Designers and artists are supposed to abhor clichés, but you wouldn’t guess that from the work on show at many art school graduate shows. Taking a swipe at this is a free iPhone/iPad app and website created by UWE Bristol-based design student Pascal Raabe and new graduate Barnaby Norwood.

Drawing on the business meeting game of bullshit bingo, the Cliché Spotting app is designed to be used as you pootle round graduate shows, ticking off Social Change and Moustaches as you go. Aside from being for your own amusement, the app can log your results back to the Cliché Spotting website, providing a running total by institute and cliché (currently being won by the University of Dundee and video installations). It’s wonderfully simple to use, but this hides a lot of code behind it.

We sat down with Barnaby and Pascal to find out more:

DA: Where did the concept for Cliché Spotting come from?

Barnaby: When you've spent three-to-four years at design school, it's hard to avoid noticing some common patterns. We saw a lot of exhibitions and shows, and whenever we spot the poster pose, lasercut letters, embossed greyboard and so on, we just nod at each other, take a deep breath and think "there must be an app for that."

Pascal: The working title was 'Cliché Bingo'. The idea was to tick off some clichés on a bingo card and see who can get a bingo first. But then we thought it would be interesting to compare different institutions and see how other art and design schools score. That's how the cliché ranking came about.


Pascal (left) and Barnaby (right) demonstrate how to use the app in the face of ampersands.

DA: Is this your first app?

Pascal: Yes, this is our first app. It was just an experiment really, a learning experience. We're curious and always want to expand our skillset.

Initially we thought it would be just a list with checkboxes, which the user ticks and then submits the result -- that can't be difficult to achieve. However, [app programming] turned out to have a very steep learning curve. We had to tackle a lot of problems in a field that we knew nothing about: getting the scrolling right; what happens when you rotate the phone; does the layout break on the larger iPad screen; how can we tackle performance problems; how do we make it shareable; how are the results displayed; and so forth.