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15 August 2018
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Wednesday, 26th September 2012
Changing the world is not for everyone
The Drum Truce Commission. Competing agencies design posters for each other.
To mark the international day of peace – also known as Peace One DayThe Drum working with Phil Jones of Podge Lunch fame, launched what has become known as its Truce Commission.

They invited 12 rival design firms to put their rivalry aside and create posters for each other. This was a fascinating exercise on a number of levels.

In terms of the big picture, Peace One Day is all about persuading those engaged in hot wars a across the world to agree to some form of ceasefire, to help the wounded get out, the medics get in and perhaps get some dialogue going. But it is important we too lead by example. If the design profession can’t put aside its petty rivalry, what hope is there for persuading those with more fundamental differences? So the idea for the Truce Commission was born.

However, the exercise also gives fascinating insights on another level. It serves as a reminder of why the industry exists in the first place; to provide objective advice to clients, who are often too close to their own companies to see the wood for the trees. Taking that idea to its logical conclusion means that martketing agencies, should routinely commission other marketing agencies to do their marketing. As the poet Robert Burns rightly commented: ‘O would some power the giftie gie us to see ouselves as otheres see us.’

Drum invited each agency to write a brief, which was then sent to the consultancy with which they were randomly paired. 

Cooke with An E was paired with Interbrand – a David & Goliath scenario! All the agencies selected took part except ...Interbrand, who pulled out of the project at the last minute due to pressure of work. Ironically, the brief Interbrand submitted was effectively for a recruitment ad, so let’s hope they get those additional bodies soon! 

At the Podge Lunch a special supplement was produced by Drum with the pairing of agencies opposite each other. My poster faced a blank page apart from an ‘excuse’ for Interbrand not taking part in 6 point type. It was very disappointing for me not to have a poster created by what is effectively the biggest branding agency in the world, but a new agency Baxter and Bailey took on my Cooke With An E brief and will feature at a future date when the Truce Commission is published online. 

Interbrand’s Brief (edited version): Interbrand want to attract the best, most progressive creative talent with broad horizons who are not afraid to change things and fight for that change (with clients or internally) – talent with passion for other human beings, the industry, design and communication –talent who’s curiosity is never ever satisfied. 

Mandatories: Interbrand Logo Strapline ‘Brands that have the power to change the world’ Contact details Quote Podge Poster Job Enquiry Poster 

Design Rationale: I’ve always loved Steve Jobs’ description of genius – which concludes “... the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things, they push the human race forward. While some may see them as crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who think they are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.” 

Image: A para-phrased and personalised version of the quote. 

The typography at the foot of the poster is discreet but ‘Changing the world is not for everyone’ is highlighted and reinforces the message – only those who think they can really make a difference need apply! The Interbrand strapline ‘Brands that have the power to change the world’ further reinforces the message of change. Drawing inspiration from the Number 1 Brand in the world to market themselves, displays confidence and highlights the Best Global Brands Guide, that Interbrand produce annually (information featured on the poster alongside the Steve Jobs’ credit).

Tuesday, 18th September 2012
Making marks on paper
Drawing for drawing's sake
It had been a year since I’d spent a day on the RCA Alumni Drawing Class...

Last September, I was a month into a new life – an independent designer – for the first time in nearly 30 years, I had time on my hands to do the things I promised myself I would – things that didn’t require me to sit in front of a computer for most of the day – going to see more exhibitions, learning more about the industry I was part of and...drawing – not quick scribbles to work out an idea, but proper drawing, drawing with no expectations, drawing just for the sheer pleasure of making marks on paper. I’d enjoyed that day a year ago (see previous blog post) and I’d promised back then – two things – to do more drawing and to go again the following year. 

So here I was, one year on – a Friday morning on the 3rd floor of the Stevens Building on Jay Mews, with a dozen other middle-aged ex RCA students, a not so middle-aged tutor and a beautiful young model.

Our tutor was Claudia Carr, who was keen to get going and less so on preamble. So grabbing a huge drawing board from a pile, a few sheets of A1 cartridge paper from a freshly opened ream, a few sticks of charcoal and a thick graphite pencil, I set myself up on an easel, excited to make marks on paper. We started with a number of quick poses, which didn’t give us time to get too hung up with detail – just as well! My drawings were as you’d expect, stiff and rusty (very little proper drawing had occured over the previous year). After about half an hour and suitably warmed up we did a series of quick poses using only our left hand (or the hand we didn’t normally use). These drawings were better, looser and less inhibited – so much so, that on our next pose (15 minutes), I decided to use my left hand by choice. I continued to enjoy the session which included drawing without looking at the paper – with 3 crumpled up pieces of masking tape positioned as reference points, chosen beforehand – making us feel and draw while just looking at the model. The final exercise was one minute sketches on small postcard size pieces of paper, where the challenge was to fill the sheet of paper and include all of the model on the page – much harder than it sounds. 

For lunch I was hoping to visit the Senior Common Room – a special place for eating drinking and admiring the art of ex RCA students. I’d been a member for the last five years and had yet to visit. Term hadn’t started and it was closed, so I’ve still to enjoy the experience. The refectory was open to serve London’s Art Dealers who were exhibiting in the main Darwin Building, and after a quick lunch I wandered around the exhibition, admiring work by Hirst, Banksy, Hodgkinson, Emin etc. 

Suitably inspired it was back to the drawing studio. We started by priming A4 sheets of white cartridge with charcoal – as black as we could get. We then had 6 minutes for each pose and we all attempted to recreate the mood and feel of a Degas monoprint by removing the ‘black’ to create light and shade. For someone who invariably draws just in line it was a fun experience, in creating tonal ‘drawings’ quickly – though Degas they certainly weren’t. After getting to grips with the basic technique we then attempted a larger version and had a generous 45 minutes to get our hands dirty. The longer I worked at it, the worse it looked, though Claudia was very generous with her encouragement and praise. The final drawing was to draw different poses of the model, who moved around a stationery easel at 5 minute intervals. 5pm and home time. The day had whizzed by. I took quick snaps of my drawings (to see, click on the thumbnails above) and dashed off to catch my train home. 

Claudia Carr is a great teacher and teaches ‘looking’ – proportion, scale, tone and how one things relates to another spatially, are what you learn on her course. In one day I learnt a lot. Looking at my 'drawings' later, it was obvious that the most successful were the ones I'd done with my left hand – the ones where I'd had less control and just enjoyed the experience of drawing with little expectation – this was more than anything the biggest lesson I learnt – just to 'let go'.