Malcolm Garrett RDI and Arrow Vale RSA Academy

A talented group of Year 12 A-Level Media students at Arrow Vale were taken on an inspiring and creative journey “from record sleeves to real world design” by the 2014-15 RDI Master, Malcolm Garrett.

Widely regarded as a significant influence on the development of graphic and digital design in the UK, Malcolm is best known for his innovative work in the music industry from the late 1970s onwards, and pioneering role in championing interaction and digital communications in the early 1990s. Responsible for designing album covers for bands including Buzzcocks, Human League, Duran Duran, and Simple Minds, Malcolm explored new ways of working with computers and established one of the first digital design agencies in London.

Malcolm’s skills and experience were well matched to the students’ set project. As part of their coursework, they had to produce a music video storyboard for an imagined artist or band; a CD cover and insert; and an evaluation of their work based on their research and understanding of the particular music genre they were focusing on.

On arrival at the school Malcolm gave an engaging presentation with numerous images and stories of his formative years at school and college where he began his design career through a passion for music and an obsession with the images, tools and technology of ‘the future”. He also had lots of advice during the Q&A session including, “get involved with something that you are passionate about; read everything; listen to everything; there’s no substitute for knowing everything!” and commented on his success: “it takes a lot of hard work to be lucky.”

Following this, small groups of students showed their draft CD designs to Malcolm who gave each one a personal crit, asking questions about their concept and approach. There was a fascinating variety of responses to the project with students coming up with imaginative names for artists and using a striking mix of typography, photography and illustration.

Malcolm will be writing some guidance notes for the group and offered to review the next design phase with an opportunity for a further crit in the lead up to the final presentation of work.

Course tutor, Michaela Yeomans said afterwards, “We all found the day incredibly interesting and insightful and I know it will have a huge impact on their final coursework pieces.”

Related project: Royal Designers for Industry (RDI)