Ken Garland - what a guy.

I have just come back from another inspirational talk from the West of England Design Forum, this time the star of the show being the absolute beaut that is Ken Garland. 

With his signature hat and cheeky smile he once again stole my heart for the second time (the first time being drinks in a bar at 1am after the Cheltenham Design Festival, but that is another story) with his charm and yoda like ways. 

The theme of the talk being on Protest Graphics (admittedly, not what I was expecting) but was fascinating all the same, looking at the way they have developed from the propaganda of the two sided Northern Ireland issues (ashamedly, something that I really don't know much about, but something I am now going to look into) to the protest graphics of the more recent Occupy London protests. 

He talked us through the work that he did with the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) producing artwork and posters himself, that were widely used, and also to other forms of protest graphics, most of which appears on large scale on the walls of building. Work such as the Cable Street mural, based on a riot that took place in 1936, yet the artwork did not appear on the wall until the mid 1970s. All of this artwork and graphics, all designed for a cause, all designed for a reason whether it be to rally people and their emotions to take action, or to remember the struggle that people had been through, for various causes that they felt important and gave them a voice. All this has really got me thinking about the work that I do myself, what its purpose is, why do we do it, what reaction do we want it to have? 

Cable Street.jpg

Seeing these various murals and artwork relating to protests and political issues within society has got me thinking more to the meaning behind the graffitti around Bristol, rather than just another piece of art 'that looks well good'. A question from the audience about Ken's thoughts on the Mild Mild West Banksy work made me realise I don't actually know what it is referring to, if anything. The numerous amounts of protest graphics around Bristol, do they have a viable cause? Or whether it is just another product of the 'Marlon Brando syndrome' that Ken mentioned - 'What are you protesting about?' - 'What have you got?' is it protest for the sake of protest, or protest for a cause? 

Ken also talked alot about the Occupy London protests, which he is so passionate about he has created a logo for, and had captured a lot of interesting photography from. It was interesting to hear him say that he takes his cues from the younger generation, when it seems that we look to designers like him to take our cues from. Its a never ending cycle! 

I won't babble on for much longer, but leave you with a few quotes that I managed to scribble down at the end of the talk, they may not be completely accurate so take them with a pinch of salt!

The work we call amateur is the work we love doing. Much of the work we do is amateur as far as the fact that we are loving while we are doing.
— Ken Garland, 2014
The work that we end up loving the most ( the most proud of) is the work done while loving.
— Ken Garland, 2014
Don’t be disallusioned (by the design world) it can still be a craft, a trade that is full of problems but full of satisfaction.
— Ken Garland, 2014
(One of the main problems we have) is the problem of amateur (designers) pretending to be professionals... in what way are we better than the untutored? In what way do we have the right to charge a fee? How are we to assert professionalism over the use of computer aids (used by amateurs)? I am still looking for the answer!... But if it is done with heart and real feeling it will show.
— Ken Garland, 2014
We must be careful that we don’t tidy up the rough edges of ideas to make them award worthy, but at the same time kill (the idea).
— Ken Garland, 2014
Young people expect too much from their training (as in University degree) as they are paying too much for it... you need to take the financial side out of it...you have to make your own way... take tips from your tutors and go with them... don’t eexpect too much.

Don’t expect to be fully equipped for anything!
— Ken Garland, 2014