A move that Director Chris McAuliffe says recognises “just how much our investment in graphic design is becoming a daily issue for us.” McAuliffe says new designer Kate Scott will have a challenge ahead – to look to the future with strategic planning and to address the day-to-day communication tasks at the Potter. According to McAuliffe, museums are becoming ensembles of experiences that include art, education, recreation, dining, shopping and leisure. And the Potter is no exception.
As its prominent position on Swanston Street and its street front cafe suggests, it is not just a university art museum but a cultural entity that functions as an interface between the university and the wider public.
With its audiences expanding and diversifying and with the move to IT, the Potter is constantly looking to design for more effective ways to enhance its public profile and product delivery.
Scott, previously of Emery Vincent Design, is working with Potter staff to identify strategies for effective communication that makes the museum more outreaching and accessible.
“The Potter already has a very strong visual identity (logo, graphic elements, typography, style guide etc) designed by EVD. Working in-house I can push and extend its potential to communicate on a number of levels. As you would expect much of my work entails exhibition catalogues, invitations, brochures and publicity for events, signage information, programs and membership.”
But as Scott notes, the Potter’s activities are wide ranging and include the conservation, housing and maintaining of the university’s collection, public programs, talks, seminars, music events, and support for teaching and research.
“I am becoming conscious of how much being part of the university affects strategy and how we target audiences,” she says. Within the university alone there are many different interest groups ranging from students, lecturers and researchers, to the faculties with which the Potter has links.
“The challenge is to devise specific communication items that address the differences between these local audiences and between our public audiences. New initiatives include the re-engineering and re-design of the website to provide greater access to the collection and facilities, and the development of on-line modes of information delivery.
“We are having to respond to the postmodern audience’s love of information on demand,” McAuliffe explains.
“Arts Victoria’s recent survey of Arts IT use by arts audiences shows that email is the key, then internet. The internet is primarily used to identify an event, what’s on, cost and how to get there and then research. What you have to do in terms of electronic delivery
is make sure people can find you, who you are and what you have got on and how they can visit.
“Print is no longer going to be the primary medium for a developing constituency. We are already using pdf delivery for some information and I suspect it will replace the room brochure and the catalogue.
"In the foreseeable future digital output technology will be of sufficient quality that we will be able to print brochures on demand in-house as well as put them on the web to download and email on request.
“With increasing postage costs, invitations and publicity will be email based. In this quickly changing environment our communication is going to be different and as we become more aware of how we deliver to our different audiences, design will become increasingly an important planning strategy.”
The challenge, as Scott sees it, is “how to make the design innovative and distinctive within the current and changing parameters of the digital environment.”