Ken Garland

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Ken Garland
OccupationGraphic designer and photographer

Ken Garland is a British graphic designer, photographer, writer and educator. He has made a significant contribution to the development of graphic design since the mid-twentieth century and formed the prolific design studio Ken Garland & Associates in 1962 (until 2009) in Camden, London, where he continues to live and work.


Ken Garland & Associates included a small rotating group of designers over its 47-year period including Robert Chapman, Ray Carpenter, Trilokesh Mukherjee, Gill Scott, Patrick Gould, John O'Neil, Norman Moore, Frank Hart, Daria Gan, Colin Bailey, Peter Cole, Ian Moore, Paul Cleal, Richard Marston and Anna Carson. They worked with clients such as Galt Toys, Dancer & Hearne, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Barbour Index and Keniston Housing Association.

Prior to forming the studio, Garland worked with editor Michael Farr at Design magazine, where he held the position of art editor from 1956 to 1962. The state-funded publication by the Council for Industrial Design formed the basis for Garland’s future work – human-centred, elegantly simple and rigorously conceived. Prior to this, Ken Garland studied design at London's Central School of Arts and Crafts and upon graduation in 1954, did an apprenticeship with the trade magazine Furnishings.[1]

Garland has written for numerous graphic design and visual culture publications including Baseline, Blueprint, Creative Review and Eye magazine and as well as authoring titles such as Graphics Handbook (1966), Illustrated Graphics Glossary (1980), Mr Beck’s Underground map (1994) and A word in your eye (1996). His most famous piece of writing about the ethics of graphic design is the First Things First manifesto of 1964 that advocated ‘in favour of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication’.[2] He recalls first scribbling it down during a meeting of the Society of Industrial Arts: "I found I wasn't so much reading it as declaiming it ... it had become ... that totally unfashionable device, a Manifesto."[3]

...we have reached a saturation point at which the high pitched scream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the world. ...

— Ken Garland, First Things First, 1964.

The manifesto was signed by Ken Garland’s graphic design colleagues, friends and former lecturers such as Edward Wright, Anthony Froshaug, Robin Fior and Ken Briggs. Its style encouraged commercial artists to share their opinions and experiences to inspire others in the design industry. In addition to being reprinted several times in design journals, it was also published in The Guardian.[4]

In 1999, the manifesto was re-signed by 23 prominent graphic designers and critics;[5] both manifestos have been widely written and spoken about, as well as republished, throughout the graphic design community. In 2012, Garland published ‘Last Things Last’[6] in Eye no. 83 vol. 21 which, among other things, refuted the division between designers and clients, of ‘us and them’, in favour of designer / client partnerships.

In 2008, Garland and his wife, artist Wanda Garland (Wistrich), founded Pudkin Books, a publishing venture issuing a series of picture books under the general heading ‘a close look at...’ in A6 folded fore-edge format.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adrian Shaughnessy, Ken Garland: Structure and Substance. Unit Editions, 2012. ISBN 978-0-9562071-9-7


  1. ^ Adrian Shaughnessy, Ken Garland: Structure and Substance Archived 2013-02-15 at the Wayback Machine. Unit Editions, 2012.
  2. ^ "First Things First 1964 a manifesto". Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  3. ^ Poyner, R (1999). "First Things First Revisited". Émigré.
  4. ^ Gonzales Crisp, Denise (2009). "Discourse This! Designers and Alternative Critical Writing". Design and Culture. 1 (1).
  5. ^ Rick Poynor (1999), "First Things First 2000", Emigre magazine (51), retrieved 10 February 2014
  6. ^ Ken Garland (2012), "Last Things Last", Eye magazine (82), retrieved 10 February 2014

External links[edit]