Recently published article about researching graphic designers using performative methods

Abstract for Re-performing Design: using dramaturgy to uncover graphic designers’ perceptions of stakeholders

Graphic design, as a specific research discipline, has been largely underrepresented in academia, with the literature suggesting this is partially due to difficulties in researching its professional practitioners. Acknowledging such hurdles, this article discusses an experimental study that used dramaturgy as a defamiliarising method for uncovering professional graphic designers’ perceptions of stakeholders. The study collected graphic designer narratives from online forums as well as dramaturgically informed interviews with professional practitioners. The graphic designers’ narratives were converted into a script and used to motivate a troupe of trained actors, who re-performed the narratives during a series of performance workshops. The article argues that this use of trained actors as ‘proxy designers’ created a refractive form of defamiliarisation, allowing previously obfuscated narratives about graphic designers’ perceptions of stakeholders to emerge. Presenting the study as a prototype to inform future research into graphic design and other elusive creative practices, the article also cautions that the amount of defamiliarisation used must be evaluated against the desired outcomes.

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