Ragged University Graphic Design by Chris Behr
The graphic design of the Ragged project was brought together by Chris Behr when there were differences of opinion amongst the various people who were involved at the very beginning. For example, what font should be used, what colour, what will the logo be ?
To resolve this Monty Python moment I (Alex) said to the group that we will get someone with expertise in the area and take their advice. I got in touch with Chris Behr, who was a local graphic designer who had a bunch of experience in various areas. A talented gent who has worked in newspapers, magazines and in various areas such as business logo design and advertising.
Being a generous person who also believes in free education, he offered to create the brand guide and do the graphic elements for the whole project. This is extremely valuable as the design of something determines how much people generally engage with it. A practical example might be, the better food looks, the more attracted people will be to put it into their bodies.
So after a chat, explaining that the project was about sharing our knowledge and skills in the traditions of the Ragged Schools, Chris kindly set to work interpreting the many opinions that inevitably come from a group of people. I gave him a guarantee that this would not be a situation of ‘design by committee’ and that we would follow the advice he gave.
The professional way in which Chris works has affected us all in a positive way. We all learned how much there is in the art and science of presenting information. He helped us organise our thoughts and clarify good practice in terms of approaching consensus. Monty Python syndrome is never too far away in any joint endeavour, and Ragged University is not about creating little weather systems of politics but instead, just getting on with many achievements where everyone pitches in. Chris provided leadership for us all.
So here is a documentation of some of the graphic design work which he has created for the project through good will and many years of investment in his subject:
The above brand guide was what Chris originally brought together to give the basis of a Pantone colour logo which was simple enough to reproduce but sophisticated enough to embody the core ideas in the Ragged University project.
Working through conversations, the colour was decided by taking the mix of split opinions; some wanted red, some wanted blue, so I suggested to Chris that purple was the way we would go. The choice of a Pantone colour was so that the colour could be reproduced with consistency across printed media and merchandise such as t-shirts. Pantone is something of an industry standard of colour systems and technology for accurate colour communication. Getting this correct from the beginning was an important step, it can make all the difference in terms of manufacturing costs and quality control.
The design of the logo was an interesting and enlightening creative experience. The story behind the use of the oak leaf was the story of Bauchis and Philemon. This story was an inspiration taken from Jes Haley, and draws from an ancient Greek tale of the best qualities of humanity winning over Zeus. Instantly, when I heard this, I knew it was the heart of the project.
Wikipedia describes it: “In Ovid’s moralizing fable (Metamorphoses VIII), which stands on the periphery of Greek mythology and Roman mythology, Baucis and Philemon were an old married couple in the region of Tyana, which Ovid places in Phrygia, and the only ones in their town to welcome disguised gods Zeus and Hermes (in Roman mythology, Jupiter and Mercury respectively), thus embodying the pious exercise of hospitality, the ritualized guest-friendship termed xenia, or theoxenia when a god was involved.”
Baucis and Philemon were turned into an oak and linden tree upon their death, the couple were changed into an intertwining pair of trees, as was their wish. The oak being a classical symbol of knowledge and learning, as well as a part of hospitality and friendship, meant that it was perfect.
The creative practical process which Chris led us all through help us collectively organise our thoughts and structure them in such a way as to effectively express what was at work in the project. His patience was appreciated and it has always been impressive as to the diligent and quick way that he got the work back to us well before the deadlines it was needed.
In the above you can see an example of how he scaled the brand he created, extending it to the various project arms which opened up as more people got involved.