Profile: Open Manifesto

Published:  October 26, 2011
Brita Frost
Profile: Open Manifesto

The labour of love defines the graphic designer – allowing a practice to develop in often unexpected ways, it also contributes a certain dynamism to Australia’s design culture.

Over the coming weeks eight labours of love will be profiled.

Open Manifesto
Founder: Kevin Finn
Open Manifesto was founded by graphic designer, Kevin Finn, in 2003 and has since garnered international acclaim as a limited edition independent, self-funded and self-published journal of critical writing on graphic design culture.

What prompted you to start Open Manifesto?
I was extremely fortunate to achieve many of my professional goals early in my career. Although this was exhilarating, what I saw ahead of me was a repetitive path based on a formula: take a brief, do the best work possible, hope to win an award; take a brief, do the best work possible, hope to… and so on. All of a sudden, design seemed a little one-dimensional, so I decided to question myself and my profession though the pages of Open Manifesto. I must add, this was a catalyst in my career, because I’d actually been thinking about a publication project for eight years prior to this point. I had previously felt I wasn’t qualified or experienced, but I’ve since learned you just have to follow your interests, even if it does make you a little vulnerable.

How rewarding has it been for you?
Incredibly rewarding! I never thought Open Manifesto would be any way near as well-received as it has been. More than that, the knowledge gained from the contributors,
some of whom are the most respected thinkers in the world, has been more than worth the investment.

What has been your happiest moment working on it?
There have been many, but one that stands out is an email I received from a young high school student saying he stumbled across Open Manifesto and that – aside from enjoying that particular issue – it got him interested in his English class again. In fact, he said it got him back interested in reading in general.

How important are labours of love to design culture?
If there is something you are passionate about, and are continually learning from as a result, then I truly believe one must pursue it, regardless of your professional field. However, wouldn’t it be better if a side project could become your primary work (and income)? My view is: begin a project out of passion, but then look to transition this to become your primary focus, as opposed to remaining an evening and weekend hobby.

What do you think you have achieved with Open Manifesto?
My aspiration has always been to provide a platform for debate where Australians can have an equal place in a publication alongside the likes of Edward de Bono and Noam Chomsky, as well as some of the most significant designers in the world. Another constant objective has been to include non-designers in the conversation surrounding design culture, which I’m thrilled to have achieved. There are plenty of publications that follow the format: ‘designers, talking to designers about design’ and, although this is important, I wanted to speak to experts outside the design discipline because we are all connected.

From desktop magazine.

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