It’s not you, it’s me! Lucienne Roberts exhibits her break-up letter to graphic design

It’s not you, it’s me: the likelihood is, you’ve either said it yourself or been on the receiving end. Either way, the phrase usually involves two lovers. For Lucienne Roberts, it’s not being directed at another person, but instead her practice. Part critique, part provocation, and part celebration of graphic design and what it can do, Perhaps it’s not you, it’s me is her new show at A–Z space in Berlin.
However, Roberts stresses that this practice comes with responsibility. She asks if it is actually possible to make enough money to live as a graphic designer without ‘selling out,’ for example. “If the only way to do ethically ‘good’ work is to subsidise it by doing ‘bad’, surely that doesn’t work. Then there’s our relationship with climate change… that the system that supports us is the problem.”
Roberts doesn’t just make any work: the designer is committed to making accessible work with a socially and environmentally aware agenda. She has, since the beginning of her practice, been an ally to accessible, engaging graphic design and she specialises in design for the voluntary, charity and arts sectors. “I’ve always been interested in the ethics around what we do and right now it feels all the more pressing to evaluate graphic design from this perspective,” she tells us. “My letter of course says what I absolutely know to be true, that the communication of messages, ideas, dreams is hugely important – making graphic design an important act.”
Roberts’s show aims to take visitors on an intensely personal journey from early utopian zeal to dystopian dilemma, and back again. “I hope visitors laugh and then perhaps cry… or at least mull on a few troubling things with open hearts and minds,” explains the designer and co-founder of GraphicDesign&. “My love letter to Graphic Design,” she continues, “uses all the old cliches – ‘I still love you but…’ – because that’s how I feel. I don’t want to break up, but big change is clearly necessary and I don’t know what the implications of that might be.”