“I enjoy baffling people to see how far I can abstract an idea while still delivering its message” says Andrew Duncan, and by both counts the University of the West of England graphics graduate can declare his work as a delight and a success. Using widely unfathomable scientific notions as his subject matter, this designer utilises a universal language of “fun” and “funny” to create bold, graphic pieces of communication that the take form of posters, book works and animations.
Patterns, abstract shapes, overlays and codes – for Andrew these are not random, trendy graphic devices to be used simply for aesthetic effect; in his work communication is key, so adopting a symbolic vernacular reserved for explanatory theories and diagrams is no coincidence. He even goes so far as to use it in describing the even less fathomable, and much less scientific, formula for romance.
“I am very far from being able to define a consistent working process. Instead each project I take on tends to meander its own way towards a solution. In some cases my work is process-led, other times I begin with an idea and let it mutate.
After spending this year fully submersed in work, at times drowning (but also surfing) I look forward to being able to readjust to a more humane existence."
Why or who or what made you go to art school?
I guess it all started with an innocent multi-pack of felt tips, then on to the harder stuff like Microsoft paint and the heads-bodies-legs game. Drawing was a way to harbour an early kinship I had with primates, and a way to be better than my class rival who drew a really good wolf. Also, drawing in bible class was a way of not listening to Jesus.
Drawing became an extension of my personality, it was a way to make people laugh – that always seemed to make so much sense to me, bringing laughter or bewilderment to people – and I still think it’s a really worthwhile pursuit.
What’s the best mistake you made when you were studying?
This is tricky as I am completely reliant on mistakes. It’s the mistakes that lead to the best ideas and most unlikely route to a solution. I guess if I really had to pick one it would be the timely braking of the spinning record player in “the film formula”, it was completely unintentional but brought an ideal ending.
If you could show you your work to one person, who would you choose and what would you show them?
Blimey what an offer! I could go for the tactical choice here and say some big shot media baron, but I think the three-metre long arm I made, complete with orange latex glove, would get a good reaction from a Neanderthal. I’d hope that it would create a similar reaction to that in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It would be interesting to see how a Neanderthal could use the arm to advantage himself against his fellows – perhaps it could even alter the path of our evolution!
Can you give us one prediction about your work for the next year?
I’m hoping I can seek out, or create problems that will allow me to cross breed my interests in creation. I want to adopt more performative and interactive based work that can interconnect the making of images, objects, costumes and short films. Essentially more making, loads more! Oh… and collaborating with all kinds, including scientists?!
What’s the best thing you saw in the last three years?
It would have to be something I saw from my time spent in Berlin on exchange. Perhaps the clincher was climbing the stairs to the top of the Teufelsberg tower – on route being confronted by a sinister naked man, while hearing cultish chants and screams from above. I expected to find some kind of sacrificial event awaiting my arrival at the top, but instead found the inside of a Geodome with some insane acoustics and sun bursting in through a small opening that revealed some mad forest views.
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