Waste It Ain’t

Like last year I have had the great pleasure in producing a poster for WWF’s Earth Hour campaign with Do the Green Thing. I say great pleasure because I absolutely mean it. If you have had a design studio for as long as I have you will know that generally my days are filled with emails, meetings and document writing and that all the exciting stuff like designing is given to our (brilliant) design team. All this paperwork is important but ultimately not very creative and is not really why I went into design in the first place. So I jump at the chance to actually do something myself instead.

Last year I used my collection of plastic flotsam. This year I went messy. Having spent the last 18 months behind the doors of recycling and recovery facilities for my other job (Co-director of Design at the RSA and project director of The Great Recovery) I now find it very hard to throw things away. It’s kind of a magpie complex what others see as waste, I seem to see beauty, colour, opportunity.

The journey for this piece started with a conversation with Sion Whellens from Calverts, our friendly litho printers. It went: ‘do you throw ink away?’ ‘No.’ ‘What happens to it then?’ ‘When someone specifies a pantone colour on their piece of print we buy in enough ink to print with. Ink comes in 1kg tins and generally we don’t use it all up. A tin which is more than half full is marked up and put in (and on) our (overflowing) cupboard.

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After a few years, if no-one has specified that colour again it has probably passed its sell by date so we empty the ink into a big vat and it gets taken away and recycled into oil products but not into new ink.’

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This vat of ink is sticky smelly and gloopy but full of colours of the rainbow from past jobs – annual reports, comics, art books, posters, promotional leaflets…lovely. I pull some out and mark up the tin; ‘magic ink’ and take it back to the studio.

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Printing it was a challenge. The subject deemed it to be messy and gloopy so basic printing etiquette was out the window.Image

The effect I wanted was drippy

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but as soon as I pulled the ink down with a squeegee suddenly all the colours appeared, like a rainbow in the dark black clouds!Image

It took two weeks to get close to drying but the result is out now here. You can even buy one! The money goes to Do The Green Thing, a great cause and the poster was part of the WWF Earth Hour campaign.

I also helped judge and mentor the young creatives entries which was great fun. You can see all of these here as well as last years collection. I met someone last month who said they had mine on top of their 3D printer as it helped him stop printing when they didn’t need to – an interesting progression from ‘do you real need to print this out?’ footer on the bottom of emails!