Master Debaters

A provocative new print series by Brooklyn-based graphic artist Mark McGinnis

Mark McGinnis, who helped adults remember their ABCs with his irreverent 2010 Alphabet Series (“A” is for Atomic, “B” is for Blow, and “C” is for Camel Toe), is debuting a new set of colorful prints called the “Master Debaters” series at SCP’s Design Department Store exhibition as part of the London Design Festival.

“Each print is like a character in a play,” says McGinnis. “The character is represented as an icon based on their cultural stereotype, and this could be defined by their religion, nationality or political affiliation. Each character has a conversation, which is defined visually as an icon. When you combine two different characters, a new meaning is created, and a debate has begun.”

A commentary on both cultural stereotyping and the difficulties of achieving fruitful discourse, the series may also suggest something about the self-indulgence inherent in such exchanges. (Say “Master Debaters” aloud three times fast.)

Several of the characters had previously been part of McGinnis’ “Icon” series of 4.5 x 5.5-inch cards sold through the designer’s website. For the London debut of Master Debaters prints, McGinnis chose to include only human figures—dropping the moose and bear—to make the debates easier to understand. It is the artist’s hope that the prints will spark a variety of interpretations in people depending on their perspectives and backgrounds.

McGinnis’ own perspective is informed by his work as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines, which requires him to be up to date on global events. “I also just happen to love politics,” he says. “So I’m constantly reading and researching ideas that inspire me. Doing shows and producing my own series of prints or products is an outlet that allows me to explore ideas outside the confines of traditional illustration.”

The Master Debaters prints are on display in SCP from 14-23 September 2012, alongside new work by designers Donna Wilson, Bitossi and Makers and Brothers.

Each 18×24-inch Master Debaters print is screen printed by McGinnis himself. The prints will be available for purchase at The Future Perfect. Sticker sets of the speech bubbles, which allow everyone to take part in the debate, will also be on sale at the stores as well as through McGinnis’ website.