Since graduating from Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design Peter Maybury has continued to pursue his own vision of graphic design, away from the traditional commercial design sector. As a freelance designer he is responsible for the print output of the Douglas Hyde Gallery, and the annual French Film Festival among others. Recently he has also been involved in the 'Outdoor Images' events in Temple Bar, Dublin.
In October you were involved in the 'Outdoor Images' event in Temple Bar, could you explain the event? and your project 'On The Surface'?
Outdoor Images is an outdoor projection series organised by Aileen Corkery for Temple Bar properties. pProjects are presented on the outdoor screen in Meeting House Square. 'On The Surface' which I made with Marie Pierre Richard, comprised of a b/w slide projection exhibition and a book of images and observation on the surface. the two formats worked in parallel. The work contained elements of text, with photographs and found fragments / images.
Do you regard the work as art or design?
The work uses graphic language to present ideas and images, but I try just to produce things without thinking about a category.
Does the art world inspire your design work?
I'm often inspired by artworks and artists, but also music, cinema, buildings, books, design, spaces, signage, the city, the countryside.
Design groups such as Tomato or Fuel have managed to balance their own personal more artistic or musical projects with their design output. Is this attitude one you admire?
It's always been natural for me to work on personal projects at the same time as working with clients. Working in a variety of related disciplines keeps you motivated, brings new ideas, ways of looking at things. For me, producing work is mostly about 'process' ( a word synonymous with Tomato ). The most fascinating part is forming ideas, layers, putting it together. The finished product, although important, isn't necessarily the most interesting part of the experience. In this way one project feeds into the next. For example the parallels between making music and making images. There is a remarkably precise correlation between sound and image and working with the two. My recording project 'hard sleeper.', provides an ideal opportunity to work with some of these relationships. 'hard sleeper.', which has just been release by 'emigre', is a 13 track CD and 72 page book. Although the book is based on travels in china, the atmosphere is informed by the music.
Are you glad you made the choice to be a freelance designer rather than work your way up through an existing design agency? Are there any disadvantages to being a freelance designer?
Being freelance has given me the opportunity to work on personal projects, as well as choosing the work I do with clients. I try to stick to work that interests me. Inevitably working for yourself means you're responsible for everything, but ultimately I think that it's a positive aspect.
Ireland has often been criticised for its lack of a design culture, do you think this is changing? Do you think in the next few years we could see a growth in more adventurous design forms in Ireland?
No. I don't believe the Irish economy is very conducive to adventurous ideas.
Is Irish graphic design inherently conservative do you think? Or are Irish clients just too restrictive?
I get the impression that many designers, like their clients, are interested in making money. Designers who are trying to push the envelope of design are in the minority.
You were involved in designing CODE magazine some years age. Are there any plans to bring back the magazine?
CODE produced a limited edition fold-out magazine 'enhance 57:19', but is otherwise lying dormant ! i'm always interest in designing magazines, but not for the moment.
For many designers the internet seems to be providing more and more of an outlet for their personal projects. Is this something you are interested in exploring?
The internet is a fantastic tool for communication and facility for making work accessible. The Softsleeper website functions as a place to archive work, and also as a way to distribute project work. You can also purchase copies of music and design projects from the site. Having the sense of building something around this core outlet helps to generate motivation towards other projects. As long as your not in a rush, I think 'self-published' sites like this will gain momentum.
Do you continue to teach in the Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design?
I am currently visiting lecturer on the MSc in Trinity College, although I do occasional lectures at DIT and DLIADT.
Do you think students are being put under greater pressure to keep up with all the technical demands many design firms require of them, from interactive design, to video or print design?
On the MSc in Trinity College, which is essentially technology based, one the biggest issues that seems to face the people on the course is a balance between content and technology. It's very easy to become consumed by the means of communication, overlooking what it is you want to say in the first place. In Dun Laoghaire, I found that some students naturally gravitated towards screen-based work, while others tended to prefer traditional media. I never sensed a pressure, more a natural selection. Besides, although the growth area at the moment is in digital media, I think designers with an understanding of print media will remain fundamental to a design practice. For me an essential ability is to integrate design across wide ranging platforms - print, screen, signage etc. - and the underlying discipline of design remains the same in all of this.
LP music design has previously always provided an oulet for great design, do you think the CD jewel case has had a detrimental effect on design in music? Or is it another challenge?
The 12" is a great format to design for, but i think that there are many interesting CD cover designs. CD format suggests different possibilities, but the essential relationship between sound and image is still a fascinating one.
Who are your favorite visual/graphic designers out their now?
Irma Boom (designs catalogues for Vitra consistently designs beautiful
catalogues for De Appel Gallery)
Do you have any plans for future art/design projects?
I hope to produce an increasing number of self-published projects, plus I have a forthcoming second 'Hard Sleeper' album - 'Seas Rotate' released by Dublin based Folkrum Records. Ongoing identity items for 'softsleeper', catalogues etc, and Miscellaneous video projects with Marie Pierre.
Visit Peter Maybury's website: softsleeper.com