Kelly, John (2017) The Last Argosy. In: Storying the Self, 29th March 2017, Brighton. (Unpublished)

As a graphic designer, I am currently researching the archive of Edward C. Rigg. This is the story of an ordinary yet extraordinary life. Rigg’s personal archive is a rich resource of personal and detailed historical narrative, focusing on his time in the RAF just after the Second World War and documenting his profession as a jet test pilot and transport pilot during the 1950’s and 1960’s. The purpose of this research is to
further evaluate the manifestations of data shadows and visual residues contained within artefacts and archives and their potential role in the generation of written and visual narratives in creative practice. 
These visual residues are interpreted through my own auto-ethnographic investigation into the clues that form assumptions about everyday narratives that surround certain archives. Auto-ethnography can be described as a process of analysis of personal experiences that seek to understand and discuss cultural experiences.

This approach to the research process is examined through my own self-reflective narratives, where I re-tell the stories told to me by Rigg. I then translate my own personal experiences of the archival content into graphic outcomes. Graphic design methodologies and the design process have been fundamental in the production of distinct visual outcomes. The final images – on the Last Argosy website ( – are part of the narrative distilling process, which in turn creates its own visual data. The graphic design process helps to connect stories from out of the archive to a wider cultural audience through exhibition and online digital platforms.

This paper will firstly, account for the role of the graphic designer as custodian of stories and their transcription into physical design. This is a mode of storying the self through visual analysis and the production of graphic forms. Secondly, the paper will address the mixing of narratives from out of the archive: between the researcher as narrator and the archive source (in this case Edward C. Rigg). Thirdly, the paper will discuss the benefits of this project for student engagements with storytelling. For example, in the Department of Art and Communication at the University of Huddersfield, undergraduate students have used the graphic platform to explore both found items and archival materials, which are then visually translated to create new narratives. This approach examines the role of storytelling in type and image selection and its relevance within graphic design. This will be analyzed through the mechanisms of auto-ethnography. The differences in inter-generational experience are reflected in the stories and work generated by students.

Storying%20the%20self%202016%3a17-2.docx - Accepted Version

Download (142kB)


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email