"The centipede embraces the diversity of the community"

With only a few weeks to go, the count down to the Graduation Show taking place from 30 June until 4 July has started. Daniele (Fine Arts, 2019) and Kexin (Graphic Design, 2021) are creating this year’s visuals for the Graduation Show and Open Day (25 November). Every year, KABK alums can apply for an open call to design the campaign for these two events.

In this second of the two-part series of articles, Evita (Copywriter KABK) has a conversation with Daniele and Kexin about their concept for the Graduation Show and Open Day 2023 campaign.

Evita: Why did you two apply for the open call?

Kexin: Well, that’s a story. Daniele texted me with his idea and the question if I wanted to apply for this open call with him. Minutes after that, a friend of mine forwarded the open call because this friend thought it would be something I would be up to. So, no choice for me was left then to apply with Daniele.

Daniele: To be honest, I have sent several people a text to apply with me, but you were the first one to respond!

Kexin: Really? I didn’t know that! I am happy I did.

Evita: How is it to work together as a fine arts artist and graphic designer?

Kexin: Daniele tends to think big and very conceptual; I am good at reducing it a bit down making it more feasible.

Kexin, Daniele and one of the contributors in front of the centipede to be. Photo: Kexin Hao.

Evita: Can you tell a bit about the concept for the Graduation Show and Open Day campaign?

Daniele: My initial idea was to develop mascots representing each department because they are the embodiments of the question ‘how to we come together and represent ourselves as a group?’. My inspiration for mascots came from the book Polyamorous Love Song by Jacob Wren.

Kexin: I immediately got to like the idea; I like the idea of cartoons. It fits my style.

Daniele: So then we were invited to pitch our concept for the Graduation Show and Open Day. We received the feedback that it would be a challenge to agree upon one thing that represents a whole department. So actually, it would be difficult to come together. We then came up with the idea of a centipede representing the whole academy. This brought me back to where it begun for me, because on the book cover where I got the inspiration from, there is a real human centipede!

Evita: And then you did a workshop to come up with a design for the centipede, right?

Kexin: We both love participatory art, so we organised a workshop at the KABK. This way, we really came together with students and staff and that’s why it really represents the community.

Students working on the centipede. Photo: Kim Casamitjana Spennhoff

Daniele: I like working with people. Also, for me art is more about the process then about the result.

Kexin: I think it is of added value if your process is good. I also like working with people. So, we organised a workshop on 4 April in gallery 1 and 2. Around 80 people showed up and everyone liked the idea! We just created a space where people can be creative, we put paint, pencils, and many other things on tables. People just started to make whatever they wanted and hung it on the wall. It was fun doing this together with students and staff.

Daniele: Yeah, people came to us saying that there was a nice atmosphere and that it was nice to do something together.

Evita: How did you subsequently design the centipede from all those different contributions?

Daniele: We asked people to make something related to specific limbs of the centipede, to have a little bit of control. But then we needed to identify which ones represented the legs and which ones the head.

Kexin: Yes, it was a nightmare for me to put everything together, there were infinite compositions. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so it took a lot of time to shape the centipede and to find the perfect composition. In the end, we used about 70 percent from the contributions, and I am happy with the end result.

Evita: What do you want people to see if they look at the campaign?

Daniele: You can focus on the shape and look on it as a whole.

Kexin: Yes, or you can step in and look into the body of the centipede.

Daniele: Indeed, what do you see when you zoom in? Everybody can decide for themselves.

Students hanging their contribution on the wall. Photo: Kexin Hao.

Kexin: Yeah, when I now look at it, I think that there are so many artworks in it. The diversity in artworks is being embraced and with that also the diversity of the community. It’s so nice that the centipede is made with KABK hands.

Evita: You two did definitely not go for the most obvious.

Daniele: No, we didn’t even know the final outcome of the campaign ourselves, the campaign was totally dependent on the workshop. We just threw ourselves in at the deep end.

Kexin: It was not a linear project; it was not like we had a concept and now we have a campaign. I like it that we did it totally different and that we embraced the diversity.

The Graduation Show can be visited from 30 June until Tuesday 4 July.