Art director, typographer and all around creative guy, Mr Craig Ward, not only enjoys playing with the design of words, but he has a lot to say when it comes to graphic design. So he put his words of wisdom down on paper and on December 1st (now available for pre-order) his first book will release titled – ‘Popular Lies About Graphic Design‘. We got a sneak peek of the book and the details in the interview below (scroll down).
What lie or who lied to you about graphic design that triggered you to write this book? I don’t know think it was one lie in particular as opposed to an accumulation of bad advice … In industry you can end up working with and for all sorts of people of varying ability who can try and project their own opinions on you and your work. Because they’re more experienced, you take this information and run with it and it’s this passing on of diseased knowledge that makes people say stupid things like ‘All you need is an idea’ or ‘Nothing is original anymore’ or ‘Symmetry is bad’ … It’s for that reason that I’m always wary when students email me or ask for advice. If they ask a specific question I’ll reply but I don’t like giving advice. You spend 10 years doing something and people expect that you know what you’re talking about and that can often not be the case! What worked for me might not work for anyone else, it’s really important that everyone finds their own way through their career.
What is the thing you want the average person (non designer) to takeaway from your book? If a non-designer wants to read the book I’d have to question their motives, but I think what I want everyone to take away is the importance of forming your own opinion about your work and your working practices. There are thousands of so-called authorities out there telling us about this year’s look, the latest trend, how things should or shouldn’t be done etc, that I think people have become used to being spoon fed opinions which they simply regurgitate as their own. There’s also an undercurrent of subjectivity throughout the whole book and, while there may be many perceived ‘lies’ about Graphic Design, there is rarely a singular truth either.
What is your favorite “word” you have ever designed? Not really a word, but I like this USA piece from 2010 because it’s creepy and was something I had no control over – it was completely a product of the process. It’s an image taken through a microscope of some cell cultures growing on the surface of a plastic relief made from a ‘Made in the USA’ stamp on an aluminum pen. The cells are Chinese Hamster ovary cells and I love the irony of something Chinese actually ‘making’ the USA… I like this kind of work in my portfolio because I feel like I can enjoy it more. It was something I conceived of and set up but, in the end, it exists because it wanted to exist, I was an observer in this instance.
What is your favorite font? Impossible question! Changes daily. Hourly even. I like to appreciate each font as I use it. I am drawn to high contrast fonts – those with very different stroke widths like Didot etc but that’s not appropriate for everything.
What is your favorite word? To say? Or to look at? I really like swearing – but there’s a reason of course, and that’s because swear words are satisfying to say. They’re chunky and round and meaty… and they sound great with a British accent! ‘Bollocks’ is an excellent word but ‘mollusc’ has a similar shape to it so that’s also good… I like reading longer words with a rhythm and repetition to them. Words like ‘verisimilitude’ or ‘Mississippi’. I can’t even explain why. I worked with a guy once whose favourite word was ‘pamphlet’.
What client project challenged you most? I think, the project that challenged me most was the music video I shot recently for Ryan Teague. It was completely out of my comfort zone and was conducted on a shoe-string budget. In addition, I was acting as Director and Producer basically and I had to rely on other people’s knowledge as it was a completely alien subject to me. I like to be involved with every stage of every project – it’s important for me so I can retain a sense of ownership – but, when you’re working with 2,000 volts of electricity in sub zero temperatures it’s usually best to step aside…
At what age/point in your career did you realize you were good at what you do? What a loaded question! I never really think about being good at what I do – in fact I had an argument with an Italian girl in a bar last week about this. It’s just something that I really enjoy doing – I used to just play with type in my spare time to relax and forget about work – and I think it’s that enjoyment and maybe the relaxed way in which I approach my projects that comes through in the work. I rarely know how a project is going to turn out and that excites me and, hopefully, the people I work with so I think that gives the work an energy.
I’m such a politician. I completely swerved your question there. At age 27 I guess I created the You Blow Me Away series and that was the first time I’d stepped back and looked at my work and actually been really, really proud of it. So, maybe then I thought I was ‘good’.
What is your go-to graphic design book you use for inspiration? I’m trying to not look at what anyone else is doing for a while, I found myself spending too much time looking through other people’s work. I do love Saul Bass and when I’m floundering I like to look through his monograph, ‘A Life in Film and Design’.
What is a quote or lyric or message you want to leave off with? “You gotta love what you do, chief.” – Lou the Police Officer from The Simpsons -
and “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Vladimir Lenin –
And now for a preview from the book …
Visit the official website of Mr Craig Ward to see more of his work. And of course we highly recommend jumping on the pre-order for his book “Popular Lies About Graphic Design” (releasing December 1st).
Also be sure you watch the extraordinary music video that we featured earlier this year that Craig directed.