Geotypografika Interview 002: Bernard Caniffe

Designer/Educator. Welsh.


Above: Blue Collar Theory. I know Bernard as an intensely intellectual and
entertaining educator. In this interview, he generously offers his keen insight into
the contemporary world.

Bernard Canniffe: Designer/Educator
Baltimore, USA Estados Unidos
Studio: Blue Collar Theory and Piece Studio

001 ALR Design
002 project {m}


Above: Link to (and from) Project M.

Geotypografika Interview 002 Bernard Caniffe

What developments are you following in the world of
graphic design/typography today?

BC I am following and interested in the social aspects of design in all its forms.
I am concerned with the socioeconomic projections of the UN reports and how this will negatively impact graphic design. The middle class is disappearing and the consumer class is getting smaller and richer with a dramatically increasing poverty class.
Design will soon no longer have a market unless we confront this.

What new developments are occurring specific to your location?
BC We are seeing an increase of designer as author and designer as social collaborator.

Given the astronomical growth (both current and especially projected) of the Indian and Chinese middle class/economies, how long before contemporary graphic design and typography finally recede from “Western” domination, and we see a new global vernacular arising? Or will we witness an inversion, where the dominant Eastern economies impose their visual vernacular?
BC I recently returned from presentations I made at UAE, China and Hong Kong and I was quite amazed with the level of sophisticated design discourse and mature content in all three (understandably HK is part of China) countries. I feel that increased population and financial projections for these countries will soon cause a seismic shift between the importance of east rather than west design aesthetics.

How do you see yourself (or your work) involved in the global state of graphic design? Do you try and address this, for example, by searching for a contemporary voice in your work?
BC I am and have visited many countries and developed social interventions.
These projects give power (financial and verbal) to the disenfranchised.

What avenues for research/global discussion do you regularly visit, online or otherwise?
BC I probably search more economic and political forums rather than design related.

Are you optimistic about the future?
BC I have too much Welsh angst to be optimistic and that’s what keeps
pushing me forward.

What are the most important elements/abilities for a young designer to master in today’s ultra-competitive world?
BC To travel as much as possible and from these travels allow them to become the basis for research, recording and finally comprehension and understanding.

Is teaching typography and graphic design even possible at a truly global scale?
How to account for an audience of this scale beyond the model of the
International Style, etc.?

BC I feel that the academie model of education is dying. The innovative educational leaders will be the ones who can truly use the world as a classroom. Students should be able to come from the US, India, China and study on a specific project in, say, Argentina. Students should have the ability to acquire knowledge and skill sets when they need them and not be force-fed them in specific academic years. I see the classroom and educational model being far more flexible and team-based learning. Business, engineering, graphic and product design students collaborating together from different countries in a specific location. It’s happening a little in European education at the moment but it is far too restrictive.

Are you witnessing a migration of talent to the developing markets in the East?
BC Not so much with print design but certainly with web design. I feel it’s only a matter of time before print design heads east because of the factors I have mentioned earlier. That said east or west is not the issue as everything depends on how we answer the balance between the few who have everything and the many who have nothing.

Your ideas/issues/concerns here:
Design needs to be all encompassing and have the ability to create cross-cultural markets.

Do you feel a sense of an obligation to/concern for a growing global audience for your work in these times of international immediacy (i.e. The WWW)?
BC Yes.

If so, how do you approach this problem?
BC Traveling-record-comprehend-understand and then engage or react.

Domo-arigato-gozaimashtah, Bernard.

2 Responses to “Geotypografika Interview 002: Bernard Caniffe”

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Design and Print Tayside added these words on Mar 31 09 at 2:18 PM

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