Brian Webb Canterbury College of Art United Kingdom – I Used to Be a Design Student

BRITISH

Brian Webb

STUDENT YEARS

6

A PIECE OF SOUND ADVICE + A SINGLE WARNING TO A DESIGN STUDENT

Don’t ever apologize for a job + If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it

FAVOURITE FOOD THEN

Chinese

YOUR MOST VALUED POSSESSION THEN

Books

YEAR OF PROJECT

1966

STUDENT PROJECT BRIEF

Design a poster for a lecture

COLLEGE

Canterbury College

of Art (United Kingdom)

TUTOR(S)

Stanley Hickson, Head of College

TECHNOLOGY

5×4 negative and photographic print, Letraset type

TIME SPENT

2 weeks thinking, 2 days doing

TYPEFACE

Cooper Black Italic

WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS PROJECT?

My student piece isn’t one of the best things I did at college, but it is memorable for several reasons. It was designed in 1966. It’s a poster for a lecture by Arnold Schwartzman, who had been at college a few years before me. He was working at ATV television at the time and went on to win an Oscar for his Los Angeles Olympics film. The reason it’s memorable for me is that it was about that time I discovered ideas rather than decorating the surface. The lecture was going to be on TV graphics. I thought if I photographed a TV screen (ideally with an image of Schwartzman on it), enlarged it to poster size and called it Between the Lines, that it would make an interesting poster. First problem: I didn’t own a TV set. The photographing of TV screens was hit and miss with a 5×4 plate camera and I only had a couple of sheets of film.

A friend at college had an old portable TV. There was a lunchtime news programme; I wanted a face and Harold Wilson (the prime minister at the time) appeared on the screen and I took two quick shots. The negatives were very thin when I processed them, but enough to get an image – now I could do it easily on a computer. As I looked at it, I thought the prime minister should be announcing the lecture in a TV-screen-shaped speech bubble. In close up the image was pretty crude. I had thought of putting the type between the lines. As a large poster you could read the face; close up you could read the type, and the image at 425 lines per inch became a pattern. I began to like design with several layers of meaning.

OUTCOMES

Design is more than surface decoration.

FEEDBACK

Arnold liked it.

ANYTHING ELSE

Most of the projects I did at college were typeset and printed letterpress.

PROJECT SIMILARITIES THEN AND NOW

An idea doesn’t have to be instant; it can sneak up and tap you on the shoulder.