From the famous London Routemaster buses, to the iconic tube map and modern architectural masterpieces such as The Shard, London itself is a design masterpiece. For graphic designers and design-lovers alike, it presents a wealth of inspiration. Whether you want to research specific genres of design, top-up on your design history, go to a festival, shop for prints or check out work from up-and-coming designers, London has it all in abundance. Here are our favourite places for getting our Graphic Design kicks in the UK’s capital.
1. Design Museum
The Design Museum is about to change its location from Shad Thames to Kensington. Its new location is a refurbished and redesigned 1960s Grade II listed building and has been transformed by a world class design team.
The New Design Museum will continue to host exhibitions featuring cutting edge design when it reopens on 24 November. The first exhibit will be ‘Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World’ which consists of commissioned works from 11 different artists. Graphic designers can muse over the happenings of today and see if this new collection truly captures the prevailing mood.
2. Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is perhaps one of the most famous international modern and contemporary art museums in the world. The main museum hosts the national collection of British art from 1900 onwards. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 and is now the sixth most visited art museum in the world.
The main collection contains eight areas with a named theme or subject. There are other parts of the gallery open to the public including the Turbine Hall, Project Space, The Tanks and much more. From exhibitionist photography to performer & participant projects, there truly is something for everyone.
3. Tate Modern – The Turbine Hall
This part of the Tate Modern used to house the electricity generators of the old power station. It has over 3,400 square feet of floor space and is five storeys high. It is specifically used to showcase large works by contemporary artists that have been specially commissioned.
The Turbine Hall was originally only supposed to be used until 2005 but its popularity ensured new exhibits continued to be put on display. You can view the latest exhibits by booking them in advance and some of them are Free. These wonderful pieces of work enable you to ‘think big’ and create art on a much larger scale.
4. Tate Modern – Pop Art
This art movement flourished in the 1960s and created legends such as Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein. It began as a revolt against the ‘traditional’ approaches to art and culture as young students believed the art they were taught in schools had little in common with their everyday experiences.
The Tate Modern features a wide variety of pop art classics so even if you missed its EY Exhibition (which ended in January 2016), you can still view iconic representations of popular culture.
5. The V&A
The V&A claims to be the “world’s leading museum of art & design” and all exhibitions are free once you become a member. There are approximately 2.3 million objects on permanent display and you can view creative masterpieces from over 5,000 years ago.
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In celebration of our major autumn exhibition You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970, join us next weekend, 4-6 November, for a weekend of free music, events and activities inspired by the ‘swinging’ sixties. Kicking off with a one-day international symposium, the weekend is filled with events including a live performance from Beatie Wolf & The Pack, the London premiere of John Lennon's 1964 book In His Own Write, a pop-up recording studio hosted by Levis®, a Revolutionary Reading Room as well as a host of family events. Free drop in, some events may be ticketed. Find out more at vam.ac.uk/whatson #RecordsandRebels Image: Che Guevara © Alberto Korda; Twiggy, 1967. Photo by Bert Stern. © Estate of Bert Stern. Used with permission of Bert Stern Trust; Germaine Greer, Photo by Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns/Getty Images; Andy Warhol © Greg Gorman/Contour By Getty Images; Jimi Hendrix © Joe Roberts Jr; John Lennon © Larry Smart; Allen Ginsberg, 11th June 1965, photograph by John Hopkins © Estate of John Victor Lindsey Hopkins.
One of the best things about the V&A is the lack of boundaries. It proves that art comes in many forms including jewellery, fashion, furniture, textiles and ceramics. Whether you are inspired by 17th century European art or Oriental tea sets, the V&A is the place to be!
6. Hackney Flea Market
The Hackney Flea Market is the site of a sensational DIY Art Market that celebrates the talents of London’s emerging and established artists. When you visit you will see a selection of work from approximately 60 artists.
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Today until 6pm!! Hackney Flea Market returns to Abney Hall, stoke newington N16 12th 13th November with over 50 vintage traders, with tables pilled high with antique oddities, mid century gems, rare records, and rails, and rails of vintage clothes. Come have a rummage.We open at 11am. Free Entry #vintagefair #vintage #Hackney #hackneyfleamarket #midcentury #midcenturyfurntiture #kitchenalia #fleamarket #retro #londonvintage #london #vintagestyle #vintagefashion #fashionblog #vintageclothing #vintagejewelry #hackneyweekend #shoplocal #eamesera #fashion #dalston #hackneyvintage #hackneyweekend #theolddalstonmarket #olddalstonmarket #stokenewington #n16 #hackneylondon #industrialdesign #bricabrac #vintageblog #londonvintage
Not only can it inspire you to create your own special designs, you can use it as a means of getting discovered! It has grown into a monthly market that showcases designs and you can browse goods or promote your business while a unique soundtrack fills the background with stunning music.
7. The Cartoon Museum
The Cartoon Museum is a real treat for fans of animation as it provides you with a detailed look into the history of British cartoon & comic art from the 18th century to today. The museum was opened by cartoon and art lovers in 1988 and after exhibiting in an array of small venues, it was moved to central London in 2006.
As well as seeing original artwork from the very best British comic designers, you are also certain to come across hidden gems. With over 5,000 books of cartoons and comics available for research and another 900 books on the history of cartoons, it really is a museum for all ages.
8. The London Design Festival
The London Design Festival is relatively new and was only launched in 2003. The idea behind the festival was to create an annual event that would bring together the best of London’s creativity.
It usually takes place over an eight day period and the programme is made up of 400 exhibitions and events. The festival helps cement London’s place as the world capital of creativity as it attracts designers from all over the world. The 2017 event will take place from 16-24 September.
9. Snap Store
SNAP Store may seem like an unusual place to find inspiration but it is a shop that specialises in the sale of uniquely designed items. This includes stationery, prints, greeting cards, children’s goods and accessories.
You can find SNAP in East London where it was first opened in 2012. It focuses on the sale of bright, modern work and it is always interested in finding and featuring the work of talented graphic designers. If you want your work to be seen by a wider audience, get in touch with SNAP store today.
10. Nelly Duff
Nelly Duff is the place to be if you love unusual art as it features work from the Tattoo, Street and Graphic Art worlds. As well as displaying the work of London’s finest creative minds, it also exhibits work from artists all over the world.
If you like the weird and wonderful aspect of creative design, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the huge number of exhibits that cater for even the most eclectic of tastes. Nelly Duff was one of the first physical spaces that exhibited street art internationally and it features art you will never see anywhere else.
11. Royal College of Art
For lovers of art, the RCA needs no introduction. It is best known for offering postgraduate degrees in art and design and is home to students from over 60 countries. The RCA is currently ranked #1 in the world when it comes to Art & Design courses according to the QS World University Rankings.
But you don’t need to be a student to appreciate the immense number of exhibitions. As well as featuring work from designers around the globe, the RCA regular hosts talks from the leaders in architecture, design and art.
12. The London Illustration Fair
The London Illustration Fair takes place from 1-4 December 2016 and is an annual event that celebrates the immense creative talent that exists in London and all over the world. It is an artist-led graphic, print and illustration design fair that allows artists to meet their favourite illustrators and vice versa.
Returning to the Southbank for its fourth year, The London Illustration Fair 2016 will bring together over 65 of the world’s hottest emerging illustrators, designers, print makers and publishers for a three-day illustration extravaganza.
There is an incredible amount of events across the four day Fair including workshops, talks, music, illustrations and murals. There are even a range of stands selling ceramics, jewellery, homeware and much more so as well as being inspired, you may find some great Christmas presents too!
Magma is another store that specialises in the sale of creative products such as books, t-shirts, artwork, prints and much more. It was founded by Marc Vialli and Montse Prats in 2000; they had previously worked together in an unsuccessful art bookshop.
Their goal was to create a unique store that sold everything from games to stationery with an emphasis on chic design. The store itself offers a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere; combine that with the rich range of unusual goods on offer and you have a recipe for creative inspiration.
What are you waiting for?
If you already live in London, you have arguably the world’s greatest creative playground at your fingertips. If you are serious about graphic design and don’t live in the capital, it is worth booking a few nights in London as the innovation on display could be the catalyst for the creation of your own masterpieces.
Remember, the truly great designers and artists were inspired by something or someone. If you want to maximise your potential, you need to check out the creative hangouts above; you can bet other talented creative minds are doing so right now!