Monday, 6 October 2008

Creative Review

UHC has been mentioned for our work with Climate Camp in Jody Boenhart's article, In The Front Line in this months Creative Review (October 08):

Design at the Climate Camp

Each year the camp has worked with the Manchester-based studio Ultimate Holding Company (UHC) to create an integrated campaign (website, posters, flyers, stickers, etc.). The leading image for the 2008 camp was a Swiss army knife, out of which all the tools of activism extended: here is a wrench, book, wind turbine, loud speaker, rubber boot, carrot, and flower. The camp also produced a newspaper, You Are Here, in an edition of 20,000. Subtle headlines, text and images draw you into the issues slowly. Climate change is not even mentioned or alluded to until several pages into the paper. John Jordan worked on the paper and is one of the key design activists at the camp. The intention, he claims, is “to make publicity materials which have the slickness of corporate media yet the punch of rebel flyers, the poetic writing of literature yet the political analysis of radical theory, the desirability of capitalist design, yet the subversiveness of anarchist thinking”.

The crisp design produced by the Climate Camp is removed from the typical anarchist/Marxist/revolutionary visual codes of earlier activists movements. The Climate Camp’s graphic identity aims to be attractive to everyday people; it is accessible and asks everyone to participate. Gone are the stencilled or dirty grunge fonts that are identified with your counter-cultures. In an era when our rebellion has been sold back to us for so long that the aesthetics of rebellion are virtually meaningless, the Climate Camp has avoided positioning itself with any of the counter-culture based identity politics of earlier activists movements that could never escape the anarchist ghetto. So far, the camp has stayed clear of old ideology-based rhetoric and imagery, but is a constant battle to maintain a fresh perspective and communications strategy.

How does the relationship between the designer and client differ from a commercial situation? Here the client is the networking group of the camp. UHC describes the dynamic: “We begin from their starting point, that is to say – the brief is ‘to save the world now’ and the target audience is ‘everyone’. It can be hard pleasing everyone, with such a vociferously non-hierarchical, decentralised, voluntary and deeply committed group. Every year we nearly have to start building relationships from scratch, because the client is a shifting group. After three years we now have a good relationship with one or two people who have remained constant and are design savvy.”