Progetto Grafico 29 International Graphic Design Magazine (IT) – Topic: Clients and Patrons

Deadline for submissions: 30 May 2015

Progetto grafico 29: Clients and Patrons

edited by Riccardo Falcinelli, Davide Fornari, Carlo Vinti

At a time of general economic difficulties, marked by constant disciplinary and professional readjustments in the field of visual communication, we have chose to devote this issue of Progetto grafico to the theme of clients and patrons.

Historically, in the field of graphic design, large industrial, commercial, or institutional clients have provided not only financial support to designers (in the form of commissions), but have also had an impact on design choices, and contributed to shaping the image that graphic designers have of themselves as professionals. Despite this, clients are often forgotten protagonists in the history of graphic design. Recent critical debate has more often focused on the changing role of graphic designers and their direct relationship with end users. The issue of clients and patrons has remained largely in the shadows, although clients continue to play key roles in the process of design and production of communicative artifacts.

A series of important changes since the 1980s has perhaps made it even more urgent to resume the discussion about clients’ roles. On the one hand, the need for independence felt by the youngest generation of
graphic designers has increasingly led them to question the traditional designer-client relationship, structured as consulting or professional services provided to a customer. On the other hand, entire business and institutional sectors have begun to turn to professionals outside the traditional world of graphic design, whose skills lie more in marketing and strategic communication. Meanwhile, the position of the graphic designer has been significantly rethought: designers have attempted to appropriate many other roles in recent years (author, editor, curator, producer), including that of entrepreneur. Various forms of DIY-production and the diffusion of self-initiated projects have led many to believe they could do without the clients, or at least to prefer other forms of collaboration with partners who share their same culture. Public support from universities and foundations (in the form of scholarships and residences) is a more recent phenomenon whose sustainability model offers food for debate.

Given this complex framework, we believe it is particularly useful to reconsider several basic questions: What does being a client or patron mean, and what is the relationship between contemporary graphic designers and clients, taking into account the different shapes this relationship can take.

We are also interested in reconsidering some of the original meanings associated with the Italian term comittenza: the noun derives from the Latin verb committere, which, in addition to the sense of “entrusting,” “ordering,” and “requesting,” initially also referred to the acts of “putting together,” “joining two or more things.” English distinguishes more clearly between the activities of patronage (the support given to somebody’s work) and the role of customer (who buys or pays for goods and services), but from an etymological viewpoint the two terms both imply the idea of giving support: hence supporting a human work or activity, and not just economically.

And so, for this issue of Progetto grafico, we look forward to receiving contributions (essays, research, other forms of reportage) that critically discuss the theme of clients and patrons, in light of the aforementioned questions and issues. We are interested in perspectives from different disciplines, as long as they have at least a tangential pertinence to the field of visual communication and its cultural implications.

The issues we would like to explore include:

– How industrial, commercial, and publishing entrepreneurs, as well as political and cultural institutions, have contributed (and continue to contribute) to the establishment of the graphic design profession.

– Who are professional designers’ clients nowadays, and how has the relationship between designers and their commercial, institutional, or cultural counterparts changed?

– Who acts as mediator between designers and clients, both today and in the past?

– How has the traditional designer-client relationship, first established in the 20th century, changed in the contemporary landscape?

– How is the client perceived in the professional community? Does it still make sense to talk about “educating clients”?

– What kind of professional relationships do graphic design schools now prepare their students for?

– Is there such as thing as graphic design without clients?

– What opportunities do companies and institutions now offer graphic designers to encourage them to take risks, innovate, experiment, or even do research?

scheduled release: spring 2016
submission deadline: 30 May 2015

Send proposals to:

Progetto grafico è la rivista internazionale di grafica edita dall’Aiap

Davide Fornari, Silvia Sfligiotti

editorial board
Emanuela Bonini Lessing, Serena Brovelli, Maria Rosaria Digregorio, Riccardo Falcinelli, Claude Marzotto, Jonathan Pierini, Carlo Vinti, Stefano Vittori

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