Can self expression subvert the normative design process?

Kiss My Teeth

Classroom Project
B.Des 2017
Graphic Design

student social︎︎︎

A fun dilettante zine publication celebrating the outcast; celebrating filth. It attempts to decolonize the modernist lens of graphic design and reconnect with the maximalist roots of Indian visual arts in the most offensive/unapologetic/uncensored manner possible.

‘Minimalism is dead. Long live tacky extravagance, performative excess, artless luxury, and all forms of opulence for its own sake. Long live bad taste.’ - Anon

Through this project, I wanted to re-examine and re-evaluate the modernist lens of graphic design, study its origins and present day applications whilst unlearning the visual vocabulary 'rules' taught in an institution. Through this, I could explore a more opinionated/intuitive approach. Having dabbled in traditional forms of art in my previous projects, I was beyond excited to discover the post-internet movement and use the Web as a medium of storytelling. Content on the internet is highly democratic and evocative, which was the tone of voice I went for to almost disregard design critique. 

The process was dangerously intuitive. I was constantly changing the content to achieve some sort of a balance between effective storytelling and blatant recklessness. I realised very quickly that after 4 years of design education, making something “ugly" is the hardest thing one could do; which only made the process more fun. I was constantly thrilled by the infinite charm of being utterly instinctive in my approach.

Since this was my final academic project, I felt like I attacked it with a subconscious agenda in mind. Design school unknowingly makes students mimic someone else's formula of success. This leaves very little freedom to find something new and fresh. Education needs to liberate creatives and encourage them to listen to the voice that already exists inside them. If we can achieve that, we can eradicate the exhaustion that comes with practicing design. The sheer thought of people making things that come to them naturally makes me giddy.

I owe this project to everyone I have met in my 4 years at NID, who forced me to not be afraid. All of my favourite works are a result of wild collaboration with my friends. Design does not exist as a solitary practice, so it was challenging to find motivation. I lucked out in a way that my faculty guide pushed me to pursue a topic I was hyped about from the get-go.

I think filth of all kinds needs to be celebrated. The purpose of the zine remains, regardless of the topic of discussion in every issue. It is not looking for agreement; it is looking for heated discussions about shared frustrations. Shared grievances are the best way to make friends. The project was a good starter to move towards the inquiry of opinionated design practices with the subtext of neutralizing the effects of colonization of design. It was a catalyst. A lot of work needs to be done in this direction, collectively, to see design in a democratic light. I work and play with honesty and instinct, and this project solidifies that. I want to figure out a way how designers can do that in real life. Design isn't a commodity/service; it is a voice, an opinion, and I wish to see a shift in the industry that accommodates original points of view. I would love to work towards it.


Works by Brad Troemel and Molly Soda gave me a lot of direction and made me even more motivated to be as naughty as possible.