Interview with Richard Hollis, Eye 59, Spring 2006
'Designer, teacher and author Richard Hollis became fascinated by Swiss modernism while the movement was still fresh and largely unknown in Britain; many of his typographic habits defy the dogma of the style's later period. Influenced by concrete poetry, Hollis tends to break lines 'for sense' rather than neurotic neatness, and he has often made dynamic juxtapositions of unjustified and centred texts on the same plane. Hollis is arguably better known as a writer. Graphic Design – a Concise History (1994) demonstrates Hollis' skill in dismantling work element-by-element – see his analyses of posters by Kauffer and Tschichold. It is very difficult to get Hollis to talk about himself in isolation – a fact which echoes his belief in what he terms the 'social process' between client, designer and recipient, with the designer cast as means, not end.'
'Designers might argue: I'm the expert; why should I let a client who is quite possibly visually illiterate tell me how to do my job?'
RH: 'It's more like a consultation with a doctor, who has the knowledge and expertise, and the patient, who explains what the symptoms are, and later says whether the prescribed treatment is working. The client shouldn't express any expertise in design – they should only express an understanding of what they want to get across. In conversation the designer can help them understand what they’re saying.'
'In some cases marketing teams are determining how things should look before the designer is involved.'
'This is where it's gradually changed. Marketing people have an idée fixe about what they think is marketable, and that's so often proved to be completely wrong. They don't understand that other people have expertise. One really needs a long-term relationship with a client before they trust the designer. Competitive tendering is one thing which has destroyed the notion of a long-term relationship: people switch advertising agencies all the time.'