Today’s graduate, Andrew Lister has spent the last three years at Northumbria University studying graphic design. To summarize his approach to design he quotes Buckminster Fuller, “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
A fan of the films of Woody Allen, the documentaries of Werner Herzog and the comedy stylings of Alan Partridge Andrew heads across the Atlantic next year to begin the MFA Graphic design program at Yale.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I never really had dreams of being an astronaut or anything particularly groundbreaking. Being in a half-decent band or the time-honoured cliche of owning a record shop was always an aspiration and for a long time I wanted to be a music journalist. I think the idea of being paid to listen to music and go to gigs was pretty appealing but the whole thing seemed very fickle.
In reflection, how bad was your work in the first year?
First year was a slightly weird one for me, in that I actually had two. I initially started a broad-ranging BA Design degree at Goldsmiths, decided it wasn’t for me and started again at Northumbria. Work from my first year at Goldsmiths was, looking back, not bad. A lot of unfinished, unrealised ideas, a couple of which i’d still like to revisit. That’s not to say that some of it wasn’t horrendous. My response to a brief that asked “what is the potential of a candle?” was just a mess. My first year at Northumbria was punctuated with projects that were more concerned with style than substance and some woeful attempts at illustration but there was a project that I played around with seed papers and cyanotype exposures that had some potential.
If you could show a piece of your folio to one person, what piece would you choose, and who would you show it to?
Definitely the collaborative Crimson Hexagon publication that I worked on with Matthew Stuart. It’s been my first foray into self-publishing and the first chance i’ve had to work with someone with similar views on design. The project has provided a platform for me to both write and design, giving equal importance to content and aesthetics. In terms of who I’d show it to, perhaps Karel Martens or Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt of Dexter Sinister.
If you had your own business, who would you share it with and why?
The guy that I collaborated with on Crimson Hexagon and I have talked about starting up a studio in a couple of years, so that’s an option. But I’d quite like to run a restaurant with Larry David in the meantime.
If you’ve got any left, what will you spend the last of your student loan on?
Any money I have left is going towards the move to America. Despite some financial assistance, it’s still going to work out pretty costly.
Where will we find you in 12 months?
By then I’ll have hopefully finished my first year at Yale and will still have another year to go. Maybe I’ll be taking a customary road trip across America for the summer.
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