Graphic Designer-as – A research project on self-initiated publications designed and authored by graphic designers

Pauline Piguet, 2020




The research Graphic Designer-as- is an exploration on the topic of self-initiated publications made by graphic designers which aims to highlight the professional conditions and network of production of self-publishing as well as the cultural, political and economic importance and meaning of such projects. 

Interested in exploring self-initiated projects made by graphic designers in addition to their commissioned works, I focused my research on books that are designed and authored by graphic designers in the past two decades mainly in Switzerland and Europe. Interviews conducted with authors and self-publishers and a cross-referencing with the relevant literature allowed me to gain insights on the production contexts of these self-initiated publications. 

The observations on graphic design through self-publishing carry out the objective to provide information about the profession of graphic designer and the multidisciplinary aspect of the discipline. Geared towards practitioners from the design and art scenes, with an interest in editorial practices, the project also aims to provide a didactic introduction to students entering the world of graphic design as well as to an audience generally interested in the production contexts in the field of culture at large. 

A general purpose of the research project is also to provide a space for exchange and critical assessment through design research to discuss the numerous subjects that define the professional life of graphic designers such as the evolution of the profession over the years, the status and role of the graphic designer and its work, the funding and distribution mechanisms behind self-publishing or the education and research on the field. Indeed, to tackle these topics would allow for a better understanding of the profession of graphic designer and the potential inherent improvements that could be relevant, both for the community of graphic designers and education in graphic design. 

The outcome of Graphic Designer-as- is articulated in three distinct and complementary parts: an exhibition, a publication and a series of conversations. 

The exhibition consists of a selection of self-initiated publications and questions their intrinsic issues within the field of graphic design. The exhibition format allows for a spatial and inclusive visitor experience.

The publication features the content presented in the exhibition as well as additional reflective texts written by a selection of guest authors. This format ensures the dissemination of the content as well as provides a perspective at a fixed moment in time.

The series of conversations widens the possibility of (re-)discussing the various statuses of graphic designers involved in self-publishing. It aims to raise awareness among visitors and participants about the issues addressed in the exhibition and publication.

Exhibition Rendering
Exhibition Rendering