Research: 1.1 Ten manifestos

The purpose of this research task was to curate and compile a top 10 list of art and design manifestos, together with the reasons for selecting them, in order to shape and inform a set of personal outcomes.

Key words from the brief:

  • Actively consider your selection criteria and how you put them together to communicate your intended message clearly
  • Start to form the foundations for your own manifesto as you explore or challenge your own position

Selection criteria

I used links provided in the coursework and a general internet search to find manifestos, mostly related to design in some way.

My selection criteria were pretty loose and included approaches, topics, statements and intentions that resonate with me in some way. Positive or negative.

This included a certain amount of curation, with my initial list being replaced with more interesting selections as the research progressed.

Ten manifestos

1. The Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto consists of four short statements that revolutionised the way that work (predominantly software development), is created. Along with the 12 principles, it has radically transformed the way that individuals and companies operate, delivering value into the hands of their customers more quickly and effectively.

Who is the target audience?

Initially focused on software engineers, but now the audience is anybody involved in delivering change in the widest sense of the meaning.

Why I selected this manifesto?

Many of the values, techniques and approaches that underpin agile are fundamental to my own ways of working. The four statements and principles are extremely simple to understand.

2. Weak messages create bad situations

David Shrigley uses humour, irony, and hand drawn lettering to propose his manifesto for a better society. The illustration and layout is matched by the copy.

Who is the target audience?

Guardian readers, people involved in the creative arts.

Why I selected this manifesto?

It’s simple, memorable and brilliant.

Fig 1 – Weak Messages Create Bad Situations (2016)

3. Riot Grrrl Manifesto

Riot Grrrl Manifesto was written by Kathleen Hanna for 1991’s Bikini Kill Zine 2 (Hanna, 1991).

Bikini Kill is an American punk rock band formed in Olympia, Washington, in October 1990. They pioneered the riot grrrl movement (an underground feminist punk movement), with feminist lyrics and fiery performances.

Fig 2 – Bikini Kill #2: girl power (1991)

Who is the target audience?

Young women

Why I selected this manifesto?

It’s short, sharp, articulate and angry. The photocopied zine visual style perfectly matches the message.

4. The awesomeness manifesto

The awesomeness manifesto was written by Umair Haque in 2009.

Who is the target audience?

Product managers, business leaders, project managers, product owners, software engineers, designers of all flavours. Anyone involved in delivering value to a customer.

Why I selected this manifesto?

It outlines an approach to making products where real and lasting value, (awesomeness) supersedes the tired and dishevelled notion of innovation. Haque’s definition of ‘awesomeness’ sits perfectly alongside the Agile Manifesto and Design Thinking principles.

5. Urban sketchers manifesto

Reportage has been recognised as a genre since Franklin McMahon was illustrating court proceedings in 1950s Mississippi.

Urban sketching was a term invented in 2012 to encompass the growing interest in artists recording their surroundings. During the last decade this has become a growing movement with many groups meeting and drawing together across the globe.

Urban sketching has become a useful term to describe a particular genre of drawing.

Who are the target audience?

Artists, sketchers, anyone interested in getting involved in t he practice.

Why I selected this manifesto?

The Urban Sketchers Manifesto is very simple, just eight bullet points, that succinctly describe what urban sketching is and what it isn’t.

6. The Dada manifesto

There were serval Dada manifestos. The most well known ones written by Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara.

Both manifestos need to be understood within the historical context of the time. Ball wrote his manifesto in 1916 and Tzara two years later in 1918. They lived in neutral Switzerland, the First World War was raging and the Dada movement was a reaction to the perceived causes of the war; the bourgeoisie and nationalism.

‘These creatives looked for alternative modes of social functioning that would disengage them from the unsavory reality of the times, and which would produce a new social ordering more aligned with their desires and wishes.’ (Widewalls, 2022)

During that period a number of avant garde art movements appeared that saw the world differently as a reaction to what had gone before. These included Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism and Constructivism, and all influenced the Dadaists.

Who were the target audience?

The purpose of the movement was to upset bourgeoisie sensibilities and ask challenging questions about the role and purpose of the arts. So the audience were people and institutions connected to, or involved with the arts.

Why I selected this manifesto?

Rather than talk about what Dada is or means the manifestos demonstrates it through a direct experience.

7. Fluxus Manifesto

Fluxus was conceived as a quarterly magazine in 1961, written, edited and published by George Maciunas. Fluxus 1 was finally published in 1964, and the original idea to publish a series of essays morphed over the two years into a series of printed artworks and scores.

The Fluxus Manifesto sets out the aims of Fluxus and link to some of the radical ideas at the time, echoing closely some of the objectives of the Dadaist movement.

The manifesto consists of three parts, with a dictionary definition of flux, and a statement written by Maciunas.

Who were the target audience?

The same type of audience as the Dada Manifesto. People and institutions connected to, or involved with the arts.

Why I selected this manifesto?

The link with the Dada Manifesto as a radical revolutionary reaction to the art of the period is interesting, as is the way the movement spread through artists, musicians, dancers and performers. It touched a nerve that enabled a new anti art movement to come into being.

Fig 3 – Fluxus Manifesto (1963)

8. How to be idle – the manifesto

A statement on the Idler website describes what it is: ‘Idler is a company devoted to helping people to lead more fulfilled lives.’ (Idler, 2022)

Initially started in 1993 by  journalist Tom Hodgkinson and designer and writer Gavin Pretor-Pinney as a magazine, it has grown into a brand that includes events, courses and other publications.

Who are the target audience?

Guardian readers, people generally on the mainstream left of British political opinion.

Why I selected this manifesto?

It’s a short, pithy, humorous and slightly subversive statement that encapsulates the Idler brand. Easy to consume and legible even at a small size.

The typography and layout feel like a 1950’s Pelican Classic paperback giving it a retro authenticity that works alongside the copywriting and general tone of voice.

Fig 4 – How to be Idle The Manifesto

9. Graphic Witness

Sue Coe describes herself as ‘a keen observer, a ‘graphic witness’ to realities more often overlooked or avoided’. (Coe, 2022)

Who is the target audience?

People that either want to work with or buy prints from the artist.

Why I selected this manifesto?

I like Cole’s artist statement. Short, clear and concise.

10. Circularity: Guiding the Future of Design

A design manifesto published and commissioned by Nike, created as a collaboration between Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and with inspiration from Global Fashion Agenda, and insights/concepts from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

It’s published on a single webpage subtly branded Nike.

It plays very much into concerns about protecting the environment and designing for sustainability.

Who’s the audience?

I think this has a dual function- it would be interesting to know which part of Nike funded the project; Marketing or Corporate and Social Responsibility.

The audience could be outward focused: the broader fashion industry and consumers, or inward focused: their own staff and design community. In both cases, as well as providing a considered set of design principles, Nike are also demonstrating their corporate and social responsibility credentials

Fig 5 – A diagram explaining Nike Circularity

Why I selected this manifesto?

This is an example of how a large global corporation are using manifesto format as a marketing and communication tool.



Coe, Sue (2022) Who is Sue Coe and why should I buy her prints? At: (Accessed: 08/08/22)

Haque, Umair (2009) The Awesomeness Manifesto At: (Accessed: 09/08/22)

Idler About At: (Accessed: 09/08/22)

Widewalls, DADA Manifesto Explained – Hugo Ball versus Tristan Tzara At: (Accessed: 08/08/22)

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Shrigley, David (2016) Weak Messages Create Bad Situations At: (Accessed: 09/08/22)

Figure 2 – (1991) Bikini Kill #2: girl power (Self-published zine] At: (Accessed: 09/08/22)

Fig 3 – Maciunas, George (1963) Fluxus Manifesto At: (Accessed: 08/08/22)

Fig 4 – Idler (2022) How to be Idle The Manifesto At: (Accessed: 08/08/22)

Figure 5 – Nike A diagram explaining Nike Circularity At: (Accessed: 09/08/22)

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