Thursday, 4:13pm
28 June 2012

The freedom of the print shop


screen prints by graphic artists from around <br>the world<br>Artomatic, London<br>15 May–12 July 2002

It’s easy to forget that what makes modern graphic design so appealing is that it has to make itself up as it goes along. Take, for example, Artomatic. Based in Clerkenwell, the design hotspot in East London, it is an archive, a shop, a print solution and a gallery. Its small gallery space showed work from the ‘ilikeprinting’ show. The designers had no brief and all the prints are in A2. What the designers did have was encouragement to use a variety of print materials and techniques. With work from designers as diverse as Graphic Thought Facility, Ryan McGinness, and Rebecca and Mike, the work pulled in different directions. But there was a commonality of purpose. From Mason Wells’ shimmering homage to Kraftwerk to Julian House’s urban-alien-collage, the designers have exploited the technical nous offered by Artomatic.

One review of the show mistakenly described Artomatic as designers, but what they are doing is making a space for graphic design: they describe themselves as being about ‘the language of contemporary printed objects’.

The great interest in such a show is that the culture created around graphic design is born from a trade, print and technical background, a culture indigenous to graphic design. It is about graphic design having the confidence to rely on its own resources rather than borrowing its clothes from the culture of art.