Week 30 – David Shrigley ‘Good Ideas and Bad Ideas’ at the D&AD Festival 2017.

On Thursday last week I made my first appearance at the D&AD festival on Brick Lane in London. On the whole it was a really enjoyable experience, I got to observe many interesting things and participate in a number of activities in my time in London. The highlight was to hear a talk from one of my favourite Illustrators David Shrigley.


Figure 1 – Arriving at the D&AD Festival 2017 (Lewis, 2017)

Now his talk was what I expected it to be me for the most part, humorous, dry and sarcastic much like the Illustrations that have made him so popular and big in Illustration. Despite this there were still a number of interesting points and insights to take away from his appearance.


Figure 2 – Awaiting the start of the David Shrigley talk (Lewis, 2017)

The first thing I took away is that to be true to yourself and how you feel is important to stay sane in this industry. Sometimes his work was tongue in cheek and downright rude at times in relation to the brief he was asked to work on, yet his ability to illustrate humour so simply and directly means that he was able to get away with it and still meet the brief, he talked about his work for FIAT like it was a joke and couldn’t believe they accepted it from him, I myself used to work for FIAT and would be pushed around by panic decision making for the best part of a year like it was a life and death situation if we couldn’t meet their deadlines. It was an interesting contrast to hear in person.


Figure 3 – David Shrigley Fiat 500 Adverts (Coloribus.com, 2009)

My memories of David Shrigley start with my flatmate covering his halls of residence with random doodles and scribbles and placing them in strange places inspired by Shrigley. After seeing more of his work online and on the television I also managed to visit his show at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank in early 2012. This was my first opportunity to see him in person.

Hero1600x630-David Shrigley Brain Activity credit Linda Nylind.jpg

Figure 4 – David Shrigley at the Hayward Gallery in 2012 (Southbankcentre.co.uk, 2012)

I enjoy his simple style and mockery of most things in a simple and direct way which is what makes it funny,  it’s very good comedy a lot of his work, he can make light of pretty dark topics and can deliver some great work with his observations on life that many of us have encountered, equally find annoying or empathise and can easily relate to his work in that respect.

There was one particular insight that he made that caught my attention and stuck with me, he mentioned during his talk that he thought ‘the diagram was a dying form’ (Shrigley, 2017) and that this was regretable, my first thought was that I just didn’t believe that was true and that surely there aren’t many better ways for children to learn than through diagrams especially in the likes of Biology and Geography in particular.


Figure 5 – David Shrigley talks at the D&AD Festival 2017 (Lewis, 2017)

I also thought of the recent data visualisation project and how that is still very much an industry on the rise and some jobs purely exist to create and work through masses of data. Though I did then remember that while the internet was full of bad examples of data visualisation and my favourite example is from the 1800’s.

I also thought about the increased popularity in visual cv’s, the rise of the infographic to turn for example boring polling data into animations highlighting the key figures to make the data more accessible to a wider audience, I also started to think about the emoji itself being a visual diagram or representation of how you feel about something, a response to a situation becoming standardised to the point of which we are even starting to form a light emoji language of sorts.


Figure 6 – The festival is over until next year, thanks for having me (Lewis, 2017)

Now I fully know that I need to explore this idea in much further depth to come to any kind of decisive answer to Shrigley’s comment. I’m sure there are many example I could look at either way to support or dismiss his words before deciding which side of the line I would fall on, it would make an interesting study none the less, if it turns out to far from a dying form then why are those new forms not drawing as much attention and why, this could all make for an interesting study in itself.


Coloribus.com. (2009). Fiat 500: “NOT EXACT” Print Ad by Krow Communications. [online] Available at: https://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/fiat-500-not-exact-15142805/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Dandad.org. (2017). Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design Awards | D&AD. [online] Available at: https://www.dandad.org/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Southbankcentre.co.uk. (2012). David Shrigley: Brain Activity | Southbank Centre. [online] Available at: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/venues/hayward-gallery/past-exhibitions/david-shrigley-brain-activity [Accessed 5 May 2017].


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