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Graphic design has traditionally been granted secondary status in the hierarchy of Western art practice. Yet, paradoxically, among the various practices which constitute art, it is perhaps the most important: its imagery is the most pervasive; its standing is such that it is assumed to represent a universal given; its links with consumption are considered preordained. To engage with this type of imagery with the intention of questioning the whole basis on which it is founded is a momentous task that few graphic designers have contemplated. It is in effect to embark upon the creation of new aesthetic codes and the formulation of a radical policy linking design to need rather than pleasure. Some pioneering artists have applied themselves to consider the function of design Ruhi Hamid is among them. She has been investigating the role of design for need in the Third World for a number of years. Born in Tanzania of Pakistani origin, Hamid moved to England at the age of twelve. In 1976, she entered Middlesex Polytechnic to study for a BA in Information Graphics. The course emphasis was on precision. Students were allocated very strictly defined briefs. They therefore had to examine in minute detail the requirements of each project and not only incorporate these requirements within their work but defend their methods of execution. It was an environment that engendered combat mentality. The initial shock of having been plunged into an arena that gave priority to articulation, argument, and by extension, self-examination, eventually gave way to a confidence that allowed Hamid to battle against the many problems that her work encountered at Middlesex. It was criticised as being "too political", as having little relevance to the 'real' world. She thus had to work twice as hard to prove herself and the value of her work. It was the same problem that she encountered at the Royal College of Art where she went after graduating .from Middlesex in 1980. Although she does not disregard the merits of the institution, in that it forced her to fundamentally reassess all the knowledge that she had so far acquired, it was too much an education in style. Encouragement to question the very basis of design function was less forthcoming. Thus she continued to work very much in isolation--fighting for her right to create socially valid work against an institution attempting to instill in her a less self-conscious radicalism. After leaving the RCA, she was offered a job in Holland which she was happy to accept. British graphic design, with its tendency towards conventional design, was too conservative for her purposes. The Dutch were far more accepting of experimentation. Studio Dunbar, a radical design studio, offered her work on the team undertaking the design of the signage system for the Rijks Museum. Through this more socially orientated working environment, which respected her need to work for the social sector (museums, hospitals etc.) rather than for more blatantly commercial concerns, she learnt to relax and allow herself the luxury of being...
Source Citation (MLA 8 th Edition)
Enahoro, Carole. "War is backward: Ruhi Hamid--graphic artist." Women Artists Slide Library Journal, Oct.-Nov. 1989, p. 14+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 25 Mar. 2019.
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