16 May
12:30 – 14:30 Workshop with Katarína Balážiková



Using the troubling times for visualising critical approaches.


Project is an online collaborative meeting of graphic designers interested in critical practice. It's aimed for graphic designers that are open to critically reflect the world they live in and are not afraid to show what they think with the tools of visual communication.

Naturally, not every graphic designer feels the need for a critical approach. Designers like to stay „neutral“ while designing. However there are many arguments why design can never be neutral. There are more interpretations why. One of them say that it was due to the modernistic design theories and traditional historical concepts of the definition of profession that pushed us into these neutral roles. Design was presented as arts&crafts and profession built with Bauhaus tradition for so many years, that there is no wonder. We have been historically and traditionally seen as problem solvers not problem givers - as professionals who help to communicate others‘ ideas and messages with help of formal inventions rather than participating on the content itself. In case designers wanted to raise their voice, they more likely proceeded it verbally or as physical members of street protests.

Nowadays, I believe time has changes. We live in media society where medium is the message. Since the late 60s, appearance of First Things First Manifesto, Jan van Thoorn ideas from the 70s and new theories of design studies, the definition of our profession has dramatically change. They all have seen the great potential of design as a platform for social critique, visual journalists or reflective autonomous creation. They all believed that graphic design as a medium became a message itself and that can never be neutral.

After years of my research about this topic, today I also think, design can be a great platform for raising our voice. So why not to use the power of images, type and other forms of graphic design to give attention, raise awareness, give questions, provoke the public, make others think or make protests. Especially now in times of COVID-19, when we face health threats, social isolation, pervasive paranoia and many new emotional situations.

During this workshop participants will try to visualise their thoughts about the times of physical and health threats, social isolation and pervasive paranoia with using of protective mask that is covering our mouth - the most common tool for the verbal representation. Their thoughts will be first transformed into messages during short brainstorming and after discussion some of them will be chosen to create a plan of their visual representation and implementation for a specific target group. Also, the aim is to perform them directly after the workshop and publish them at - an international blogzine about critical practice in graphic design that will help promote them.

Workshop will be streamed live and will be open to feedback from the public. Feel free to join as a participant or just be an active viewer during this session online!

Requirements for participants

This workshop is aimed for professional graphic designers or students. No matter if you are a beginner, intermediate or a professional, you should be familiar with the basics of this discipline and graphic design programs to be able to follow the workshop and get some expected results.

Resources and inspirations: The First Things First Manifesto, Jan van Thoorn, Cactus Network, Miekke Gerritzen, Metahaven, Francesco Laranjo
More about the critical practice: application for video streaming with free account. Working from a laptop (rather than a smartphone or tablet) is recommended.

Please check your Zoom setting before the event starts -

Katarína Balážiková

Katarína Balážiková is a graphic designer living and working in Bratislava. She finished the degree ArtD in Visual Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Her research focused on critical practice in graphic design and visual communication. Recently she is teaching her own course called Critic – Critical Practice in Graphic Design at the Department of Visual Communication. It focuses on support and development of critical projects of students reflecting social environment.

She is a co-founder of Open Design Network – a network of graphic designers freelancers, who design, invent and collaborate on this open platform. This network is composed of freelancers designers who work in a variety of flexible formations as needed depending on type of project. Its portfolio includes corporate and non-corporate projects, print and digital outputs, many of its clients are from culture environment, working on books and magazines, logos, funny and distinctive campaigns and non-traditional forms of media communication.

She is also a co-founder of non-governmental organization Open Design Studio, that addresses critical topics with visual communication tools and approaching issues from diverse social and political aspects. Its main aim is to present graphic design as an open platform for development of critical practice by organizing workshops, exhibitions, lectures, talks or individual projects.

She describes herself as open to design, experiment, collaboration and to new challenges. She is developing two areas - working on her professional portfolio and focusing on research, critical practice and socially engaged design.

12:30 – 14:30 Workshop with Katarína Balážiková