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Professor Rick Poynor – University of Reading

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    Using the University's design collections for teaching

Professor Rick Poynor

Rick Poynor is a writer, critic, lecturer and curator, specialising in design, photography and visual culture. In 2016 he joined the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication as Professor of Design and Visual Culture, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise on the creative world to our students.

Rick PoynorRick's career spans over three decades, and has been dedicated to the field of design writing, criticism and publishing. In 1986 he became an arts journalist with a passion for architecture, graphic design, photography and the visual arts.

"As a writer I have always been immersed in the visual and I think I live and breathe it as much as a designer does."

Around this time he published his first book, a multi-layered study of the musician Brian Eno with images by the artist Russell Mills.

"I was fascinated that someone like Eno, who was from an art school background, could make the transition from art to becoming a popular musician influenced by the avant-garde. He challenged what we thought was possible and from that point I wanted to focus in my writing on more experimental approaches to visual culture and communication."

By the end of the 1980s Rick was working as deputy editor of Blueprint, an adventurous monthly architecture and design magazine where he was a writer and commentator and he began to focus on visual communication.

In 1990 the publishing house behind Blueprint launched Eye, a quarterly international review of graphic design, which Rick edited for seven years.

"Eye was an international success. It managed to catch the mood of the moment in graphic communication and connect with a broad and progressive audience. I continue to write for it to this day."

Rick returned to full-time writing in 1997 and completed postgraduate research at the Royal College of Art on the post-war design magazine Typographica, edited and designed by Herbert Spencer, which was published as a book. He published three collections of his essays, including Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World, and, in 2003, authored No More Rules, the first study of graphic design and postmodernism.

"In postmodern visual practice, I liked the idea of crossover and hybridity, something that refuses to conform to a category. It's a combination of elements and the combination is a new idea."

Throughout his career Rick came into contact with Reading's Typography alumni and our students always made a positive impression on him with their approach to design. He is now Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University,  lecturing on undergraduate modules, contributing to "Design thinking" and "Design history", and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. He has a special interest in the department's use of its own extensive design collections and the university's collections for teaching.

"Reading has defined a very particular position in the design and typographic world. When the opportunity arose to join the team at Reading I knew I was interested. It's one of the most significant graphic communication departments in the country and a great place to be."

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