Information is Currency Up Creatives  
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  Information is Currency  
A collection of works from leading designers, illustrators and artists responding
to themes generated by the recent WikiLeaks cable releases and subsequent fallouts
from such.

Produced by: UP^ & Chimera Production
Curated by: Jamie Balliu @ UP^ & Jeff Knowles

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The Book Club
  The Book Club, Shoreditch, London

  ‘Information is the currency of democracy’. Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S President, is credited with these words, which take on ever-broader meaning in the age of the internet. This very same expression is now available to purchase online as a car bumper sticker. Perhaps even more relevant today is a further phrase that is derived from the original: ‘Information IS Currency.’ The WikiLeaks cable releases of the last year and subsequent fallouts have highlighted both the potency and currency of such information together with it’s latent value to individuals.

This exhibition and these art works, from a variety of designers, illustrators, typographers and artists, are each a unique and personal perspective on these events, cables and themes. Wider issues are explored here such as those of; information, our freedoms to publish and access it, and how we might filter exponentially available amounts of such. Some works are direct visual responses to a particular cable release, where others explore the pandoras box that has now been opened. The responses are individual to the exhibitor and the open brief is non-partisan as it remains necessary to best represent the open and somewhat democratic platform that the internet was, and may still remain, in part at least, both today and in the future.

Whilst many of the exhibitors are active in the world of fine arts, all work within the commercial design and advertising worlds; producing artwork and branding for the likes of D&AD to Rolling Stone, from the BBC to skate brands. The exhibition is sure to provide a fresh and provocative range of concepts, opinions and reactions. Further to the central themes of the exhibit, the show also acts as a catalyst for discussion and debate about the role of designers, artists and illustrators within social or political spheres.


Information as currency has proven itself such in many forms, guises and outcomes. One example is in it’s bringing down of presidents past, the word ‘Watergate’ for example, still resonates today. Social networks have become tools for democratic revolution, but conversely a tool in the trade of users’ personal data between the network providers, agencies and investors. Confidential personal information is sought by media organisations, in some cases illegally garnered, for the spoils of high readership sales. Even latent information carries currency, one that politicians and affiliated corporations value enough to ensure it remains buried. The U.S. Government sees WikiLeaks, or rather; their releasing of further sensitive information as ‘a threat’. Who owns information? The information about our government’s actions? About you and your buying habits online? And how do we define illegal versus legal information and the rightful sharing of?

Recent events have revealed that corporations and state are closely linked as seen by the recent actions of the likes of mastercard and amazon with their retractions of trading with Wikileaks under a climate of state pressure. The Cables likewise have pointed to Shell’s imbedding employees within government offices and as seen in more recent days; the many links between politicians and large media brands such as the likes of NoW. As the world of brands are drawn into politics… perhaps it too draws the creative fields, including design, along with it?

In the last months we have witnessed the expansion of the political fallout into the online world with several major online brands and credit companies cutting off their relationship to WikiLeaks and subsequently these direct portals of financial supply to them. WikiLeaks in turn uses their latent information as ‘insurance files’ to be released ‘should something happen to me or WikiLeaks’. (Assange). Anonymous hackers in support of the organisation have called for ‘…a war of data’. Wherever information lives online; in transit, user profiles, buying behavior, underground bunkers, encrypted or decrypted; it is now beyond being measured in currency, it has become today’s currency.


More on the Creative's / the Designer's Role:

Ever since Edward Bernays strategically morphed techniques of propaganda and the ideas of his uncle Freud into PR, designers have predominantly been drawn to the commercial sector as an outlet for creativity. Like artists in Venice and Rome back in the ‘Renaissance’ day, designers are drawn to the financial centers, powers and platforms that will best reward them economically and with visibility. Today, instead of the church, merchant families or state, we have the brands, the corporations to fund our work and decorate our awards ceremonies. But should designers and advertising creatives be engaged directly in politics and social issues? If so, how?

Recent events have revealed that corporations and state are closely linked as seen by the recent actions of the likes of mastercard and amazon with their retractions of trading with Wikileaks under a climate of state pressure. Cables likewise have pointed to Shell’s imbedding employees within government offices. As the world of brands are drawn into politics… perhaps it too draws the creative fields, including design, along with it?

Whatever ones’ personal opinion of WikiLeaks, it has brought to the surface issues of freedom of speech, privacy, transparency and power. The show here opens up a dialogue with each other within the creative industry and furthers the debate of the creative’s role to play both now and in the future. Often, or everyday we are handed briefs requesting us to reach a particular market and tap into their desires using our creative noses and skills. This here represents a challenge to a much more difficult terrain, one that investigates our relationship to society and requires us to look within to find our own opinions and positions.



Barnbrook is one of the most well-known creative studios in Britain. Their team of designers specialise in producing innovative books, corporate identities, CD covers, custom fonts, websites and magazines. Over the years Barnbrook have worked and won many awards working for clients such as the BBC and Grey Advertising alongside self-initiated projects. Their contribution to graphic design was recognised by a major exhibition at the Design Museum, London in 2007.

Jeff Knowles is the co founder of the graphic design studio Planning Unit whose clients include Twin Magazine and PayneShurvell, as well as commissions for Computer Arts and Wired magazine US. He has a series of art prints called Synthesis on, which was featured in Creative Review’s Monograph, he also has a series of prints on the sister site In 2010 his art piece Anarchy of the Mind was exhibited at Neville Brody’s Anti-deign festival.

Jamie Balliu is a designer-director for print and motion campaigns/brands and is founder of the collective UP^. He has acted as a creative director for Bauer-Channel 4’s music channel brands and produced work for clients as diverse as Kerrang!, The National Gallery, Mercury-Universal, and the BBC. His work has featured in several creative publications such as Shots and Creative Review and has collected multiple creative awards such as the Promax International Gold.

Erkut Terliksiz is a Turkish designer and artist based in Istanbul. His work has featured in several exhibitions worldwide, including the most recent: “Confessions of Dangerous Minds” at the Saatchi Gallery earlier this year. His work has toured the world and has also been featured in a range of magazines and books such as Pictoplasma Berlin.

We Buy Your Kids are established exhibiting artists as well as commercial illustrators. They have had solo exhibitions in galleries like Monster Children and MTV Galleries. Their exhibited work is often based on witchcraft, mishaps, misdemeanors, and voodoo. They have illustrated and designed work for brands including Adidas, Qantas, Urban Outfitters and EMI.

Suki Dhanda London based photographer Suki Dhanda has been shooting professionally for over 10 years. As one of The Observer’s main portrait photographer’s she has shot countless celebrities, musicians, politicians and sports personalities. Her editorial commissions are regularly published in leading magazines and press nationally and internationally. Reportage is another strong components of Suki’s work and she has shot stories in many countries including coffee farmers in Rwanda, tea workers in China, farmer’s in India and fair trade oil in Palestine. Her personal projects concentrate on people in their environments and ethnicity and she has exhibited with the British Council, Platform for Art and Photographer’s Gallery.

Domenico Bartolo is an international designer director & co-founder of 21-19, a design and communications agency, based in Melbourne, Australia. In his 15 years as a Designer Director he has focused on moving image design, the art of brand identity in motion.

David Shillinglaw graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2002 and has since exhibited in galleries across the globe. In October 2010 Shillinglaw’s first published book, ‘Colourful Condition’, was launched at Agnes b Headquarters in Covent Garden. Shillinglaw’s work moves between street and studio, from small hand made books, to paintings on canvas, and large scale wall murals.

Apropos began in North London by Gareth Wild. He works across graphic design, art direction and cross-media design, including advertising and brand identity. His clients have included Reebok and LOVE FiLM. Gareth has exhibited at The London Design Festival, The Photographer’s Gallery and the Anti-Design Festival.

Marco Ammannati is a designer and director working in multiple disciplines. In 2004 Marco branched out into motion design freelancing for MTV and specializing in the broadcast industry within the following years, directing and animating for broadcast using mixed media and live action for BBC, Channel4 and Discovery amongst others. In the process he has picked up broadcast design awards such as Promax Gold.

10 Collective is a group of ten independent female graphic designers. Their specialisms take them across identity, typography and editorial design. Their debut exhibition ‘10 Girls Doing It’ earnt them a place in Design Week’s Hot 50 list. More recently the Collective have won the People’s Choice Award at the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn and Design Week sponsored 24hr Inclusive Design Challenge.

OWNI is a collaborative media platform focused on the future of journalism, society, tech and digital news sourced from an alliance of almost 1,000 influential bloggers. Open source and published under a creative commons license, OWNI is a pioneer in augmented and data-journalism. Olivier Tesquet, is a journalist at He is the author of “WikiLeaks: A True Account”, an ebook being published on June 6th in French, English and Arabic. Specialized in information warfare and Internet issues, he has been following the organization since 2008. He also collaborates with other French media outlets such as, Technikart and Télérama.
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Matteo Rosso is a graphic designer based in London, where he works for a leading environmental design and information graphics consultancy. He worked in Italy, amongst others, for Electa, Triennale di Milano, and in the UK for the V&A, Tate, Whitechapel Gallery and Virgin Atlantic.