Before branding, before big-data analytics and strategic lifestyle quantification, before modernism verses postmodernism, and long before Pepsi sponsored stadium rock tours, is a weird, sliding feeling in the gut. A completely subjective but undeniably real physical trespass on habit guarded senses. A rare moment of elevation to a strange truth. This is where it starts. A Grapus poster. A painting by someone called Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri or Velazquez, or by someone called Phase2. A Jenny Holzer electronic billboard. A Vaughn Oliver record cover. In a school library. In a record store. On the street. An encounter that itches to be reborn. Designers crave to provoke these moments with our own work – often before we are even aware there is a profession that can accommodate us. Truthfully, how many designers only burn to shift a unit, or grow a profit? (Don't answer that.)
The tension between private and public is a fundamental creative energy: what we know and feel and believe; and on the other hand what the weather's doing and who's running the country. Our work reconciles this dialogue between the stuff inside us and the realm around us by finally stepping blinking into the bright glare of the world.
This site is intended to gather together projects that have excited, frustrated, enriched and inspired us, and we hope, equally engaged our audience.
The client isn't mentioned here, not of course because they're unimportant, but because there is a balance to be redressed. Contrary to the popular premise of commercial visual communication we don't necessarily see our role as selling the client's product. Hopefully they don't need us for that. We figure the unique qualities of their product or service should sell itself. Our role is to communicate these qualities because anything beyond this is a deception.
After all, if the only qualities that differentiate a product are superficial elements of contrived visual seduction, then in the midst of the climate crisis and a world of rapidly dwindling natural resources, maybe it shouldn't even exist? (OK, so if you're a multinational softdrink manufacturer thinking of hiring Inkahoots, we accept you've probably lost interest by now.)
Inkahoots doesn't quite fit into any of the usual industry molds. Sometimes this helps the business, sometimes it harms it. But it's what we are. Over two decades we've evolved from a collective of community artists, screen-printing political posters in a union basement, into a multidisciplinary design studio that continues to hustle for social change through visual communication.
We work mainly in the community and cultural sectors. Not just because that's where the best work is, but because we figure our environment is already cluttered with sophisticated corporate imagery that often doesn't represent the community's best interests. Alternative visual messages struggle to be heard above the rowdy din of dominant media. They need to communicate incisively with compelling power and drama, or even quietly with careful subtlety, just to compete.
Inkahoots has none of the traditional design studio hierarchy – no art directors, senior/junior designers etc. Everyone receives the same hourly rate and working conditions. This is not just about socialism, but also about respecting the most precious of available assets – the creative process. We're passionate about our work, and the role of our work in a broader social context. It doesn't make any sense to us to diligently recycle waste paper, then go and work for a client who in policy or practice is fucking up the environment. Not that they'd want to work with us anyway. Graphic designers are well used to corporations appropriating alternative visual languages for mainstream audiences as a cynical device to manipulate an audience within the sanctity of their own cultural codes.
Big issues and subtle messages need a powerful visual voice. Inkahoots are renowned for evocative design with emotional and cultural relevance. Our unique expertise is working with complex subjects requiring sophisticated and original design thinking – connecting intellect and intuition.
We design democratic spaces for productive social resistance and public dialogue. We collaborate locally and internationally on projects of all sizes across a wide range of media, specialising in the creative intergration of physical and digital experiences.
"Let us redouble our attempts to find both in action and through our contact with the masses the methods of struggle best suited to each situation." Atelier Populaire, August 1968
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