Graphic Design Project Week 2024 - Crafting Change: Mastering Tools for Impact

18 januari 2024

Charging the designer’s activistic toolkit

A Graphic Design Project week, 16-18 January 2024

As a graphic design student, you navigate a diverse range of skill-based learning experiences, both digital and analogue. From coding and filmmaking to type design, your educational journey involves developing these skills within assignments that prompt questions about society, your personal beliefs, and your ability to create compelling narratives for your audience.

During the 2024 project week, there was room to amplify the power of those skills and tools for greater impact. Our lives and creative graphic design practices are cast against the backdrop of pressing global issues, including war, climate change, environmental crises, political upheavals, suppression, discrimination and intolerance. These challenging circumstances urge graphic designers to explore modes of empathy and avenues for expression—be it a bold statement or a subtle whisper, whether standing alone or united with others.

As designers, we have the unique opportunity to influence perceptions, spark conversations, and inspire change - activism through graphic design. By tapping into a range of possible skills and tools, you can contribute to the creation of alternatives, innovations, and visual narratives that challenge the status quo. Crafting Change is an exploration of the intersection between graphic design and activism. Let's not just communicate messages; let's make an impact and push the boundaries of the activist visual domain.

Opening lecture by Lukas Engelhardt & High on Type Guido de Boer & Ivo Brouwer.

1. Fake it 'till you make it

Have you ever tried to open an image of a banknote in Photoshop? If so, you know that Adobe won't let you do that, warning you about the restrictions for copying and printing money instead. Which begs the question: why can't we design money?

Graphic Design project week 2024 - Fake it 'till you make it - Lukas Engelhardt
photo: Frederik Klankberg

Lukas Engelhardt is a graphic designer and artist creating and exploring (supposedly) autonomous spaces, both online and offline, and tries to understand the tactics, terms and conditions necessary to negotiate and maintain them.
Quentin Creuzet is a Paris based designer and developer and is our coding tutor of year 3.

2. How to deflate SUV tyres

This workshop involved making printed matter for direct climate action. It was a collective effort where production and action were prioritised.

Graphic Design Project Week 2024 - Workshop: How to deflate SUV tyres
photo: Frederik Klankberg

Teachers for this workshop are graphic designers Elisabeth Rafstedt and Johanna Ehde of the Rietlanden Women’s Office and tutors Typography year 2, in collaboration with Sanne Beeren who supervised the work in the letterpress workshop.

3. Movement by moving

In this workshop, we researched how to express ourselves both individually and as a group within the context of activism. How do you deliver an impactful message for social change? We delved into the possibilities of typographic expression and tone of voice, through form and language.

Graphic Design project week 2024 - Workshop: Movement by moving
photo: Frederik Klankberg

Guido de Boer and Ivo Brouwer are both part of the collective High on Type, a group of collaborating artists, calligraphers and designers. Handwriting is the basis of everything they do. The pen, movements, letterforms, ink and a surface. These are the tools and at the same time the boundaries of the playing field, to explore and stretch that same game in residencies, collective work, festivals, performances, presentations and teaching programmes.

4. Staging the message in design = politicising the means, instead of a political message





Graphic Design project week 2024 - Workshop: Staging the message in design
photo: Frederik Klankberg

Phil Baber is a graphic designer, editor, and writer. He teaches typography year 3 in our department and writing at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.
Els Kuijpers is a critic, curator and lecturer on communication design. She teaches design theory, history and discourse at KABK.

5. Printing for the Community

As much as it did in 1968, today screenprinting provides us with a fast, cheap and relatively easy tool to spread our messages throughout the community. Even while using the most straighforward tools, with a little extra effort, the message can have that edge that makes it more inviting, striking or powerful. This will take it beyond the boldness of the proverbial protest poster.

Graphic Design Project week 2024 - Workshop: Printing for the Community
photo: Frederik Klankberg

Harmen Liemburg is an artist/designer and obsessed with screen printing, he uses the medium to create a variety of unexpected results. Richard Niessen is a graphic designer known for his colorful and expressive works, and initiates autonomous projects is our 3rd year graphic design tutor.

“During this projectweek I had a great time delving back into a medium I hadn't used in a while (screenprinting). Met some new people from the other years, and gained some more knowledge about screenprinting and all it's pro's and cons.”
Simcha van der Veen, Year 2 student

6. Beyond Despair: Designing in Times of Crisis

With the world on the thrones of a humanitarian crisis, many feel paralyzed and uncertain about their contribution. This workshop seeked to mobilize and make distant matters more accessible, bridging the gap between despair and involvement by assisting participants to channel their sentiments into making material and publishing.

Graphic Design project week 2024 - Workshop: Beyond Despair: Designing in Times of Crisis
photo: Frederik Klankberg

Rasha Dakkak is a Palestinian maker and educator with curatorial and publishing projects. Rasha was recently appointed Head of Graphic Design at Rietveld Academy. Alex Farrar is an artist and teaches Image in year 1. Alex explores making processes in complex relationship with form, often drawing directly from the ‘nervous body’ and involuntary emotional expressions.

7. The Kite-Club - Workshop Activist Kites

Scheltens & Abbenes known for their meticulous constructed photographic still-lives now provide a workshop kite making and flying in which they share their love for single line kites.
Within the worldwide craft tradition of kites this workshop aims for a contemporary outcome using inktjet printing techniques to translate your 'activist design’ on a kite.

Graphic Design project week 2024 - Workshop: Activist Kites
photo: Scheltens & Abbenes

More information about Scheltens & Abbenes.

8. Typography on the Move

In this workshop students explored the possibilities of animated typography and variable fonts in three-dimensional space within the framework of Activism; mastering tools for impact.

Graphic Design project week 2024 - Typography on the Move
photo: Ingrid Grunwald
Graphic Design project week 2024 - Typography on the Move
photo: Ingrid Grunwald

Marte Verhaegen is a freelance type designer and Python enthusiast based in Belgium. She graduated from TypeMedia. She likes to approach type design from various inputs and materials, be it code, concrete, or color. The utilization and exploration of different tools as part of the designer's toolkit are central aspects of her practice.
Jakob Schlötter
is our coding tutor of year one and a media artist & developer.

"I really enjoyed the Animated Typography course from this year’s Project week. In 3 days, I was able to gain good knowledge about Robofont’s interface, in addition to learning how to interpolate type for other future projects."
Olivia Huynh, Year 2 student