Featuring discarded work only, ICBQ magazine wants to talk about rejection as a designer
Founded by a group of six from Falmouth University, ICBQ is now in its fifth issue and features work from emerging and industry names alike, including Yarza Twins, Happy Little Accidents and Jun Lin.
- Ayla Angelos
- 19 January 2021
In 2018 a group of graphic design students from Falmouth University joined forces to create a magazine titled ICBQ. Based on the idea of providing a space to house all of their discarded work – plus a combined interest in magazines, books and print design – ICBQ is a publication comprising elements that may never have seen the light of day otherwise. “Bits from projects that hadn’t made the cut, odd images that littered our desktops, experiments from workshops and so on,” says Alex Bassett, one of six designers involved in the project. “These conversations eventually crossed over and we soon made the first issue of ICBQ using only our own unused work. It was an exciting concept – most design magazines were focusing on very polished, very final work. It was really compelling for us to focus on the other side of that story."
Now in its fifth issue, ICBQ has evolved from featuring the founders’ offshoots and into a publication for both students and industry names alike, compiling their “stories, failures and rejections”, says Reuben Morley, working alongside Alex, Connor Edwards, Dylan Young, Tom Heath and Paul Merritt. Themed around the topic of freedom, issue five sees work from Yarza Twins, Happy Little Accidents, Finn Reduhn, Jun Lin, Sid White-Jones, Jonathan Quaade, Symbol Studio, Gregory Page, Tom Shepherd-Barron and Lily Hayes, thrown into a pleasing mix of aesthetics coherent with the content at hand. All of which add to the magazine’s ethos that discarded work should be celebrated, and the view that designers need to speak more openly about the work that doesn’t quite fit the bill.
The idea to dedicate an entire magazine on the topic of wasted work stems from the team’s uni days. Every Friday a different visiting lecturer would share their work with the students, offering advice and insight into the industry. “While this was invaluable to us at the stage of our careers, we noticed that many of the visitors only shared the final outcome of their projects,” says Tom on the matter. “We found when designers shared their process and even their failures, we learned a lot more about them and their practices. We also walked away with a better idea of how to approach our own work.”
With this in mind, the team decided to take matters into their own hands. Scouring through their archives, they dug out all the midriffs and unused ends of projects to form the publication, making sure to only include the parts that never made the final cut – those that would usually would be forgotten or lost in time to come. “As students and now as working designers,” adds Dylan, “it can be quite reassuring to see that sort of thing amongst al of the refined work – to be reminded that anyone can simply misinterpret a brief and work up a route for an identity which wasn’t quite right.”
GalleryICBQ: Issue Five. Schauspiel Köln rebrand, Happy Little Accidents. (Copyright © ICBQ, 2020)
The key difference with the latest issue, in comparison to its predecessors, is the design. By focusing on freedom, which can translate both through the contented with the fluctuating, a free-flowing visual language runs throughout the magazine. “This shift in process came about first when reflecting on the release of issue four,” says Alex. “We saw how the content had become so rich and varied as our submission base had grown, and we wanted to challenge ourselves to design the next magazine in a way that reflected each submission in a more fluid and individual way.” In this sense, the wide-reaching work, ranges from a self-initiated contribution from Yarza twins that helped kickstart their career, plus a rejected route from the thesis project of LA-based designer Jun Lin, an unsuccessful identity pitch from HLA Studio plus many more. Each previously discarded piece is designed to let the content sing, while adding to the coherency of the wonderfully diverse mix of content.
Eclectic and varying, the typeface used to signify consistency is MD System from Mass-Driver, a foundry based in the Netherlands, run my Rutherford Craze who was also on the same course as the ICBQ team at university. The typesetting was also a component that the team used to hold the issue together – “Especially with all the features being designed separately,” says Alex – and they decided to stick to just one sole typeface throughout the issue’s entirety. The cover, on the other hand, was also something that went under great consideration, with the end goal being that of a mash-up of features slotted together and forming a comprehensive canvas for the issue. “We designed it very much the same way as the magazine,” says Tom, “passing it back and forth until we had the right combination of elements. As you can imagine it took quite a while!”
The objective of ICBQ it to be encouraging and start honest conversations about rejection as a designer. It offers up a new perspective of the design process as a whole, and to the hidden parts of known and unknown designers’ work. “Rejection is something we all go through and there’s nowhere near enough discussion about it,” Reuben says, cementing the magazine’s ethos as one that’s rooted in positivity. “Right now, especially, with the awful news of so many people losing their jobs, more frank and open discussions about the less pleasant side of the creative industry is really needed.”
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.