There still is a thing with graphic designers that people think, oh you are the person who does the captions ... I don’t want to do that. I’m too old. I don’t want to spend nine months doing some captions. That doesn’t interest me ... I just love getting really involved in a project and people allowing me to, you know. And then you get the best out of me. Morag Myerscough
Graphic Designer and Founder and Director, Studio Myerscough
I'm Morag Myerscough and I run Studio Myserscough and I'm a designer.
The designer as interpreter
I would never classify really myself as an artist as such, you know. I definitely like solving things. I am much, I am very, inside me is a designer. I love information and I love interpreting that information.
My mother is an embroideress and my father was a musician, and I came, I was brought up in Holloway, actually, in a family where we always were making, and even though my dad was, the one thing I knew I didn’t want to be was a classical musician because I just, I just thought that life was just not what I wanted. And when I used to see my mum draw, she would draw a plant in the evening or draw something, I used to think, or my mum would have something physical at the end of it. I know this is terribly naïve. And my dad would practise his instrument, and then he, and that would be it. But my mum had this drawing. And I think I always liked the idea of making and having things at the end of it.
The path to becoming a graphic designer
I went to Foundation at St Martin’s and they tended to sort of slightly, if you had, I had designed this school badge or something. You know, if you had shown some sort of slight form of a design discipline, then they slightly moved you in that direction.
And then when I was at the Royal College, I went to see the David Hockney exhibition, Paints a Stage, at the Hayward and I just really wanted to do stage sets. And it was that thing about, I didn’t want to design the programme cover; I wanted to understand the subjects that I work on, and also interpret them.
My favourite thing is to be in the studio and to do work and not to be out at meetings. I don’t mind meetings but I don’t really, I’m not a great meeting person. I really just like working.
This room is about making. It doesn’t have any computers in it or presenting. So usually it’s very blank in here at the moment. But these walls, if we do a presentation we often leave them up – that is a remnant of an image over there that we did a big presentation to... for the 30 year anniversary for co-existence. But usually we’ll have the walls full. But I think it’s also important to take it down and be fresh and then have another go.
So this is the studio, this is Avni. And in here it’s much more we’re on the computer, you know, it’s much more working from the computer and just cutting things out.
Involvement in every stage of the project
I do the art work. And that’s why sometimes people work for me and they think they’re too good to do art work or do certain things. I always find that quite difficult because I think that taking a project from right to the beginning and doing, you know, if we do the exhibitions, I will often art work the captions as well. And maybe that isn’t the best use of my time but I think if you want to do a job properly, you’ve got to know, understand every aspect of that project so that every bit comes out.
The Barbican and collaboration
AHMM were approached to go for pitch for the Barbican and it was, it was an architectural way finding project. And I was brought in very early on in that project and worked with them from the very, very beginning. So I would understand all their architectural changes that they were thinking about making, and we would discuss them. Collaboration doesn't remove individuality.
The image of the graphic designer
There still is a thing with graphic designers that people think, oh you are the person who does the captions. And you’ve got to stay in that little place over there, because if you start suggesting over here, and then I just think, you know, I don’t want to do that. I’m too old. I don’t want to spend nine months doing some captions. That doesn’t interest me. But I think when people do captions well, they, it’s worth them spending nine months doing it. But I just love getting really involved in a project and people allowing me to, you know. And then you get the best out of me.
Sometimes we have a lot of exhibitions to do and sometimes we do signage. And sometimes print. Less print these days. So if I use this year for an example, I’m working on a big gallery in India . We did a branding scheme for a development in Ghana . We’re working on an exhibition in Birmingham – Matthew Boulton.
So this is our working model for the Matthew Boulton exhibition and we build the whole thing to scale. And it’s really to actually explain to myself and also then to all the people involved, how you move through the space. And I always feel this is the easiest way to get it across.
The exhibition as a journey
I quite like narratives. You know, I quite like a journey. I like people to go on a journey in an exhibition and I quite like people to be able to make connections.
I did the Royal College of Art Great Exhibition with this, sort of, type going in and out, wooden type on the front, a year or so ago. And Icon approached me that they wanted me to do a cover and they wanted me to think about something that was not the same but in the same thought process.
As the big crazy exhibition I just did before Christmas, the Alan Aldridge. And he’s an illustrator and I didn’t know his work that well, I mean, it’s quite psychedelic, quite crazy. And again we were given all his stuff and that’s when with Avni [?] and there was Charlotte in the studio. And we sat down and we printed every single thing out, and we just looked at every single thing. And then we just thought, well, how would you feel when, what do you want to get when you go through this space.
I work most weekends. But I do sleep quite a lot in the weekend as well. [laugh]. And then I get up and do a bit of work and then I sleep.
But it’s so great because I don’t lose time travelling because I can get dressed and be at work in five minutes, you know. And I don’t ever come down... somebody asked me I ever come down in my dressing gown? No, no, it’s very formal, I’m always dressed fully.
[Pointing to a dummy] She was meant to be picked up but she’s still here, it’s a bit strange - and we do another one up there – so she’s my friend. Well, I know, that’s a bit scary. No, she’s not my friend [laughing]. I’m digging a grave now.