Interview with DAD Graphic Designer Edda Salander-Jones
When did you start working on projects with Dover Arts Development (DAD)?
Well, I was involved almost from the very beginning. There were three founding partners to DAD; Christine Gist, Clare Smith and my mum, Joanna Jones. They hadn’t even really started on the realisation of their first project I don’t think, but they were talking about it. I had recently moved back to the UK from Berlin – this was in late 2005 and they were soon talking about setting up this “Dover Arts Development” thing… and I offered to design some business cards for the three ladies, as this was their most pressing need.
And the story was born out of these business cards. I had been in Berlin for 12 years so I had a specific take on graphic design at the time, but here in the UK I think it was, particularly in the South East, it was pretty fast forward: With the day-glow colours and the embossing and the beautiful spot gloss and the Helvetica Neue in Pantone warm grey 11 it was very of its time, I thought but actually it turned out to be a) pretty fast forward and b) they’ve really stood the test of time in the most amazing way.
The logo was established at that moment and that was it really – then the whole business collateral and the letterhead followed. I do think though that it was incredibly valuable to the process to have such great local printers as we found with Adams in Dover: they had the specialist know-how we needed in-house and gave a lot of care and attention to the job. It started from there: the visual graphic design process of DAD has really gone hand in hand with the establishment of DAD itself.
Edda’s iconic DAD business card design
So how did these designs evolve into other projects?
From a personal perspective, in terms of my creative process over the last 12 years, it’s been really like creating a work over time, so it’s almost as if the establishing of parameters for form, style and visual language has really just become more and more clear over time. Whereas for instance, during the first couple of years it was slightly more experimental, finding the balance between content and design: You don’t want to have a situation where the design is so rigid that the content is having to fit the design, but it’s also the case that you don’t want a design to be watered down so much so that it loses its impact – simply to accommodate the content. It’s really about finding that balance, and that’s been and continues to be almost the most important thing.
Having said that, I would now add that I have such utter confidence in the DAD design world that it comes very naturally. The first moment we talk about a new project that’s on the horizon and any visual element is discussed, my mind starts working on a specific colour range or a shape or a symbol – whether to add colour at all or whether to keep it very clean and plain. It’s a very organic process, very natural, as it were.
What’s been so amazing about CHALKUP21, seriously, is firstly that it was clear that Nigel Green’s wonderful photographs would be used. I had worked with Nigel before on a guide map (“sea & walk” is a map produced in 2010 of the North Downs Way Trail featuring 20th & 21st century architecture and the End of Trail Marker by Alma Tischler-Wood on Dover’s new seafront esplanade “Three Waves” by Tonkin Liu) , and I love Nigels work, so I thought, ‘great, perfect!’, and then I heard about Charles Holland’s plaque design and again I thought, ‘great, perfect!’ that’s another great element to work with. Then, of course, all the interviews and ideas that had already been generated around the actual content; the scope of the project itself and the key elements of the project – there was so much that had already been created in a way.
Alma Tischler Wood’s ‘Start/Finish Line’, (Photo: Nigel Green)
As it’s such a web-based project – was it difficult to know where to start?
I have to say, when I saw the plaque outline and saw the first sketch of Charles’, I thought ‘hm, this is very exciting’. This is something that I can definitely work with very well. And I knew about the idea of the artist’s responses, so I thought cool, there’s a pretty good chance of getting some lovely pieces that way! Then we also had the idea of asking Marcia Teusink to work on the drawing of the map, which is beautiful.
But I think I know what you mean; sometimes if there’s too much that’s already set it can be really annoying and really difficult and really challenging to try and work with something that’s so set. But I guess I was just really lucky this time with the elements that were set!
Charles Holland’s plaques, made at Spacer studio