An Evening With Peter Saville

“I should not have studied graphic design, I shouldn’t even be a graphic designer but I learned the language. Then I spent the next ten years learning how to lie.”
Just before Christmas, Peter Saville gave a talk at the Architectural Association in London.
Here are a few highlights:

“I should not have studied graphic design, I shouldn’t even be a graphic designer but I learned the language. Then I spent the next ten years learning how to lie.”

Just before Christmas, Peter Saville gave a talk at the Architectural Association in London.
Here are a few highlights:

On New Order
“The most enthusiastic reaction I got to any of the covers was “they don’t much mind it”. The worse was for Lowlife: when they saw it, they all said, in unison, ‘You fucking bastard’. Regret they liked because it was colourful and shiny. Bernard said ‘We might fucking sell something with this one Peter. How long has it taken?’ But they never asked me about any of them, they weren’t interested.”

Lowlife
Regret

On being a graphic designer
“I became a mercenary, a hired killer. I tried to work for clients who I didn’t think were too bad. You have to work, to earn money and you just have to find a way to cope with that.”

On growing up in the 70s
“The UK in the 70s for the average young person was a cultural wasteland. Knowledge and awareness was incredibly limited. I spent four years at art college and no-one even mentioned the Bauhaus. I looked at mid-70s Britain and thought ‘this is awful. Why don’t we have any Modernism? Why is it all so impoverished?’”

On Factory
“I thought the name was so naff – so Warhol. I was more interested in the 1860s than the 1960s.”

Factory Poster

On Manchester’s industrial heritage
“I was a spoiled middle class boy who grew up in the stockbroker belt outside Manchester. I was able to be romantic about industry because I lived half an hour away in Hale. All the working class kids thought it was awful, I thought it was sexy.”

On branding cities
“There is a great deal of nonsense talked about regional and urban branding – as if just having a logo is going to have any effect on a city. If you’ve got to have a logo it’s because no-one wants to go there. The whole principle is misconstrued. Design consultancies have identified local councils as victims – there are inexperienced people there who are being persuaded to buy pointless work.”

Manchester logo

On record covers
“I’d been doing them since I was 23 and you just grow out of it. The playground is not an appropriate place for a grown-up.”

On Pentagram
“It was quintessentially important to me as an introduction to the profession. I had never worked for anyone before so I had never had the opportunity to learn from them. Suddenly I had a dozen wise men as mentors, including some of the best ever. I even learned from David Hillman, and he hates me.”

What's the story?

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