“In terms of the individual educator having a particular taste, I think it’s something we’re all conscious of and we try to avoid, but nevertheless all of us have tastes,” says designer, writer and lecturer Steve Rigley, who is acting undergraduate programme leader for the communication design course at the Glasgow School of Art.
Everybody carries around individual opinions and tastes, including the people who nurture the next generation of creatives in universities and colleges the world over. For Rigley, however, these should come into play as little as possible. “I think fundamentally we do, certainly at Glasgow, try to avoid imposing any particular aesthetic preference. I think the key thing for us is the idea,” Rigley continues. “It’s not to do with whether I think this looks great. That’s not so much a value judgement as, what is appropriate for this particular idea?”
“My taste doesn’t really have anything to do with it, ideally,” agrees curator and educator Adam Murray, pathway leader for BA fashion communication and promotion and MA fashion image at Central Saint Martins in London. “If you were basing it all on my personal taste, then everything would be the same and you’d be aiming to recruit the same students who are all making the same type of work, which is obviously not what we’re looking for.”
Of course, many creative workplaces are sought after specifically for the leader at the helm, who might be known for a particular craft, style or body of work. Does this mentality carry through to creative education? Is there any truth to the idea that students are looking to absorb how their lecturers, or even a wider institution, see the world?