Graphic Design Project Manager
at the CNAP
Portrait of Véronique Marrier
Véronique Marrier, project manager for graphic design at the National Center for Visual Arts (CNAP), has told Made in Town about her work, her views on French graphic design and its processes. After graduating in litterature in Bordeaux, Véronique Marrier opened in 1996 the first gallery to exhibit graphic design in France. She then moved to Paris in 2000 and worked for several organizations dedicated to graphic design such as the Chaumont Poster Festival or the Graphic Design month at Echirolles. She then worked with Marsha Emanuel on the Graphisme en France publication by the Ministry of Culture, before entering the CNAP in 2008 to become the project manager in charge of graphic design.
Pascal Gautrand: Could you describe what exactly is your graphic design assignment at the CNAP?
Véronique Marrier: Our action is plural at every level of graphic design. It is an art applied with extra soul which stands firmly in the realm of art.
One of the missions of the CNAP is to focus on acquisition of works in the field of photography, visual arts, as well as in decorative arts. There were already other institutions collecting graphic design: the BNF through legal deposit, Chaumont with their poster festival. And the CNAP already had some commissioned objects in its funds such as the National Center of Dance sign created by Pierre Di Sciullo.
It was therefore relevant to find an educational way to bring graphic design in the center funds. We then chose to focus on the process reflecting the collaboration between a designer and a client, because on the long run it very often produces interesting results.
At the first committee in 2010, we acquired Logorama a short animated film which received an Oscar and a Cesar along with the script and 3D preparatory drawings. We have also acquired all the work of Etienne Robial for Canal+, and also Peter Knapp's pre-published drafts of Elle magazine dating from the late 60-70.
PG: The foundation of the graphic arts department at the CNAP is quite new. How can you explain this late interest for graphic design?
VM: In France, we tend to not look at these graphic objects as art pieces. Through the CNAP, they finally fall in national public collections and are considered in another way. The recognition of graphic design as artwork has arrived late and needed the reach of a certain maturity, a bit like with photography a few decades ago. Posters for example, iconic graphic element, were not necessarily designed to be kept.
Books last longer, but people were more interested in their content than in their shape. There has been great designers and major publishers like Pierre Faucheux or Massin who carried out all the great book collections that are still well known: the Folio, the Livre de Poche. They are rediscovered today.
A very important work has been done in schools, where graphic design students were asked to research on special topics and thus delve into the archives for some inaccessible works. With the democratization of graphics linked to the computers and software development, people lose the impression that this is a real job. Viewing files on a digital tablet is great, but it's also interesting to look at a book as an object, in all its dimensions: with its cover, its edges and back cover, and even with the remaining smell of ink.
PG: You have also acquired the collaborative work between Philippe Milllot and Cent Pages editions. How did this choice happpen?
VM: We have wished to acquire the complete work, the books but also the intermediate items which really allow us to show the whole process: flat cover, inside untrimmed paperblock, gilding irons. When you lay these objects next to each other, you immediately understand the manufacturing of a book works. We have also acquired notebooks in which Philippe Millot can think ahead his projects. I will draw a parallel with Peter Knapp in their work process. By this wonderful draft, there is the entire evolution of the book emerging. We are the witnesses of it through all these acquisition elements.
PG: Beyond the dialog between the client and the graphic designer, how do you value the other works related to book production?
VM: To valorize production is not our primary purpose, but obviously without a printer, without silkscreen, a poster can not exist. In the documents carried out at CNAP such as activity reports or greeting cards, we always mention the printer, the typeface used, the choice of paper. Designers are not people who can work alone, they are always collaborating with people from the whole graphic chain: papermakers, image retouchers, photographers, art directors or web developers. When we acquired irons brown, as was the case with Philippe Millot and Cent Pages editions, they were regarded as tools, designed in a particular aim. These objects interest us because they reflect the process of graphic design and its many different related works.
PG: To conclude, do you, personally, have any manual practise?
VM: I'm not good at making things! But I love to cook. All good and beautiful things interest me in general. What I like is just to support people who have a unique practical to valorize.
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