The Democratic Lecture

Rather than turning up to a college and delivering a given talk, graphic designer and visiting college lecturer Craig Oldham has created an initiative which allows students to vote for the topics they’d most like to hear him discuss…

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In an increasingly interactive world, graphic designer and visiting college lecturer Craig Oldham has looked to shake up the concept of the lecture. Rather than turning up to a college and delivering a given talk, he’s created an initiative which allows students to vote for the topics they’d most like to hear him discuss…

Entitled The Democratic Lecture, Oldham’s initiative is based around a website through which students he is soon going to lecture can vote for their favourite five topics out of a list of a possible 40 – ranging from the benefits of taking a gap year, to the joys of collaboration, the importance of tea, and even one possible topic choice called Blood on the Macs: Design Through the Lyrics of Bob Dylan.

The idea is very simple: the top five voted-for topics get covered in Oldham’s lecture, meaning that the audience get a bespoke lecture based on their needs, worries, concerns and interests.

“In lecturing at Universities around the country, I’ve always held a bit of a principle that I didn’t really think students would get all that much from a lecturer just talking through slide-after-slide of a portfolio of work,” says Oldham of the project. “Surely there was a bit more insight I could offer into the industry that they’re all busting their chops to get into,” he continues. And, a few lectures later, I came up with The Democratic Lecture.”

Oldham’s well-catered for students can also purchase a book (£12.99) that collates info pertaining to all 40 Democratic Lecture topics – just in case their most-wanted topic isn’t covered in the lecture they attend. Here’s a look:

Remember, you can’t look at the different topics and vote unless you enter a code based on Oldham’s next planned lecture. However, you can still explore some of the site, book Oldham in to give a letcture, and buy the book at

CR In print

In our December issue we look at why carpets are the latest medium of choice for designers and illustrators. Plus, Does it matter if design projects are presented using fake images created using LiveSurface and the like? Mark Sinclair looks in to the issue of mocking-up. We have an extract from Craig Ward’s upcoming book Popular Lies About Graphic Design and ask why advertising has been so poor at preserving its past. Illustrators’ agents share their tips for getting seen and we interview maverick director Tony Kaye by means of his unique way with email. In Crit, Guardian economics leader writer Aditya Chakrabortty review’s Kalle Lasn’s Meme Wars and Gordon Comstock pities brands’ long-suffering social media managers. In a new column on art direction, Paul Belford deconstructs a Levi’s ad that was so wrong it was very right, plus, in his brand identity column, Michael Evamy looks at the work of Barcelona-based Mario Eskenazi. And Daniel Benneworth-Gray tackles every freelancer’s dilemma – getting work.

Our Monograph this month, for subscribers only, features the EnsaïmadART project in which Astrid Stavro and Pablo Martin invited designers from around the world to create stickers to go on the packaging of special edition packaging for Majorca’s distinctive pastry, the ensaïmada, with all profits going to a charity on the island (full story here)

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  • Luke Tonge

    Another stroke of genius. Nice one Craig!

  • Maisie

    We had this lecture down at Falmouth University, it was brilliant!

  • K-S-T

    He’s a great writer and I’m sure he will continue to do so!

  • Ben Hannam

    Great idea. I just ordered his book.