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Two Halves // Richard Knowles and Lawrence Zeegen

Two Halves Richard Lawrence version 4
Two Halves Richard Lawrence version 4

Written by
Helen Carney
Published date
31 March 2015

Two Halves is a regular feature spotlighting two people connected by London College of Communication.

Our aim is to showcase the conceptual intentions, deeper thinking and personal insights that come with the creative process.

If you would like to nominate someone for Two Halves, please email Natalie Reiss (


“The best projects are the ones that make a real difference to people’s lives, not make their business better or sell more products.”

• Officially [I’m the] Account Manager for Mortar & Pestle Studio but in a small busy studio, everyone has to do everything.

• Typically I can spend my week in client meetings, research, design and being the production manager, but if one of the computers goes haywire you’ll see me fixing that.

• Clients know that we understand the values of their brand and that we can communicate those ideas into the design and feel of the work we do with them.

• Occasionally I get asked back to speak with final-year students [at LCC] and impart some of ‘what I’ve learned’ to them, which is a joy. I was once sitting where they are, wondering what life would be like after I graduated. I often think, if only I knew then what I do now. But such is life, everyone has to go out there and let their own experiences dictate their careers.

• There hasn’t been a project that we have worked on where we didn’t look into the project from much more than a design point of view. Often, as probably all communication designers will have to do, we develop and implement branding, design and digital strategy, because these days and for as long as I can remember, design is much more than just making things look pretty.

• The hard bit is actually filtering out all the ideas that the team come up with, and structuring the project so it’s coherent.

• I’d be a fool to say I can do everything myself, because in reality everyone has a part to play and the best collaborators are the ones that aren’t afraid to put what they have learnt through past experiences into the next project.

• The only rule I have imposed on the projects we’ve worked on is that we stay true to the client’s vision and the purpose/goal of the project. Designers can often be called self-indulgent, but I like to stay humble, even in the background, when we’re essentially working on someone else’s business.

• The best projects are the ones that make a real difference to people’s lives, not make their business better or sell more products – the projects that were about changing the way people look at and feel about life.

• We were commissioned to re-design a children’s playground during my final year at LCC. It’ll probably be there forever and I genuinely feel it made a difference to someone’s life.

Richard Knowles is an LCC graduate in BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Account Manager at Mortar & Pestle:


“Have something to say, someone to say it to and a way of saying it that is your own.”

• I’m Dean of the School of Design at LCC and Professor of Illustration across UAL. I’m an academic, an illustrator and a design writer.

• The creative industries are in flux and in the School of Design we understand that we are in an era where nothing is certain and everything is to play for; society is still very much at the beginning of the digital revolution. We’re keen at embracing, predicting and leading change – creating students and graduates who will aim to rock boats, as well as row boats, and who will inform industry as well as be informed by it.

• I am actually working on continuing academic developments within the School [of Design] as well as looking closely at how we improve the student experience.

• The old boundaries and borderlines between disciplines are being eroded – the spaces between subject areas are more fluid than ever. I design, I illustrate, I curate, I write – they are all part and parcel of my life as an academic, designer and design writer.

• I’m in conversations at the moment with Klaus Voormann – he designed the sleeve for the Beatles’ Revolver album fifty years ago next year and I think there’s the potential for an interesting project in that somehow. I am also putting the finishing touches to a set of three stamps I am designing for San Marino.

• I actually don’t think it is possible to work on projects that are entirely solitary – working on the set of stamps for San Marino, for example, means working with the office commissioning the stamps and with the Vatican (this is a set of stamps to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of Pope John-Paul II), and whilst I may be the one designing the stamps there is much input from others.

• My work is grounded in reality but drawn from many inspirations – I look at the work of artists, architects, designers, writers, filmmakers, animators, games designers, information architects… (the list goes on) but the work I make is my own, it has its own personality. I learnt this as a student – have something to say, someone to say it to and a way of saying it that is your own.

• My proudest moment was a T-shirt design for Greenpeace that went on to be their biggest-selling T-shirt ever, raising considerable funds for the organisation. But actually, like most illustrators, the most important project is always the one I am working on at the time.

• I’m updating a book I wrote a few years ago called The Fundamentals of Illustration for Bloomsbury and I’m working on an exhibition for the House of Illustration as well as developing new research ideas and projects for 2016 and beyond.

• My first commercial project was a commissioned illustration for a magazine in the early 1980s called The Fred. It was a fantastic little publication, based out of a basement flat just off the Portobello Road, and it just cost £1. I created a set of illustrations based on a real-life barber’s shop in Camberwell – the barber took cash only and had a hand gun in a drawer as his means of defence against robbery. I remember him brandishing the gun on occasions when I went in for a haircut – they were different times and he was certainly a character, and deserved to be immortalised in print.

Professor Lawrence Zeegen is Dean of the School of Design at London College of Communication and is an illustrator and design writer.