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Manifesto for Design

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

The Art and Science of Graphic Design

Design influences society by changing opinions, instilling values, and translating experiences across space and time. It enables people from different cultures and times to communicate through images, sounds, and stories. It is an expression of the soul that experiences ideas and provides us with purpose and meaning. Design is a vehicle for time and social change that interconnects society, entertainment, politics, fashion, and technology that translates into popular culture—practices, beliefs, and rituals prevalent in society at any given point in time.

Professor Malcolm Garrett MBE RDI is a graphic designer who has mastered the art and science of creativity, as evidenced by a diverse portfolio that spans four decades. He has created landmark designs for musicians and bands, including Buzzcocks, Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Boy George, Peter Gabriel, Oasis, and Pulp, and done numerous innovative digital projects for clients such as Apple, Virgin, Warner Brothers, Transport for London, Christian Aid, and Design Manchester. He has also worked with publishing, film, and TV companies to reimagine their businesses through new media platforms and immersive technologies.

Malcolm Garrett fronting the Buzzcocks "Orgasm Addict" record sleeve that he co-designed with British artist Linder Sterling.

The manifesto for graphic design is:


Create, design, and make new things with childlike imagination and discovery by seeing the unseen and navigating the journey to get there by evoking magic and delight, dreaming up what doesn't exist, and turning your daydreams and imagination into art. Free yourself from any misconceptions, maintain a growth mindset, unleash your creative instincts, and let your ideas grow through the creative process.

"There are two stages to my approach. Firstly, I will begin to consider the problem in detail but think about it in the background while doing something else, such as going for a walk, watching a film, or reading a book. Often strange connections start to form, and by stepping away from the problem, new ideas present themselves and solutions become clearer. Secondly, don't waste too much time before you start drawing. Because once you do start, all of those things you've thought about and the odd connections you'd considered while doing other stuff start to influence the directions your drawings take."

Malcolm's design for the front cover of Buzzcocks "What Do I Get?"

2 Do-It-Yourself

Fearlessly lead toward invisible horizons by applying a DIY sensibility to finding the future by being adaptive, persistent, and resilient in bringing new solutions to market. Be independent-minded and self-sufficient from start to finish, always finding the alternative by rejecting the banal and status quo to create in your own authentic voice and style.

"I've always been instinctive and put myself forward to try things out. For example, many people have told me I was lucky to work with the Buzzcocks when I was still at college. Yes, I was, but there were 50 other students in my class who could have been just as lucky, however they weren't because they weren't looking in the same direction that i was and didn't seize the opportunity. So, in that respect, I believe you make your own luck."

Malcolm's design for the back cover of Buzzcocks "What Do I Get?"


Authentic Designers hold themselves accountable for their actions and have a social conscience and empathy for the environment by continuously managing innovation that powers the products they design, make, and sell, and the businesses they run. To care deeply about the world they live in, its inhabitants' inclusivity, and the pursuit of making people's lives better and moving society forward.

"I've come to understand that what I do is actually never really work that belongs to me. If you are designing, you are by default trying to communicate something for somebody else, to somebody else, by conveying information that belongs to a particular environment, to the people that need to experience it. For example, if you are designing a record sleeve, you're trying to convey the sense of the music, attitude, tone, voice, and style of the musician and the sounds they make, and translating that in such a way as to connect with an audience that wants to hear, or may not yet know that they want to hear those sounds. The better you do your job, the more invisible you as a designer become, because if the audience focuses on the design first, then that's interrupting the communications process. It's a distraction that confuses the messenger with the message."

A youthful Malcolm at work.


Creative thinking is looking at and approaching something in a new way. It involves lateral thinking by generating multiple creative solutions to the problem in a non-linear and spontaneous way by making your thinking more fluid and free by perceiving patterns that are not obvious and inventing or creating something novel, whether a concept, a solution, a method, a work of art, or an actual physical device. It applies techniques that drive evolution, synthesis, re-application, reinvention, re-imagination, disruption, revolution, and changing direction.

"If you're struggling when looking for an idea, don't agonize over trying to find it. It often helps to go and do something else, and an idea will find you – an unpredictable idea that is likely to be

random, but unique."

"What Do I Get?: 40 years of Buzzcocks and the art of Malcolm Garrett." poster for an exhibition celebrating Malcolm's distinct artwork at the Noho Showrooms in London.


Manifest how you feel inside and the things that you observe in everyday life, making connections from past to present, and across multiple disciplines and domains, regardless of how abstract they may appear at first, can help crystallize the solution to a problem and invent the future.

"It's all about making connections. I've learned over time that I'm as much a connector as a designer. To my mind, designing is about connecting. I connect people to information, people to people, designers to designers, and clients to clients. I like to find connections between things and people. My design work and design solutions are typically a combination of two or more seemingly disconnected ideas or thoughts that appear to me could be brought together to create a third thing."

Malcolm's design for Simple Minds' critically acclaimed album, "New Gold Dream."

Listen to the podcast

Music composed and performed by Iain Mutch

Twitter @malcolmgarrett

Instagram @beingmalcolmgarrett


Design Manchester


Roy Sharples

Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."

Photo credit: Brian Smale

Attitude. Imagination. Execution.

Unknown Origins. All rights reserved © copyright 2021

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