Tzortzis Rallis – MA Graphic Design
Tzortzis Rallis completed the MA Graphic Design course at LCC. His research into typography, print-based media and visual culture led him to continue his studies in a practice-based PhD at the College, with a focus on agitational graphics.
Can you give us a short bio, explaining your current context and trajectory up to this point?
I am a graphic designer and researcher. I studied graphic design and fine arts in Greece, Spain and the UK. After finishing my Master’s studies in Graphic Design at LCC, I have been working as a freelance designer for creative studios and publishers in London such as Barnbrook, Thames & Hudson and the British Library. Currently I am a PhD student at LCC undertaking practice-led research on contemporary agitational graphics. I am also a member of the Design Activism Research Hub. My interests include typography, book and editorial design, as well as the exploration of the impact of visual language in the public sphere. I am a member and co-designer of The Occupied Times of London and co-founder of the Occupy Design UK projects that provoked debate about the nature of graphics of political media.
Why did you decide to complete the MA Graphic Design?
After completing my undergraduate studies and working for a few years in editorial design in Greece, I decided to apply for the MA Graphic Design course at LCC in order to advance my understanding in visual communication in a practice-led academic environment. My main interest was to explore typography, print-based media and visual culture. In this decision, the tradition of the College (formerly the London College of Printing), as well as the design and research work of a number of academics in the MA Graphic Design course, also played an important role.
What were the highs and lows during your time on the course?
One of the most valuable experiences during my time in the course was the development of an understanding of design-led research. This was underpinned by the diverse and interdisciplinary community of students and staff, which offered chances to produce both, individual and collaborative work, as well as to critically discuss about it. Independent of the structure of the course, it was beneficial to be able to use the resources at the College to expand skills and knowledge of areas such as printing, book arts, photography in relation to design practice. I think the most challenging part was the initial period of adaptation in the autonomous work and research that are required in this postgraduate environment.
Can you explain, in summary, the focus of your research at present?
My current research is partly an evolution of my MA research project. The purpose of this research is to explore the graphic attributes and visual strategies employed by the social movements that emerged as a response to the global financial crisis. This is a practice-based study and it involves visual typologies, design case studies and collaborative workshops. These methods were initially developed and tested during my MA. The research aim is to integrate theory and practice to create a visual guide for graphic design activism and to channel it into socio-political initiatives.
Where do you see progress and/or decline in the study/practice of graphic design?
I see progress when graphic designers critically question the cultural, social and political impact of visual communication in every-day practice. I see decline when the study/practice of graphic design is limited in a culture that is shaped by the commercial paradigm.
What three words would you use to best describe LCC?
What piece of advice would you give to applicants considering an MA?
I would like to advise new students to use their time, resources and the network of peers and academics to fully explore the potential of their practice. It is important to think of what they want to achieve in their future professional or academic development, but also how to possibly transform design approaches and investigate alternative ways of working and thinking. The period during the MA is a rare opportunity to dedicate a year or two to critically investigate a field of study that they are passionate about.