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Anti-Design Festival call for entries

Graphic Design

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 13 July 2010, 10:47    Permalink    Comments (14)

Positioning itself as an alternative to the London Design Festival, the Anti-Design Festival comes to east London on 18 September. Initiated by Neville Brody, it's aim is to promote work that challenges perceived stereotypes of contemporary design. And the organisers want your contributions for an exhibition...

The festival's raison d'être is the support of work that is "uncommercial, dangerous and anti-establishment" and to form part of an exhibition the organisers are looking for submissions. Selected artwork will be displayed in a group show alongside pieces by designers and artists including Jonathan Barnbrook, Stuart Semple and Stefan Sagmeister.

The ADF are seeking out, they say, "creative work that pushes the boundaries of conventional art and design. This is the chance to show previous work that has failed with clients or instructors, or to produce completely new work without the imposition of market restrictions. Because this festival is completely non-profit in orientation, we cannot pay for contributions. However, this is an opportunity for your work to engage a wide audience in a context that will challenge and provoke the public to rethink the role of art and design in contemporary culture."

Submissions can take any form but the organisers stress that "the work should be cheaply made and reproducible so that visitors can take it and use it however they want. Most probably, you would send us PDFs of work that are up to A3 in size (black and white or colour) that we can reproduce for you, or digital files to be shown on computers."

The ADF has also suggested the following formats: objects/ephemera already produced; PDFs of graphics to be photocopied onto A4 Sheets; posters; images or motion graphics to be displayed out of monitors; sound to be played into headphones.

Those interested in contributing should email their intent to by Monday 19 July. The final due date for all submissions is Friday 13 August. More information at where you can also view the ADF manifesto.

Below, for your inspirational pleasure, is a list of creative prompts that the ADF has put together. "Feel free to use them as you'd wish," they say.

'I preferred a more mechanical method'

'The alternative English garden wall'

'Fasten the secret nails through the tongues'

'Peculiar personal sufferings and distresses'

'The scene I witnessed was a repetition'

'I don't think it's possible for me to get home now without a guide'

'They were dressed half for battle and half for tennis'

'Rules are good. Break them'

'Little tots being nasty to each other'

'Content, form devoid of function, and commerce'

'Abandoned the commune, hitchhiked back'

'You did not arrest me'

'Put away perversity from your mouth'

'The Earth will give birth to her dead'

'People say "Now, now, what's wrong?"'

'The leading maker of LSD'

'Like a seductive fairy tale'

'Incisions sutured under moderate tension'

The Anti-Design Festival will take place in and around Redchurch Street in Shoreditch, east London during 18-26 September.



We've just heard from the organisers that response to the initial call for submissions, above, was so overwhelming that two separate streams have now been set up to cope with the demand.The first stream is for small, reproducible multiples. Submissions can take any form you want, but the bulk of the work should be cheaply-made and reproducible so that visitors can take it and use it however they want. For more information, including creative prompts and a submission upload form, please go here. Please write to with any questions related to this first stream.

The second stream is for large, one-off pieces of various sizes that will be framed and hung closely alongside each other. The theme for this stream is State of Mind, Mind of State, which considers the reciprocal relationship between personal psychology and state control. For more information, including submission details, please go here. Please write to with questions related to this second stream.

Finally, the ADF will also feature a series of performance evenings -- spanning music, spoken word, experimental performance, movement and moving image. If you have a proposal for an evening performance please write directly to with your idea by Monday, 26 July 2010.


Come and join the Anarchists' Society
2010-07-13 13:27:15

Subvert, Resist, Deny and Revolt.
2010-07-13 22:11:04

They Live. We Sleep.
Gareth Bayliss
2010-07-15 15:46:43

It seems like every time there is a story on here about something Brody is up to the hatred and bitterness comes out. He can take it, I'm sure, but it's not very edifying.

If you want to make a reasoned criticism about this initiative, fine, but any comments that wander off the point into pointless personal digs at Brody will be deleted.
CR PatrickBurgoyne
2010-07-15 17:03:37

I like Neville Brody.
Nathan David Smith
2010-07-17 23:39:06

Why does Anti Design always have to equal bad design in so many peoples minds? Says more about anti design and a flawed premise we think.
East John
2010-07-19 16:17:33

I've no intrinsic issue with Brody or anything he does.

There are plenty of people who've been challenging "the role of art and design in contemporary culture" for a long time – Bruce Mau, Troika, Graphic Thought Facility, The Glue Society, Greyworld, hell even people like The Designers Republic and Tomato back in the day (to name the few I can think of). People who produce work on the fringes of contemporary practice (or simply serve to push it forward) do and always will exist; it doesn't make them "Anti-Design".

Hence my previous comment, "Come and join the Anarchists' Society". This is a group of established and successful designers coming together to say "We're all rebels, we are". The people who are actually moving things forward continue to do so regardless.

It just seems a bit of a waste of time, is all.
2010-07-19 18:00:17

there are a lot of problems with this. not good problems.
neville brody, RCA, stefan sagmeister, jon barnbrook et al ARE the establishment. it would be ridiculous to deny this.
i also believe the ADF is primarily a projection of their own misgivings about what they have done with their life, but being projected onto others. the mass assumption involved in this indicates a blinkered view. it is not my problem - don't judge me by your own standards - please don't project it onto me. it is your problem. a mid-life crisis moment you could say (the ages of the prime instigators pan out for this, tempered by a few younger ones throwing in their lot to see what success it can bring them, part of their brand positioning.)
the oxymoron of having a 'call for entries' selecting work that is all about anti-establishment and rejection? huh? so the rejected rejected then have to do what, set up the AADF? i guess having a free-for all was too dangerous an idea? they want to mediate the space, like any other brand does. so ADF please don't blame brands, or do choose to blame yourself at the same time.
at the end of the day though, i guess people will submit to this, hoping that there will be a chance that they can have in their portfolio a piece that means they can say "i did this for neville brody's anti design festival", believing that the association will help bring in a commission. just one of the outcomes that shoots ADFs own foot, if it's words are too be believed. in my opinion, deeper and more radical thinking was needed on neville's part for the sensibilites he articulates to be delivered in a believable sense. the solution - a festival - is a format that has over the years become an incredibly predictable, homogenous and conformist one to choose. wouldn't you say?
M for ...
2010-07-20 16:32:54

It's good to see Brody generating an alternative initiative and viewpoint. If at the very least it makes us think for a second and raises an ironic smile, then I'm all for it.
kevin blackburn
2010-07-21 07:12:07

i agree it's an alternative; just like a mars is an alternative to a twix.
there is nothing intrinsically radical in the word alternative and what it is applied to, after all.
an ironic smile indicates a perception of it's failings. i'd prefer to get excited about something for positive reasons. i think the bar should be raised.
M for ...
2010-07-21 18:11:57

I'm going to have to open by making it clear that I have a lot of respect for Neville Brody; any designer in fact who's made a name for themselves through their work.

I considered entering, read the fatuous 'minifesto' and concluded it amounted to little more than a graphic designer's middle age crisis. And I agree, it's organised by people who have sat squarely in the middle of the establishment whingeing about how 'the design establishment' is bunch of old crap. Thanks guys. Some of you used to stand for something. This Call for Entries... There's no brief - it just seemed to be 'send us something 'dangerous'', preferably in PDF format. Oh Really?

The documentation ultimately gave little incentive to designers - those people who engage with clients or ideas, solving problems within (whether we like it or not) a pretty straight contractual agreement between those who want something and those who can deliver it - you know, to actually submit anything. I'll bet this exhibition is co-opted by illustrators. That's fine - but it's not design, is it?

The message put across by this initiative is actually misguidedly nihilistic. It does nothing for "Design" - which, come on guys is a 'doing word', not a name. I don't take an interest in knocking people who get off their arses and do stuff, but what's the truth - was this rushed together, given a 'subversive' visual identity and then routinely PR'ed in just the way ADF seem to be railing against in their oblique statement? Though really, I can't tell what it is ADF stands for - because, you know, it's adopted such a fractured faux polemic style that it pulls off the unique ability to be saying pretty much nothing while looking like it's choc full of big ideas.

It bears a close resemblance to those councils who've inadvisedly welcomed grafitti artists into their arts outreach festivals to spray on their walls, and end up with a bunch of self-referential tags that look pretty much like any other neglected street, fooling themselves that they're being 'urban'.

And ultimately, being laughed at.
Sam Oakley
2010-07-22 12:59:06

"i also believe the ADF is primarily a projection of their own misgivings about what they have done with their life, but being projected onto others. the mass assumption involved in this indicates a blinkered view. it is not my problem - don't judge me by your own standards - please don't project it onto me. it is your problem. a mid-life crisis moment you could say (the ages of the prime instigators pan out for this, tempered by a few younger ones throwing in their lot to see what success it can bring them, part of their brand positioning.)"

spot on.
2010-08-29 03:51:47

Neville Brody said this in the book How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer,

"There is nothing really different. There’s nothing really dangerous, there’s nothing really difficult out there right now. And I think we need some things to start galvanizing people. I think we need things that allow people to think in non-commercial ways."

"No one’s prepared to engage with difficult ideas anymore. It is very rare that graphic design is a difficult, engaging space these days."

This was back in 2007, it seems he's taken it upon himself to start "galvanizing people"..
2010-08-29 04:06:55

Say what you want about the design 'manefesto' (its a complete load of s*** by the way), Ths is one of the first websites that I have seen for a long time that actually makes me angry.

This website is a disgrace to web development.

Anti design does not mean that you should create a website that is extrememly iritating and downright difficult to read for many people. I chellenge anyone to actually read some oif this and not get annoyed

So ‘controversial’! Well done Neville!

It always makes me laugh when graphic designers start spouting off this stuff. Like Neville Brody hasnt made money out of corporate design.
2010-09-14 17:13:08

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