Alan Clarke’s Olympic Proposals

(Published in the first issue of Dais)

Alan Clarke’s Olympic poster proposals for London 2012 have given designers something positive to talk about in relation to design and the Olympics. Although they are not being used for the Games, take a quick trip around the various online creative blogs and you will find many who believe that they should be.

Alan’s proposals have, however, been used on the London Underground to work with the Transport for London branding. They were designed to help travellers associate specific tube stops with the Olympic events that are being held there. Alan has always been interested in the Olympics and their logos and graphical designs, as well as the rich history of art and the London Underground, both of which informed and inspired his proposals.

The posters work as what could be described as a set of optical illusions, each representing a specific sport. The designs focus on the movement inherent in the Games, conveying the athletes’ speed and energy in a simple, yet abstract, way. Alan’s objective is always to create a clear message throughout his designs with a classic and timeless approach, much like the Munich 1972 designs which are noted for their simplicity and clarity.

“The main focus to the project was that I wanted to find out about communicating to an international audience through signs, pictures, form, colour, symbols and way-finding,” he says. “I tried to repeat things a lot throughout the designs and simplify the elements as much as possible, pairing everything right back. I was trying lots of different ways of layout and elements on the page.”

Discovering Graphic Design

Alan graduated with a first-class degree in the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course at University College Falmouth in 2009. He has since had a huge amount of success with his work. “I have been very lucky, which I didn’t expect,” he said. “This has opened a lot of opportunities for me.”

He discovered Graphic Design through his Art foundation course. “I wanted to do illustration or fine art, but my tutor at the time showed me graphic design and I have enjoyed it ever since.” He described it as the first subject he had studied that he ever really enjoyed and defines it as, “Communicating a message, to a target audience, for someone else.”

When receiving a brief, Alan analyses it thoroughly to make sure that he fully understands it before asking the client to clarify the brief’s purpose again. Alan said that a large amount of research is always important on a project, especially to look at work that has been previously done for a company. He finds it helpful to gain advice and opinions from a variety of people, which has often helped him in his work previously.

“I just did projects that interested me the most and I really got into them and worked hard,” he says. “I think everyone works differently, I just found the way that worked best for me.”

Inspirations from Cornwall

Originally from London, Alan came to Falmouth in 2006, knowing that this was the right place for him to be. Cornwall has become a base for clear thinking and creativity for him. He loves the outside, and being by the sea has become a great influence; going surfing gives him a chance to clear his head when his ideas are not working out properly.

Alan gained motivation from his tutor at UCF, Sue Miller, who challenged and pushed him, making him want to work harder. He also finds inspiration in books on design, art, nature, designers, agencies and music. He is particularly fond of artists such as Patrick Caulfield, Ed Ruscha and Edward Hopper and designers such as Armin Hoffmann, Herbert Kapitzki, Willi Kunz and Otl Aicher.

UCF has always encouraged its students to enter competitions, and as a result has helped Alan’s work gain some well deserved recognition. His posters won best in show at the D&AD new blood exhibition, featured on Johnson Banks Review in 2009, appeared in Creative Review magazine and on their blog, and featured with an interview in the January 2010 issue of Wallpaper magazine.

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