CP: What does this project mean to you personally but also culturally?
SB: Not many of my projects have a personal effect on me. I don’t get the satisfaction that many designers speak of in seeing my work on a billboard or in the app store. By the time it’s reached the public I have moved on, or am afraid that I’d see a mistake if I paid too much attention. The only project that has really had a personal affect on me is working with Bangarra about 5 years ago. It was scary to communicate on behalf of an indigenous company with a visual language I felt I didn’t understand well enough, or that I didn’t have a right to use. But the experience really clarified my understanding of the role of a graphic designer, that primarily you are a conduit for ideas, not an owner.
As far as culturally, on first reflection my culture is very plain, and the work I have done is pretty mainstream. There is still a back and forth there but I’d say its pretty typical. I’m white Australian, grew up in a safe suburb, did well enough at an average school, fairly typical tourist and consumer of—I’d guess—60% popular culture, 40% high culture. In this kind of bubble you can lose the confidence to take risks and this can easily translate to design. I am guilty of it, but i’m also aware of it whereas a lot of people aren’t and i think it leads to the vast mediocrity in design today.
It can also make you less confrontational because you can get away with never really having to stand up for yourself. I myself don’t make strong personal judgements and if i do i feel quite embarrassed about it, but something I’ve learned to like about myself is an ability to see both sides of an argument. I like it as a thought experiment to mentally argue the opposite of what you believe. This comes in handy in design to empathise better in research contexts and receive critique more thoughtfully.
Question taken from Cadear Pasori interview with Telfar Clemens and Babak Radboy on The Fader.