We made our way over to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith last night for what has to be the most shambolic talk we've ever been to. (And we've been to a typography talk by Erik Spiekermann where none of the fonts on his PDF presentation loaded up. Actually... that was worse. But it's a close run thing.)
The talk, by David Carson, was supposed to be about his new book, but he hasn't quite finished it, so instead the talk was a pretty standard retrospective of his work.
Carson came across pretty much as you'd expect: laid-back and amiable. But he also came across as if he'd never presented before, which just isn't the case, and felt a tad disingenuous. He operated his Mac as if it were an alien device - he was unsure of any key commands, or how to create a spread PDF rather than single pages, and acted as if using the slideshow function was some magical mystery. He's been working on computers for a fair while now - can he really be so unfamiliar with them? Or is it just part of the Carson persona?
Either way, he assured us that he wasn't really a computer kind of guy, and that the meat of his presentation would be on two carousels of slides.
Unfortunately, neither of those worked. They cluttered and stammered their way through his selection of slides, jamming, repeating, freezing, and in the end actually spitting his work out onto the floor. Everyone's a critic, eh?
It meant that things went slowly, with the talk clocking in at two and a half hours; for a fair percentage of the audience, this was just too much, and there was a steady flow of people out of the auditorium as the talk wound on and on.
The content of his talk was a few bits and bobs of new stuff, and a stack of the old stuff, as well as a smattering of found graphics and personal photographs. He showed his recent work for Bark (shown above), which was quieter than his old work, and perhaps better for it.
He also showed the various presentations (six so far, and counting) he's done for the upcoming identity for the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida. Get this: in each presentation he'd show the clients up to thirty different variations of a logo. Staggering.
All in all we didn't dislike the talk as much as some of the audience, and there were some bits we gleaned in amongst the chaos:
- Magazines are good as they give you room to experiment in public
- When you're using a freelancer, your job is to hire someone good, then get out of the way and let them get on with it
- Be open to accidents, but just because something is an accident, don't assume it's good
- Carson's dad was a test pilot, and it used to be a career with a 58% mortality rate
Anyway, as we mentioned up top, Carson is in the process of putting together his new book, The Rules of Grafik (sic) Design, and he'd like you to drop him an email. He'd like to know what your personal rules are for graphic design - not the ones you learned at college, but the ones you've created for yourself during your work as a designer.
Um, perhaps we might suggest: Make sure your presentation equipment works?