interview :: alan clarke

Katie | August 6, 2012

Alan Clarke Olympic TfL posters Fencing and Sailing

Alan Clarke designed a set of Olympic wayfinding posters as a proposal for Transport for London as part of a self-initiated project while studying at University College Falmouth. Despite the fact they weren’t part of any official campaign, they got picked up by Creative ReviewNosiy Decent GraphicsLondonistD&ADMinistry of TypeIt’s Nice ThatDigital Arts and Wallpaper*. And of course UCF’s alumni magazine, Scratch. Not bad, before he’d even graduated! I was keen to find out more.

What was the process you went through, from coming up with the initial idea, to finalising the design?

While studying at Falmouth I was taught a process for coming up with ideas. I always start with identifying the problems and challenges within the brief. Then I break down and analyse what I am trying to do. I begin to gather research from many different sources to help me come up with ideas  – and start lots of drawing and quick sketches. In the case of the Olympic posters; I was inspired by the work of Otl Aicher; the simplicity and clarity of his work for the 1972 Munich Olympics, and Josef Albers’ work on colour theory.

My working methods are quite reductive, I wanted to simplify the communication to its most simple elements. I was also interested in creating communication that would speak to people from all around the world coming to London for the Olympics.

Alan Clarke Olympic TfL posters Velodrome Stadium

You’ve received some amazing coverage, while some of the feedback on the official posters has been quite negative. How do you feel about this?

I suppose there is always a bit of negativity in design. Everything is subjective and everyone has a right to their opinion. I didn’t do them for other designers. The purpose of the project for me was to convey my passions within graphic design and communication.

Why is the Cultural Olympiad an important part of the Olympics?

I think art and design have a really important part to play within all elements of life and culture – in the Olympics it should be no different. It [the Cultural Olympiad] brings people together and has the power to inspire and influence viewers. It also gives the host nation a chance to show off their creativity and flair.

Alan Clarke Olympic TfL posters Diving and Cycling

What’s the importance of the Olympics – to you, to London, to the UK?

I think the Olympics is a great thing, I have always been influenced by watching athletes at the top of their game, working to become the best in the world. Watching the 100m sprint, swimming and diving always have me on the edge of my seat. It helps people engage with sport and enthuses people to be the best in whatever they are doing; sport or otherwise. It’s such a big world event. It will be a great thing for the world to come and see London and the UK.

What are you most proud of?

Getting a degree and being able to earn money doing a subject I actually enjoy.

What influence did University College Falmouth and living in Cornwall have on your work?

I think UCF has had a huge influence on my work. The tutors and other students have helped mould me into the designer I am today. The working and natural environment at Falmouth during the graphic design course helped me become more creative and driven.

Further reading for the especially geeky:

Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

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