I am delighted to announce that confessions of a design geek is a media partner for designjunction 2012.
designjunction launched at last year’s London Design Festival and this year is taking over a 1960s sorting office as the backdrop to over 100 international brands, smaller cutting-edge labels, design shops, installations, pop-up restaurants, bars, and cafes, working ‘flash’ factories, and live entertainment. I can’t wait! I’ll be featuring the space and some of the exhibitors on the blog over the coming weeks. First up, I spoke to Camilla Parsons, director of graphic art gallery, Outline Editions.
What’s so special about graphic art?
The whole street art phenomenon of the last ten years has shown that there’s a public appetite for interesting, accessible art that doesn’t require reference to 500 predecessors to understand it. As with street art, graphic art is instantly readable but in pure technical terms the quality is generally higher – so in a way it’s a step on. And whereas fine art trades on elitism and the fact that there is only one unique object, graphic art is the opposite – it’s more friendly and made for sharing.
How did the idea for Outline Editions first come about?
My background is in music and TV production and my business partner, Bill Tuckey’s is as editor of the Independent on Sunday magazine. For a number of years we’d been commissioning work from graphic artists and illustrators in our respective jobs. We both felt it was a shame that you’d see these amazing illustrations once in a magazine, newspaper or promo on TV and then never again. We used to run a gallery together called the Slaughterhouse, in a disused space in Smithfields, so had lots of experience curating exhibitions with both emerging and internationally established artists. We started chatting through some ideas and were interested in the way graphic artists were moving away from commercial projects and focusing on personal work – we really wanted to get this amazing artwork out there to a wider audience and set up Outline Editions to do that.
What was the hardest part about getting it off the ground? And the most rewarding?
The hardest part was setting up the business side of the company; creating spreadsheets and setting up systems (not things I like doing!).
The most rewarding was the feedback and response from the press and public to our first collection of specially commissioned prints at our pop-up gallery on Marshall Street, which included pieces by Anthony Burrill, Kate Moross, Klaus Haapaniemi and David Foldvari.
Another one of the most rewarding things was finding Kristjana S Williams, an amazing Icelandic fabric designer at the time, and approaching her to work with us to turn her designs into limited edition prints for Outline Editions.
And seeing our collection launch Liberty’s in November… and Cut It Out being nominated for Design Museum Designs of the Year Award earlier this year!
Tell me about a really good day in the life of Camilla Parsons? And a bad day?
A good day would be spending the day putting the finishing touches to an exhibition or collection with the artists.
A bad day for me is when my husband drags me to a football match and all I want to do is go to an exhibition or shopping!
What is your favourite part of your job?
Working with all the artists, getting to know them and discovering new artists.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?
I would set up an agency representing graphic artists.
What are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s London Design Festival?
It’s very hard, as there are so many amazing things to see, though these are definitely at the top of my list: our exhibition “Anachoroquarianism” by Kristjana S Williams (of course!), the eclectic mix of design at the Townhouse curated by Jane Withers, and I can’t wait to see Keiichi Matsuda and Rolf Sach’s installations at the V&A too.
Why is it important to you to be part of a show like designjunction? What have you got planned for the show?
Following on from our exhibition Cut It Out by Noma Bar, we wanted to find a destination space to launch our new collection of graphic art prints by the most outstanding and innovative practitioners of the graphic art scene alongside designers from different disciplines, celebrating graphic art as an integral part of international design. designjunction was a perfect fit for us with an amazing selection of international design brands and events throughout the festival and a great balance between commercial and creative.
We’ll be launching our new collection of exclusive limited edition prints for the Festival, including a series of six brand new exclusive prints by award winning graphic artist Noma Bar; intricate fantastical prints by Icelandic illustrator, Kristjana S Williams; woodblock posters by Anthony Burrill; bold graphic pieces by Scandinavian designer Petra Borner plus exclusive prints by Marion Deuchars and Malika Favre. Prices will range from £40 to £530 and prints will available at designunction and via our website.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to set up their own small business in design?
Do extensive research into the area you want to go into and the competition. Ideally find a gap in the market to make your business unique but make sure it’s commercially viable too. Speaking to other small friendly businesses is always really helpful way of getting advice on setting up.
What advice would you give to someone investing in their first artwork?
If you have a particular wall space at home you’d like the picture to go, note down dimensions to make sure the artwork fits the space. Take the time to look round several galleries or an art fair and keep a note of the pieces you like, plus the artist, size and price. See if there are any postcards or pictures of the work that you can take away with you for reference.
Galleries are always keen to answer any questions, so don’t be shy!
When you’ve found a piece (or pieces) you like ask about the artist’s history or for a biography of the artist. Ask how the work was made, the measurements of the piece, and what forms of payment are available – many galleries now offer interest-free instalment schemes.
Take a bit of time out and think through the choice of your favourite artworks and go back to look at them again with a fresh pair of eyes to make the final decision. If you feel you need more time thinking time, ask if they could “reserve” the artwork for you and come back the following morning having looked at the wall space again at home to decide if the artwork is the right fit for it (galleries usually ask for a deposit).
If the piece(s) are out of your budget, ask if there are any other artworks by the same artist, or in a different medium. Original prints, such as screenprints, are a great entry-level option, and can also offer the chance to buy work by a big name.
What have you got planned for the future? What’s your ultimate ambition for Outline Editions?
We have a packed schedule of events coming up in September including our solo show “Anachroquarianism” by Kristjana S Williams and designjunction for London Design Festival.
In October our Cut It Out project with Noma Bar travels to Amsterdam for a six-week exhibition, plus a series of workshops and events throughout – we’ll be working on this with Noma to develop the project even further for the Amsterdam show.
We’ll also be part of the Affordable Art fair in Hampstead from 1st until 4th November; exhibiting and selling our Winter collection including new pieces by our stable of artists and new graphic artists too. In December we have a pop-up in Stoke Newington and the West End too (at the same time!).
Our plans next year include working with Noma Bar on his next exciting project for London Design Festival 2013 plus a rolling programme of exhibitions and events throughout the year.
Our ultimate ambition is to have a concession at Liberty’s and a separate arm to the company showcasing and selling originals by our artists plus secondary market artworks. We’re planning to do a series of exhibitions internationally too.
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
Artworks from top by: Anthony Burrill, Krisjana S Williams, Marion Deuchars, Petra Borner and Noma Bar.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
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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