Essay on Client Designer Relationships

Intense week of essay-writing. Lots of books used, more than above. I found Visual Research particularly useful.. may want to buy it from the library. I started the essay with a quote from it:

Put concisely, the business of design is to communicate other peoples’ messages to specified audiences. … Graphic designers are commissioned to employ their skills as communicators in the service of a client. (I. Noble. 2005) and (R. Bestley. 2005)[i]

[i] Cited from the article ‘The designer as author’, from‘Visual Research’, Ian Noble and Russell Bestley, Ava publishing, 2005.

We were also meant to include an interview if we could, I chose to interview GrandArmy, who are based in Brooklyn, furthering my interest in going there over the summer.

Here it is:

How long has GrandArmy been running, and was it difficult to get off the ground at first?

GrandArmy was formed in 2008 and is the collaboration of Eric Collins, Joey Ellis and Larry Pipitone. We started working together soon after we met in 2004. GrandArmy, in its current form, is a result of competition and collaboration within the group over the last 6 years. Forming the company just made sense to us, and the timing was right.

How many people do you employ, and what are their artistic backgrounds? And are you all in the studio most days?

Since we've founded GrandArmy, we've made an effort to work very closely as a 3 person collective. We all come from the same artistic background with formal training in typography. We are all writers, illustrators, designers and art directors. Also, we're equally skilled in film and letterpress. Often times when working on web projects, we'll try to implement something we've never seen before. In those instances, we bring in a developer we work very closely with. Maintaining GrandArmy is a daily process, for sure.

How have you built up relationships with your main clients - are they very involved in the design process or do they give you a lot of freedom?

We have always been most interested in doing good work for good clients. We're selective about who we work with. Most of our clients are creative people that really get it, so we have a lot of creative freedom. For us, the ideal client is one that is doing something really interesting and wants us to run with it. This totally differs from client to client.

How does your team go about researching and developing the project once the focus of the message has been stated? Or does it differ from project to project?

Getting to know your client is really about getting to know your target. Asking the right questions, like, ‘What do you need this to do?’ and ‘How do you want this to feel?’ Knowing what to do with those responses is what sets designers apart from audiences.

What are your favourite materials, processes or production techniques to work with?

Our favorite materials...well we think good typography is one of the best ways to communicate with people. We spend a lot of time on the computer designing type. We take a lot of photos and video. The computer is a tool like anything else you will find in a studio, and we use it as a way to both create and finish content. Other tools we like: tape, paper, blades, sharpies, pencils, xerox copiers, printers, Vandercooks and cameras ranging from iPhone to DSLR with video.

Stormtrooper costumes too.


Hope this helps. Take care and talk soon

Larry Pipitone



I also mentioned a London studio called Studio8, design writers Adrian Shaughnessy and Ken Garland, and the Graphic Art Fair called 'Pick Me Up' at Somerset House.