The publication Unclear Identity brings the first comprehensive view of the development of graphic design after 1989 in Slovakia. From the perspective of four generational groups of graduates (between 1989-2012) from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, it describes professionalisation of the field in the institution and its self-definition within designers. The publication is the result of four-year doctoral research.
It responds to the lack of literature that would deal with the Eastern view of the development of design and its specifics in our locality. If we look at the theory and history of graphic design, Anglo-American authors, who reflect the design of the Western world, predominate among the books. At the same time, the graphic design in the Slovakia has undergone turbulent changes over the last 30 years of state independence (the onset of capitalism, democracy, etc.) and has had to catch up (in its professionalisation and cultural awareness) with what has developed in other countries for decades.
Therefore, the first part of the book deals mainly with the description of the chronological development since the changes in the field at school in the 90s, dealing with the commercialisation of applied graphics, the advent of new market technologies and the lack of cultural background. It is defined how these phenomena are reflected by the graduates themselves - how they react to them by defining their own production, local activism, style and manifestos.
In the second part, the findings are further confronted. This part discusses the main theses, which says that graphic designers create alternative design and look for alternative values to market production, either in terms of visuals or values that turn away from the mere conception of design for profit.
This section critically reconsiders the view of design theory through its formal tendencies but, on the contrary, takes into account the "invisible" aspects of design such as the values it conveys or the relationships between the designer, client, project, segment, technology and respondent.
Here is worked more with the definition of designers as a certain cultural group that demonstrates its own professional values and beliefs. The book thus provides answers to what is characteristic for this group (author's design, inclination to cultural projects) and why it happened. Finally, it presents new directions in which the creation and reflection of design should pay more attention, I quote:
“The author's discourse would benefit from focusing more on ties with society and opening up to more social themes in Slovakia not only through artistic and cultural optics but also from the point of view of the real users, production and market or ecology (ie new values). This alternative discourse and creative power can thus contribute to the search for alternatives to far wider and more open interests of other groups of people as well.”author of the text: Anna Ulahelová