A celebration of rejection

by Kitty Drake in October 2019
Art & design

ICBQ collects the “unseen unused and rejected work of graphic designers”. In a world where most of us try desperately to hide our professional (and personal) rejections, it feels quite wild to read that line splashed across the cover of a magazine. Launched in 2018 by students at Falmouth University, the magazine has three types of content: “unused work”; “unused photography”; and brief, first-person accounts of designer’s first experiences with rejection. The magazine is at once a showcase of surprisingly excellent work, and a kind of anatomy of failure. The opening editorial begins by explaining the sting: “Apparently rejection activates the same part of the brain as physical pain, so if you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut after a creative presentation then it’s because you basically have been.”

The nice thing about ICBQ is that it’s really a celebration of rejection. One double spread has this matter-of-fact line blown up large, like a centrefold: “Not every project that crosses your desk is going to be an award-winner”. Work from more established designers sits alongside that from students, and even when you can see why it might not have been taken on elsewhere it’s interesting in that you can sense the shape of what its creator was trying to achieve. Towards the end, there’s a photographic series of crowds, part of a project exploring the strangeness of loneliness in big cities, when you are in such close physical proximity to other people all the time. The photographs are somehow more interesting for not completely conveying that loneliness; looking at them in this context they are coloured, suggestively, by their “failed” attempt. In this magazine, rejection has a creative force all its own.


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