Interview with OK Parking on Drift November 29, 2010

After completing university Joost van der Steen and William van Giessen formed OK Parking in 2005, a graphic design company based in Arnhem, Holland. Now a design studio taking on large commercial projects the duo have maged to chanel much of their unbrideled creative energy into creative side projects including the OK Blog, OK Periodicals and the OK Festival. Recently releasing their fifth issue, the OK Periodical is a biannual magazine comprised of content submitted by designers from around the world in response to a theme. Having no editorial agenda means the magazine is a playful showcase of work. Involvement in magazine production has lead to the creation of the OK Festival, a three day independent magazine love-in in Arnhem. First held in may 2010, the next is scheduled for some time in 2012. We interviewed the duo about drift and the nature of creating design.

Does accident play any part in your creative process? Do you ever arrive somewhere without meaning to, and how do you use it when this happens? Is it more original?

When we (William and Joost) studied at the art academy we started experimenting with making mistakes on purpose. We started making glitch images, movies and installations. We deconstructed digital cameras, webcams, computer screens etc. It’s fascinating to see what happens when things don’t work the way they should. And you should open your eyes for this. Mistakes/accidents aren’t always bad because they can help you in your process and they can help you in making things you had never expected. The best thing is when you are able to take control of the accidents…not completely of course but a little is good. So you can steer the accident. After graduating we went on experimenting with these glitch projects. This way we ended up in the Glitch Book “Glitch: Designing Imperfection” by Imon Moradi and Ant Scott. These days we are less active in searching for the mistakes but we are sure happy when we find one and will always try to use them. I don’t know if it’s more original but it sure is more surprising and fun!

Was there ever an element of drifting into the career that you now have? Or did you set out expressly to be here, and everything is how you planned it to be?

No, we drifted in to this. When starting our company it was an impulse without any idea of what we wanted and where we were going. We wanted to work together and to make nice things, earn a little money and have fun. And this is what we started with an then once in a while a projects or ideas pop up in our minds and 9 of 10 times we will start with this project blind folded not thinking about money, time or if it is going to fail. These sometimes crazy projects form us as a company make us the way we are right now but will also change us in the upcoming years.

After you have made a piece, does it ever take on another life beyond its original purpose? Have you ever had work adopted or used for something else, and if so, by whom?

We are graphic designers so not really. Well not that I know of. Of course all the paper designs we produce will sometimes be used as wrapping paper, or shopping list.

How does time play a role in the way you work, particularly when focusing the way that you have to achieve something by a deadline, or letting work drift towards a conclusion?

Time always plays a role, even with our self initiated projects we have deadlines when it should go to the printer or when it has to be finished. But it’s nice if the deadline isn’t too short. This way you have the time to think about and take a second look at what you made and most of the time this makes the design better. Just put it away for a few days and take a look at it afterwards.

In terms of finding things that you use for inspiration, as a basis for work, how deliberate are you in research, or is there a tendency to drift through sources - the endless depths of the internet allow this?

I love to drift over the internet with Twitter and Facebook on my side. Just clicking links and seeing where it takes me. This often happens when working on the O.K. Periodicals magazine. Searching the internet within one theme brings you beautiful and curious things. But next to the internet inspiration is everywhere when I’m out of inspiration or energy I always go and have a walk to see things and people and clear up my mind. And then of course there are magazines, books and cycling (that’s what we Dutchies do) through the city. All these can bring inspiration and most of the time it’s easier to find it when you’re not looking for it.

With O.K. Periodicals you set a topic and then let people send in work they think fits. How does the theme move when the work begins to come in?

It’s funny that we always have ideas of what we want people to send in but they almost never do. The last theme is about the Body we hoped that people would have a free mind in this and that not everybody would send us pictures of human bodies……but they did. Now we have a big collection of human bodies in the magazine and it looks great. So after all we are very happy with it. It’s always a surprise what people will send us and that’s good and keeps it fun to do.


Autumn Book Reviews November 11, 2010

Here is a selection of this issue’s book reviews.

Faile: Prints and Originals 1999-2009

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Mercy on Drift November 10, 2010

In our first interview about the last issue’s theme Drift, we talk to creative agency Mercy. Split between London and Liverpool, Mercy have their fingers in many pies, from writing to do design, to events. They have worked with a whole host of companies and organizations including record labels, fashion houses and galleries. In addition to this they have found time to work on several of their own projects, including a fantastic zine.

Does accident play any part in your creative process? Do you ever arrive somewhere without meaning to, and how do you use it when this happens? Is it more original?

Yes. Absolutely. Mercy learns from its mistakes all the time - especially in the beginnings of creative process. We have special exercises, a bit like the Surrealists’ Automatic Writing and drawing, where we do things superfast just to see what amazing kinds of accidents happen. You could almost say that accidents are more honest than clinically produced things. With writing, design, and performance final products though, I’d say it was Mercy’s style to hone and polish the material from emerges from these accidents before we let the outside world see it.

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Issue 0 Online October 12, 2010

At long last, Issue 0 is up on the web reader

Open publication - Free publishing - More urbanism


Register of Trademarks of the Cutlers’ Company, Sheffield. 1953 Edition September 16, 2010

Found this gathering dust in the back of a local charity shop. Branding for chisels and churns, anchors and axes indexed in fifty easy-to-read categories. Fifty. A timely reminder that once upon a (not-too-distant) time, if you could use it, Sheffield made it.
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What does your design say about you? A look at Lit Fest Design September 8, 2010

Strolling back from a leisured lunch through the cafe at the entrance to my office building I found two very different brochures for two very similar looking events; The Sheffield Festival of Writing and Reading, and The Manchester Literature Festival. The two are stark in their contrasting designs, one is a standard civic festival brochure, informative and clear full of photos of authors and people reading. The second reads, feels and looks like a well produced and stylish zine, worth keeping despite its simple purpose a two week festival brochure.

The Off the Shelf Brochure isn’t bad. It’s clear and concise, full of content. Its just not that interesting. We know what books look like, we know what people reading books look like and we know that most authors aren’t models. It’s quite a businesslike mode of presentation that never really creates a distinct mood out of all the information. Perhaps this is partly to do with the fact that it’s part of a larger Sheffield Festival brand, with its own font ‘n’ photo format across a wide range of events.

What MLF have done with their designer at MARK Studio, however, is to create a brochure that feels and looks like its own unique and intriguing object. The minimalist design and newsprint paper really bring forward, this is a festival about words. It is organized like a zine of collected photos and poems make it an appropriate document for such a festival.

Off the Shelf takes place between the 9th and 30th of October in Sheffield.

Manchester Literature Festival takes place between the 14th and 25th of October in Manchester.


Stabby Women - Kid Acne Interview September 6, 2010

Graffiti artist Kid Acne has just come out with zine documenting his Stabby Women paste ups. Over the past couple years the playful urban warriors have been stuck to doors, walls and trucks on three continents. The zine itself is beautiful, printed in blood red ink on two colours of paper. (Incidentally it is the printer we used to use back in the day. Heart you Juma!) The cover is screenprinted in fluorescent pink, and the whole thing comes with a sweet set of postcards. We interviewed Ken Acid about the project.

So, Stabby Women, what’s their deal? Are they some kind of Freudian outpouring?

Well, it’s not a project about Penis Envy if that’s what you mean. I started painting strong warrior women as a reaction against the kind of characters Writers used to paint in the graffiti fraternity. I was never really into macho graf and I wanted to present an alternative rather than add to the mediocrity, but where it comes from, I have no idea. Possibly my interest in the African imagery I grew up with, and possibly one for the child phycologist to work out. Hopefully it’s not some kind of Oedipus Complex!

How long have you been putting them up? Whats the oddest place they have gone?

Early version date back to 2004, but this series started in 2008 in São Paulo. During my stay, I placed two characters in the street and when I went back to take a photo - a guy had sat down in between them, happily reading his paper with the girls guarding him either side. Apart from people drawing the occasional comedy glasses and mustaches on them, that little interaction made me smile the most.

You’ve made zines before. Was it always the intention to make this zine?

I began making fanzines in 1991 and continued to do so until about ‘96. I never intended this campaign to become a fanzine, but after freeing an army of over 500 paper crusaders into various foreign cities, it seemed a nice, more personal way to document that. It’s amazing how popular they are and how many people have posted photos on Flickr, but it’s also nice to have something tactile to hold in the real world too.

Now that they have come together in a zine, is this the end of the Stabby Women Project? Or can we expect to see them keep cropping up around the world?

I have no idea. There may be another phase, but for now I’m happy to have documented this as a body of work and made a DIY fanzine again. I love blogs, but again, it’s nice to have something to hold and to keep. I never really warmed to the overly calculated Street Art campaigns. They’re too transparent. I think it’s better when things are left to chance. It’s far more interesting and more genuine that way. That said, documentation is becoming as important as the work itself these days. Due to their ephemeral nature, the Stabby Women will only ‘exist’ in their documentation before long.


The Designers Republic on Copying August 24, 2010

The Designers Republic are one of the world’s most influential graphic design studios. TDR was founded by Ian Anderson in 1986, with early clients such as Warp Records, for whom they designed a distinctive logo and numerous covers. Over the following twenty odd years they have produced work for clients including Playstation, Grand Theft Auto, Coca Cola, Gate Crasher, and many others.

Their graphic style is informed by a strongly subversive tendency in which corporate logos, legibility and the authority of design itself is undermined. Many works have employed an intense, maximalist style, where logos are layered and crushed together, adopting other images in the process. We spoke to Ian about copying for Issue 0.

In this issue, we think of copying as something that’s not a symptom of a lack of originality, but a way of using the work of other people in a genuine way, dealing with a whole world of distant influences that are out there. Being subversive and being totally original aren’t always appropriate - how useful is imitation to you in finding a solution, as your work has to have a certain degree of effectiveness if it’s selling something?

There is a sliding scale connecting the notions of inspiration, emulation, pastiche and copying, and generally it’s a question of perception and semantics which dictate where individuals draw the line as to what’s acceptable, both creatively – in terms of the validity of the designer’s auteur-ship and ownership of the IP, and contextually – in terms of the value of the work as a unique and valid solution to the (client’s) brief.

For me there’s a significant difference in using something ‘known’, deliberately and transparently, because it is the best way to communicate the message or solution most effectively – where the source being ‘known’ is key, versus using another person’s creatively to fill the vacuum of an individual’s inability to think for themselves, be it conceptually, creatively, or visually.

For me, ‘design’ presupposes an idea - if the use of existing work or ideas is integral to the communication or expression of that idea then the ‘copying’ is essentially surface detail to the big picture. It depends whether the issue is with the reproduction of the idea or the expression of it.

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Play Rock Guitar August 17, 2010