Serendipity led me to stumble over one of the most influential designers and educators of the ‘Swiss’ school.
My intake at college was the product of what was known as ‘The Bulge’ (later called ‘Babyboomers’) – the children of soldiers recently returned from the war, though for some reason it had taken a couple of years for our parents to get their act together. At grammar school we had four forms in our year, where other years only had three. At college too we had the biggest intake, but this could not last – some culling was needed. As well as the natural pass/fail at the end of the foundation course, it was decided to run an additional course for students who didn’t quite make the grade for the three year Dip course. This was to be a two year commercial art course.
I had been lucky, having had a certain epiphany towards the end of my foundation year, thanks to my avid reading habit. I began to understand the principles and logic behind the course and, despite months of loafing, applying this understanding to my final projects I was to crack the code and achieve some grades that delivered me top of my year.
If reading had been the happy accident that led to a measure of success, there was to be another boost. My ‘prize’ for my final result was a voucher for one of the more academic bookshops in Manchester. Having already decided that graphic design was to be my next direction I sought out books that would boost my scant knowledge. Browsing the shelves I came across a title that was to be a revelation and a source of ongoing inspiration – ‘The Graphic Design Manual’, by Armin Hofmann. I had never heard of this legendary designer and educator, but sensed that there was something special here. This, together with two books on typography, was to prepare me for my first real studies in graphic design.