Winter 2000

Editorial Eye 38

Anniversaries – the landmarks, jubilees and significant milestones favoured by journalists and broadcasters – should not be taken too seriously. To mark the tenth ‘birthday’ of a organisation or magazine like Eye can seem as arbitrary as celebrating issue no. 38, which is what this one happens to be. The mis-match in dates and issue numbers (an eccentricity shared by other specialist journals) is a bit of a glitch, scar tissue acquired in the struggle to maintain regular publication for a cultural journal that has enjoyed the attentions of three owners, four printers, half a dozen publishers and countless ad managers over the eventful past decade.

Eye’s persistence in the face of adversity, attrition, misplaced enthusiasm and benign neglect is a source of wonder to many of its best friends and supporters – let alone its rivals and detractors. Though it has often seemed more like a labour of love than a growing, profitable business magazine, there is now some pride that Eye can be both.

An entirely self-congratulatory edition would be wrong – too obvious – so we elected to make this one a ‘Self expression, self-promotion’ special issue (codenamed ‘Showing off’) with a broad range of self-generated work that designers make within the complex interconnecting fields between impure commerce and compromised art. Many of the concerns and methods that underscore graphic designers’ own projects are echoed in the articles about the relationship between design, art and typography and the (still potent) myth of genius.

So where, in this continuum, should we place Richard Hamilton’s self-published White Book, a genuine labour of love that involved years of self-effacing typographic translation? Design, art, typography, history and criticism are all bundled up in this eccentric realisation of Marcel Duchamp’s notes made during the making of the Large Glass, a time, as Hamilton observes, when he was ‘struggling to affirm the dominance of mind over hand in the creative process.’ The Duchampian quest for the abnegation of self is explored further in an essay about the impossibility of minimalism in the face of abundance. While the provocations and questions of Duchamp’s gambits still vex the art world, the equivocal status accorded to graphic design means that designers can be conveniently free of such worries, happy, as Bruce Mau points out in Reputations, to work as both producer and critic. Put simply – in manifesto-speak – relax: you’re a graphic designer.

Graphic design has changed enormously since late 1990, when Rick Poynor, Stephen Coates and Wordsearch brought Eye into the world as a fully grown entity. It will continue to change, driven by cultural, technological and economic forces, and our methods of criticism will evolve to reflect and review those changes. An exciting future lies ahead for us all.

First published Eye no. 38 vol. 10, 2000

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can also browse visual samples of recent issues at Eye before You Buy.