Sarah Verzele is the person in charge of the relationship with the designers, amongst other things, at the Art Centre Buda in Kortrijk, Belgium. Buda is a workplace, a presentation platform and an art cinema. Each year Buda welcomes over 150 artists or some 45 companies who live and work in Kortrijk temporarily. The performances that are (partly) made at Art Centre Buda can be seen on many European venues. Buda organizes or is part of multiple festivals and is an art cinema with a daily programme of non-commercial quality films in three auditoriums.
Design in freedom, and trust
When Sarah arrived in the institution eight years ago, the two graphic designers, freelancers, Michaël Bussaer and Jef Cuypers, were already working for Buda. Sarah is not sure, but they probably won a competition more than ten years ago. She is really attached to the idea of not changing of designers. The identity of Buda is now heavily linked to the work of these two designers. She doesn’t like competition and doesn’t want to change designers. That long relationship is important. It’s probably linked to the fact that her husband is also a graphic designer…
“I really feel the difference when I have to deal with the graphic design of the festival we co-organize with five other institutions as partners. Then you also feel a gap between art centers, like us, and cultural centers. It’s a negotiation. And I really see the difference with other designers who have to face a committee!”
At Buda, she doesn’t give rules to Michaël and Jef. They have a lot of freedom. She gives them the context, the content, elements from the performances and most importantly the audience she wants to reach. Because at Buda, there is a local audience and an art audience which is not local. It’s really a split and this mix is working, but it needs two different designs. They will not make mainstream design for the local audience but they’d rather design something a bit more clear, less edgy, a bit more playful maybe. This split of communication works well in print but it’s more difficult on the website. “How to integrate the little graphic twists that I like but are too much for part of our audience? Currently, we choose to be quite plain.”
“Designers have a lot of freedom. For me, it’s really important. Sometimes, they start from a small detail of the content we’ve provided. Most of the time it’s working quite well, easily. We are quite lucky with them! Nevertheless it does still happen sometimes that some proposals doen’t feel right. Then the designers ask ‘what do you want, then?’ And that is not an easy question to answer! Sometimes we ask them to restart. But most of the times, we find our way in the middle between what the designers have proposed and where we pushed them. Of course, some things a subjectives like the taste of colors. I don’t like purple, and they continue to put purple sometimes, ‘les goûts et les couleurs’… But this autonomy is also good for initiatives. For example, we make a program for our cinema activities and from time to time, they tell us ‘let’s change it!’ Sometimes it’s me who want some change. And they come with great ideas, not only on regular promotional supports. It could look like an ideal situation but lots of people dislike our graphic identity also among the young people. But it’s ok, we can deal with that. Most of the time, our real limitation is the budget. Simply. We want to do that and that, and non-usual stuff. Then we are forced to go back to less fancy.”