Featuring a panel of passionate speakers this forum addressed an issue not often discussed in an Australian context — political engagement in contemporary graphic design. Why are designers so hesitant to take a political stance? Should graphic design really be neutral?
This was followed by 90 minutes of the world's finest typo-films.
For those still after another typographic 'hit', a bus tour of typo-sites offered an insight into some of Melbourne's most intriguing letterforms. Two friendly tour-guides (Banham & Budge) furnished each site with cultural & historic descriptions, allowing plenty of photo opportunities for type-spotters.
Andrew Budge is a principal and co-founder of Designland, an award winning Melbourne design practice, whose work has been published internationally. Andrew has a passion for all things typographic, has written for Desktop magazine, talked typography on national radio and lectures in design at Melbourne's RMIT, all in between briefs at his busy studio.
Steven Cornwell is the founder and CEO of Cornwell Design. The studio now operates in Melbourne, Sydney and is appointed to consult on brands in Australia, Asia and the Middle East. Over the last 14 years the studio has grown to a 35 person operation winning awards for its innovative brand strategy, identity and communications programs. Steven is also heavily involved in community projects through sponsoring programs including The Melbourne Prize and Melbourne Fringe, as well as supporting charities such as the Victorian Cancer Council and Camp Quality.
Jason Grant is a director of Inkahoots. The studio began as a community access screenprinting collective, and 15 years on, continues to hustle for social change as a graphic design practice. He has spoken at numerous national and international conferences and universities. Inkahootsâ€™ work has been published around the world. Jason recently returned from a sabbatical in London where among other things he art-directed and wrote for Eye magazine. Jason has studied traditional karate since he was 14 and hopes the debate will provide a rare opportunity to hone some of the art's more lethal techniques.
Stephen Banham is founder of Letterbox. Throughout his 15 years of practice, Stephen has written and produced 12 publications on the cultural aspects of typography as well as lecturing on the subject at RMIT since 1991. He has spoken at type events from New York to Barcelona, New Zealand to Beirut. Perhaps his most renowned use of graphic design as social metaphor was the Death to Helvetica movement.
I attended the Character forum last Saturday. I would just like to say thanks to you and RMIT for organizing the event. It was stimulating and I picked up a lot of insights. It would have been nice if the forum went a bit longer as the discussions were interesting. Hope you guys organize similar events soon.
Just thought I'd write and let you know how great the Character forums were. It's fantastic to have some critical discussion of design in Melbourne / Australia, and hopefully you have plans for these forums to become a regular event. I thought Character 2 was really interesting, mainly due to yourself and Jason Grant. Though I found things such as the film festival, bus tour and some of the talks really enjoyable, I thought the discussion sections of both forums probably the most interesting aspect, and maybe could have been expanded. Anyway, I thought you might appreciate some feedback. I think the forums were really worth while and look forward to hopefully some more in the future.
Congrats on Character 2. Has generated quite a bit of discussion here at Swinburne today amongst the students...
Just wanted to say congratulations to you and your whole team of helpers on a great weekend of events. All your hard work obviously paid off and it was a great turn-out to both nights. Well done!
Couldn't make it to Sunday's mystery tour — is it possible to have the itinerary? You managed to set up some fine disagreement there with your selection of panellists. I was particularly struck by Jason's remark that graphic design has become the primary vehicle for the promotion of a certain ideology.
Just wanted to say top job on Saturday â€” For a free seminar, it was worth its weight in gold.
Just wanted to let you know that I thought Character 2 was fantastic especially the forum. As you suggest, I think this idea of 'serving and educating' is really important for the development of our profession.