Graphic Design Festival Scotland (GDFS) is a week long graphic design festival held at The Lighthouse in Glasgow. There are competitions, talks, workshops and a 2-day project. Last year I went along to see the international poster exhibition and wasn’t very impressed by it. This year not only did I get to see the poster exhibition, I was given the opportunity to take part in a 2 day workshop with Rob Lowe. Otherwise known as Supermundane.
The workshop I attended was all about making posters. Rob Lowe is quite well known for his unique graphical illustrations but during the 2016 general election he also made a series of posters entitled ‘open your eyes to the tory lies’. This workshop was all about how posters are still relevant in this social media age and how because of the new political landscape they are more important than ever.
The history of posters is really quite interesting, especially how they have been used as a part of resistance movements. Posters have played an important role in France during the uprising in the 70s. They were also important in America during the 60s civil rights movement. The ‘I am a man’ poster being quite iconic.
The thing about these posters is they were all very simple. You have to remember these were all made before Illustrator and Photoshop. Most posters were hand drawn, then copied and distributed. They could be done very fast because of this, but still got the point across. This is what we were looking at in the workshop. Making lots of hand generated posters. There was supposed to be more photocopying involved with this workshop but the festival couldn’t get one in time. As a result most of the workshop was made up as we went along.
We started off by making a poster in three minutes. Then an hour. Then we were all given three random words and had to make a poster based on those words. These were all hand-generated posters. So it meant lots of drawing, and cutting and sticking things down. This actually gave the posters an interesting raw look, I guess if they were done on the computer they would be more polished which isn’t always a good thing.
My three words were ‘send naive honesty‘, I decided to link this with the Voyager spacecraft and how we send information about ourselves into space with no real idea of who or what will find it (yes a lot of my designs have sci-fi themes). So for that I collaged an alien and a little spaceship together out of some images printed on newspaper.
Since the phrases were randomly generated some worked better than others. One of the best ended up being ‘no wrong line’. For the second day of the workshop Rob decided we should create a mural around the phrase one wrong line. This would be something that the whole group could work on and create smaller posters as a part of it. The finished piece would be quite large, and we were actually able to put it on display on the fourth floor of The Lighthouse.
At the end of the two days everyone gathered together to share what each workshop had been doing. There were around 5 workshops in total, each led by a designer or graphic design studio. In addition to the one I was on the had people from MTV showing how to create animations for Snapchat and Instagram Stories. One workshop was about using pizza boxes to create a space (I think they just wanted to eat pizza).
There was a logo design workshop and another led by Wolff Olins all about the ‘other stuff‘ that goes along with branding. I think the people in that workshop must have been terrified when they found out they would be doing “two months of work in two days“. Then you had Studio Dumbar team who were talking to aliens. I’m not even joking, they made cool little animations and had an Encounters of the Third Kind style meeting with an alien. Which they brought along to the end of the event.
This was the first time I had attended an event like GDFS and it took a little getting used to. I was quite nervous about it and kind of went in with the same mindset I have in class. That being the work you produce has to be good. This was made even more intimidating by the fact that there would be actual working graphic designers there. It ended up that the whole festival was very laid back, the work you did didn’t have to be ‘good’. And the whole thing ended up being really enjoyable when I realised this.
If anything I’m sad I didn’t attend more of the workshops. GDFS is held around October time every year and I really would recommend it for any graphic designers in Scotland. It’s especially good if you’re still a student. There are lots of opportunities to meet others working in the industry and if you take part in the live-brief you have the opportunity to win a placement with a graphic design studio. I know that I will certainly be going back to GDFS next year.