Fifty Years Exhibition of Graphic Design at Royal College of Art

Taking place on the 5th November and running right through until christmas on the 22nd December, Graphics RCA at Kensington Gore (London SW7 2EU) is free admission.


When the Graphic Design course at the Royal College of Art opened in 1948, it signalled the beginning of a new era in the education of designers. Out went the old ideas of the ‘Commercial Artist’ and the ‘Poster Artist’, to be replaced by a new concept – the professional graphic designer.

Richard Guyatt was the man charged by Robin Darwin, Principal of the College, with creating a ‘new department providing specialist training in all the many facets of graphic design’. Guyatt shrewdly spotted that there was an urgent need for skilled and professional visual designers in the emerging post-war world. It was a need that was not being met by the Art Schools of the day. ‘The training in “commercial art” offered by the Art Schools,’ he wrote, ‘was inevitably sketchy and amateur reflecting the unsure and ill-defined nature of an emerging profession. Art Schools taught “Art”, and their attitude towards the applied arts was either over-precious and archaic, or cold and disdainful. “Commercial Art” was just beginning to be recognized as a possible profession, but with little enthusiasm.’

Guyatt wasn’t lacking enthusiasm, and his efforts ensured that graphic design became firmly established at the RCA under what he called a ‘banner of professionalism’. In 1963, to mark the transformation, Guyatt curated an exhibition “GraphicsRCA. Fifteen years’ work of the School of Graphic Design”. The show included posters by David Gentleman; book covers by Alan Fletcher; a cookery strip by Len Deighton; the set for BBC Television’s ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ by Cliff Hatts; and a still from Ridley Scott’s student film ‘Boy and Bicycle’.

Now, slightly over 50 years later, the RCA is replicating Guyatt’s bold gesture and presenting a new exhibition of graphic design: ‘GraphicsRCA: Fifty Years’. The show celebrates a half-century of creative excellence. Many of the leading graphic design practitioners of the modern era are graduates of the College, and the work that has emanated from the RCA has consistently led the field in inventiveness and radicalism. The exhibition highlights the many ways that RCA graduates and tutors have stood at the forefront of graphic design practice.

5 November—22 December 2014
Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore
Free Admission

Website | @GraphicsRCA