduation Ceremony. They had to write a story by hand to fit within the shoe. The results threw up discussions about use of space, tone of voice, relative size, ignoring grammatical rules, uncertain reading direction, narrative and breaks in text (Roberts’s ‘conflict of print and sound’, 2000). Given that the project was so short, its yield was rich. It was enjoyable and different: they had never done anything like it before, nor had they had to consider literary theory as part of their interaction with words before. The project made the students look at their discipline and its intellectual credentials in a new way. It also prepared them well for their next, bigger project: magazine design. The paper was well received, eliciting an invitation to work with colleagues in an architectural institution in Poland, and securing existing links with a Spanish colleague for whom I have already reviewed an architectural magazine article.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

    Bibliographical note

    This paper was given at the ICERI (International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation), 19-21 November 2012, Madrid.


    • converging
    • diverging
    • tight
    • suggestion


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