Three soon-to-be graduates Deirdre Rawle, Conor Foran and Lucas Garvey, launched the second edition of Bare “An NCAD-based magazine, that exposes and promotes the work of art and design students while believing that process can be more exciting than the finished piece”.
The students juggled planning, funding and creation of Bare during the final semester of college, wedged between crits and the graduate showcase. Above the Fold caught up with the trio ahead of the launch of their final year exhibition on Friday 9 June.
Why did you decide to establish Bare?
C. 2014-2015 was an extremely tough year for the college (NCAD) especially in terms of press. While the first issue of Bare did not directly react to this negativity, it aimed to install a certain pride in the work being produced by the students.
L. The idea for Bare originally started as a fun magazine project that none of us really thought would grow into much more than just that. Then it began to form more so more out of a need than a want, there was very little platform for students to showcase their work in NCAD, and little initiative that recognised students for exceptional standard of work. We felt that this was something that would be well received in NCAD, and something that we would enjoy putting together.
D. It was born out of the combination of a need for some kind of platform for the NCAD students and graduates that were making incredible, and our general need to make things/work on something outside of college briefs. People share their work online and we’re bombarded with imagery but there’s always more to it than a few lines on Instagram, or even on a website. What are they influenced by? What went wrong in the process? How did they arrive at that outcome? I want people to tear out pages of Bare and stick them on their wall for inspiration. If even just one person reads Bare and finds something that makes sense to them or inspires them in some way, I’d be happy.
I want people to tear out pages of Bare and stick them on their wall for inspiration.
Can you describe the concept behind the title and/or design?
C. After many, many title ideas, Bare came from the sole purpose of the magazine itself: to ‘expose’ the work of NCAD students, in a way that makes the process the focus of discussion. The phrasing also hints at a kind of honesty present in each interview — in other words, to bare all. The word ‘bare’ also suggests a lot of space, and the design definitely reflects this with an airy, ample layout.
L. We chose the name Bare initially because of a ridiculous inside joke, but as the magazine began to take form we realised that we were quite objective in our approach, and it was no longer about us or “the magazine” it was wholly about the student’s work. So we decided to take a step back and let the work speak for itself, and we, as the curators and designers would remain “bare”.
D. It’s also about there being nothing other than the work; the magazine has a purpose and a specific intention and that’s to showcase excellent art and design. Bare is a blank canvas that’s about displaying the work of those involved and the design reflects that. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. For the first issue when it came to elements, like including an editor’s note it seemed too serious. So instead of including any of that, it made more sense for us to make the note illegible and we did the same for issue two. People keep asking what it says, never mind what it says, it’s not important—just read the interviews and look at the work.
What are the positive aspects of setting up an independent publication and have there been any negative drawbacks?
C. Independence means freedom, and this is definitely true in the production of Bare. We are free to choose what Bare can look like, what it is and can be, its purpose and intent. I mean, in terms of the interviewees, Bare becomes more about them than it does about us, and rightly so. Deirdre, Lucas and I just become messengers for these artists and designers, and their work. Though there haven’t been a lot of negative drawbacks, getting money was hard. And we’re so grateful to everyone who donated and helped us to create both issues.
L. It was a huge learning experience in terms of fundraising, printing and organising the event for the launch night, but the best part was simply being able gather and present what NCAD has to offer, which otherwise wouldn’t be subjected to as wide an audience. Exactly, the most difficult part in the overall process was funding. I’d say the amount of emails we sent out for sponsorship could circle the world more than once.
D. There were a lot of positives. We had total control, creatively and otherwise. People love giving you advice, and we were given loads of great info from people who were more experienced than us. At times our lack of experience was a negative—problems would come up that we weren’t expecting and sometimes overcoming those problems took time, we had to figure it out step by step. We learned to expect and accept plot twists and deal with them as they happened. Things will go wrong. Don’t panic, don’t quit.
Having said that, I can fully admit that it took us a long time to print two issues because we had a lot to learn about a lot of things. People came and went from the team but the three of us stuck together and not knowing what we were doing never stopped us from doing it.
We learned to expect and accept plot twists and deal with them as they happened. Things will go wrong. Don’t panic, don’t quit.
Were contributors issued a theme or brief ahead of submissions?
D. There was an open call a few months ago, we were surprised with the number of responses we got and it was shit going through these talented people and choosing whose work to include, that was one point where we sat back and said we’re not qualified to do this. It wasn’t a brief in the sense that we weren’t looking for work around any particular theme or particular types of outcomes but we were looking for work that’s a bit mad and was the baby of excellent research. “Strictly Bare” I think was the term we used.
C. For both issues, it was important to exhibit the scope of talent in NCAD. Limiting the artists and designers to a prescribed brief seemed inappropriate, especially when we wanted to showcase what’s currently happening in the college. No-one is encouraged to create new work for Bare, it’s better that work is created without a magazine interview in mind so it holds authenticity as a piece of art or design.
Bare is clearly a product of collaboration – between the editors, creative director, designers and writers. What makes a great collaboration?
D. Collaboration means setting aside your ego and trusting people to do what they do. We were extremely lucky that all of the artists and designers were on board with what we were doing and were extremely helpful. We met some fantastic people and it’s great to get to understand someone’s process.
Maybe when you’re at a stage in your career that you’ve got a team of people around you who can do social media, or spell checking, or making videos then you can avoid leaving your comfort zone, but if you’re like us and you’re only a baby in your industry then get over yourself. Get your hands dirty in all the boring and difficult bits of a project or it won’t happen.
L. Working collaboratively has its pros and cons, and it’s certainly not an easy thing to do. Between the three of us, the best thing was that we were all good friends, so every meeting was like a casual chat, and always a bit of a laugh. It was important that none of us took ourselves too seriously, and respected each others’ opinions. We generally tended to agree on most things, even though we were all varied in terms of personality and our personal work. It was the balance of similarities and differences that made the perfect Bare team.
C. Compromise! Compromising is so important. Being stubborn gets you nowhere. Learning to stop and come to a conclusion, a deal or a half-way point is sometimes necessary. I think as young artists and designers it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to impress people and be at the top of your game, when you really should be talking to people and trying to understand and learn from them.
As you mentioned, you decided to crowd-source to fund your latest issue. How did that go?
D. Crowd funding was stressful. It’s weird because you’re asking strangers and non-strangers to have enough belief in what you’re doing to support you financially. I found that crazy but it’s a fantastic thing—the number of projects that get to come to life because of it is incredible. It was stressful and it’s really hard to know if people will believe in what you’re doing, but they did and we got Bare printed and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who helped us. Woo!
L. Crowd-funding is an excellent idea that can work extremely well for some projects and when promoted properly, we unfortunately were so busy with our final year projects throughout the entire process that we just couldn’t possible have the time to give it our all, and so things like the crowd-funding really suffered, when it had the potential to blow up.
Do you have any tips for readers who might be thinking of crowd-sourcing for a project of their own?
D. I don’t think the rules are any different to making any other work, you need well researched, well executed, interesting content that’s worth giving your attention to. If it’s worth your attention and it’s well done, it’s probably worth sharing and if it gets shared and seen by enough people the money will hopefully follow.
C. Videos are so essential. And planning! You’ve got to be ready. You need to utilise time as best you can to get the most (money) out of it. Don’t underestimate how much money a single tweet of your campaign may get you.
L. The key element that was missing at this step in our process was organisation. If we had initially contacted all of the promotional companies that we spoke to towards the end, it would have had much more time to gain momentum. Organising regular social media posts, printed advertisements and other promotional material that creates the potential for conversation between likely donators is all crucial.
Your graduate exhibition launched on 10 June, can you give our readers an idea of what to expect?
D. Ooh. The signage and branding just went up and it looks so good. It’s going to be great.
L. The graduate showcase is the most exciting time of the year for NCAD, it gives people a chance to ramble around the grounds and pop in and out of every different department to see the graduating classes’ work. As regards to Bare and Visual Communication, there is a wide variety of projects dealing with multiple social and political issues that resonate personally with the members of the class, and Bare is on display too.
What’s next for the Bare ensemble?
C. It’s hard to say. I don’t think there’ll be much Bare action until at least after the summer time. Bare evolved a lot from Issue One to Issue Two, so who knows what number Three is going to look like. D. We’re going over to London in July for the ISTD awards, and we graduate in November. Those are the two main things, I’m certain of at the moment. Everything else is up in the air.
L. We haven’t decided what exactly Bare’s next step is, and it very much depends on each individual members plans. I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll see of Bare!
What’s in store post-graduation (for each individual*)?
C. The aim is to stay in Dublin. There’s no way I can move home (sorry, Kilkenny). I like to keep busy, and this past year with Bare has taught me that I’m better at juggling things than I had previously thought, so I’ll definitely try and keep this creative buzz going. It’s been a hectic academic year so I’m excited to work or intern (if my destiny permits it) but also to have my weekends back for evening pints here and there. God knows I need it.
L. My plan is to work in the industry in Dublin for the next couple of months and get a feel for it whilst working on my own personal projects, and planning some larger-scale projects. Then the intent is to move off to Germany or Holland to work in the industry there, before doing a masters.
D. We need to get jobs now, I suppose? Use what we’ve learned? What have we learned?! Aside from the technical skills and ability to go from the research stage to production in a project, learning how to balance your time is a useful skill to have going forward, I think? The three of us took on as much work as we thought we could handle this year, and with it being finished now I can look back and say that having a full plate was a good thing.
Bare is currently on display in the Visual Communication department at the National College of Art and Design’s graduate showcase until Sunday 18 June. Keep an eye out for future editions on Bare’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.