Here's what we've been saying, thinking and doing.
01 December 2010
Art Education IS valuable.
Sam Stone – Creative Director
I was reading in the newspaper the other day that one of the speakers at the Millbank Rally last week was Angela Maddock, an art lecturer from Swansea University. In her speech she rejected the idea that the arts should be subordinated to so called ‘useful’ subjects and instead argued for a defence of ‘art for arts sake’. This was in reaction to the worrying news that art departments in English universities are to be excessively hit by funding cuts.
Ironic then that on the next page of the same newspaper I discover an article about the sale of a distinctive Andy Warhol painting after it broke it’s estimated sale price and sold for 20.7 million pounds.
But this is not the point, what was even more ironic was that the painting in question was of an iconic bottle of Coke, one of the biggest brands in the world. In 2010 it was announced that Coca-Cola had become the first brand to top £1 billion in annual UK grocery sales. Coca Cola has 71,000 employees all around the world and provides jobs to nearly 5,000 people in Britain alone.
Artists and designers embrace our material and visual culture – that is, everything that surrounds us in everyday life. They create and influence the world we see around us and play a major role in the objects we use on a daily basis. I believe that Art and Design are inextricably linked.
I along with most other brand designers started my training at Art College. This is where I learnt to question the world around me, where I explored and examined all the wonderful chapters of visual history and studied and admired the design icons that changed the way we live, think and behave.
Coca-Cola is the one of the most recognized and iconic brands in the world. Even at the early stages of invention, the founding partner of the business, Frank M Robinson named the dark liquid ‘Coca Cola’ because he thought the two Cs would work well in advertising. The design for the famous glass Contour bottle was created in 1915. It was done to protect the brand from a growing army of imitators. The company wanted to communicate to consumers that there was only one authentic Coca-Cola. Designers were given the brief to create a bottle that a person could recognize as a Coca-Cola bottle, even if felt in the dark. It is this same iconic bottle that Andy Warhol imitated in his painting.
According to reports from the Design Council, it has been proven that in businesses where design is integral to operations, over three quarters say they’ve increased their competitiveness and turnover through design and that shares in design-led businesses have outperformed the FTSE 100 by more than 200% over the past decade.
Designers are not just thinkers, they are future makers who make things better. Better for business, better for life, better for people and better for the world. How worrying then that courses such as media, fine art and creative studies face falling to the bottom of the government’s funding priority list despite the UK having the largest creative industry in the world relative to GDP.
I would like to conclude that I believe that Art Education is far more than just a ‘useful’ subject. It is a valuable subject, both commercially and culturally. Many design icons such as Milton Glaser, Michael Peters, James Dyson, Alan Fletcher, Walter Gropius, all started their careers in art school, with the latter founding a design school and a movement that became one of the most influential moments in modern design.
Design has been recognised by the Government as a creator of national wealth and a generator for social change. But, we need the Government to acknowledge that most great designers start their career at art school.
A new campaign, I Value the Arts, started last week with 100 hundred artists including David Hockney, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin lending their weight and uniting to oppose cuts to arts funding and education. I urge all designers whose first steps into the design world were learnt through art school and who believe in the iconic power of design to voice their support for this campaign at www.ivaluethearts.org.uk