The Designer as Agitator -  Robert Urquhart

Let's leave agreement to others. After all, the agitator is the cerebral aggressor, the first in, last out, perpetrator of change, the constant adulterer to imposed system.

The state of agitation is the heartbeat of creativity.

Agitation is easily identifiable, an animal instinct that prevents us from inertia and arguably from extinction. The fist of anger and of solidarity, hands outreached in passion and in satire.

Design agitation is neither a service nor a discipline. Agitation is the pin prick of empathy.

Design agitation is a sense of self purpose. The opposite of sterile, infertile and barren, agitation is opulent, effervescent, brimming with ardour.

Design agitators are the glorifiers and creators of symbols of movement and of change. They boil down the prime cuts from our daily diet of news from other, less transparent, agitators. They hold up the mirror, it is they who ask the questions.

Let's look to the great cartoon political satirists, fearless in their subject matter and as politically clear sighted in their approach as the graphic visualisation that they produce.  Where better than the futile, timeless struggle in the Middle East and, closer to home, self-centred politics, to reveal the pomposity and folly of human nature.

They are the ones who mock our pomposity and posturing in social and digital media. Agitation is sometimes uneasy, caught with our pants down, we are reminded that we are all capable of being the subject of satire, and we are all the better for that realisation.

The design agitator hones in on the absurd, lingering on life in mid -  air, life as happenstance. Their work stirs up a deeply oscillating visual massage parlour, stimulating the human condition. Of course you don't need me to tell you this, but there are times when agitation becomes a refrain, a mantra, an underlying melody.

This underlying melody can, at times be seductive to commercial interests. At times you can hear a cover version of design agitation humming in the background like elevator music, the tune is familiar but the expression is vulgar. Design agitation can be bastardised.

Design is not just a service, just as it is not always provocative or divisive.

However, design agitators do have the ability to apply their craft in a social context, they provide visual folk music for the soul. 'Soul' is not a very fashionable word when it comes to design but that's what I believe in when I talk about agitators. They have soul, a timeless energy that may as well be called many things including 'talent', 'expression' and 'artistry'. Whatever it is, it is also agitation.

Festivals such as GDFB offer the chance for design to grow in soulful self awareness, posters, billboards and declarations of a lust for life. Long may our journey be peppered with these brilliant outbursts.

Let's find agreement in others. After all, we want the agitator to be the cerebral pacifier, the diplomat , the leveller of change, the one and only guardian of an imposed system.

The state of creativity is the heartbeat of agitation.

The Graphic Design Festival took place in September 2012 in Breda, The Netherlands.

My contribution, a lecture and three prints in the exhibition Small Stories Bigger Picture in MOTI - Museum Of The Image (until December 16) was presented in the theme The Designer as Agitator.

For the publication Search Find Like Share, Perspectives in visual storytelling  Robert Urquhart wrote the introduction below.

Spread in Search Find Like Share, Perspectives in visual storytelling

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