• Abc
  • Abc_detail
  • Constitution2
  • Constitution
  • Tim_brown
  • Tim_brown_detail
  • Obey
  • Graph
Graphic Design

Zachary Gibson

Posted by Alex Bec,

The idea of working at Studio Number One, the design studio headed by by Shepard Fairey is probably a dream for tons of West Coast students. Zach Gibson is a graduate from Philadelphia, who moved to L.A and made the dream a reality before heading back to school to start a masters. Obviously not one to be daunted by a bit of hard graft, the results are there for all to see and we were keen to catch up with him before everyone else did too.

Hey Zach, really nice, varied selection of work you’ve got… Can you tell us a little bit about you and your work in general?

In 2006 I received a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and I’m currently in my second semester of the MFA Design program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

After my undergraduate studies and a brief internship at MTV, I packed up and moved to the opposite side of the country, to Los Angeles, where I lived in my brother’s walk-in closet for a few months. I eventually landed a full-time job at Studio Number One, the design agency founded by Shepard Fairey. This was an ideal place for me to learn and grow as a designer, really a dream job. The studio consists of a handful of super talented designers and artists, and I gained a lot from working with everyone there. In the three years I worked at the studio I earned opportunities to art direct, design, and initiate a few excellent projects. In August 2009, I left to head back to school.

It’s tough for me to discuss my work in a general sense, because there are different themes, or feelings, or goals, or points of focus, or clients that I’ve aimed to please in the various aspects. I like to keep these areas separate, so at any dull moment I have a place to pick up where I left off.

Generally, there is a tangible characteristic in the images I create, and achieving this tactile feel comes from my design process; creating letters out of junk mail, cut paper, play-doh, or sponges for Nothing Fancy Volumes dot com; putting up a thousand post-it notes for a Tim Brown lecture; building the set for the IMAGINE postcard; printing out the California Constitution on a single sheet of paper; or just cutting up sheets of grid paper and finding interesting cross-sections and relationships when you put them together. It’s the details that come from using actual objects that make people pause for a moment and look at things a little closer. In my drawings and investigations, I’m interested in exploring intimacy and awkwardness, and finding a sense of place.

Your latest project on the constitution looks interesting, what’s it all about?

This was something I did for a Contemporary Issues course I’m taking right now with Karen Fiss, and something I’ve recently found great interest in. Our class focuses on what many Californians consider to be the contemporary issue right now in our state: an overly complicated, excessively amended state constitution. Specifically, the course will focus on a ballot initiative being considered, that challenges our current system of democracy. If your interested you can find out more at www.californiansfordemocracy.com (a website that aesthetically highlights the current relationship between politics and design).

That being said, I’ve just done a simple, non-partisan experiment comparing the constitutions that govern our country and our state. The United States Constitution, when set in Times New Roman at 8 points on paper 8.5 inches wide, the length of the full text is about 6 feet. The California Constitution is about 45 feet long. According to Wikipedia, the California Constitution is the third longest in the world, behind Alabama and India.

If there is a California Constitutional Convention on the horizon, I am curious to see if designers will be part of the redesign, or if we will leave this up to the same policy makers, politicians, and suits that got us into this mess in the first place.

What’s next for Zach?

I have a ton of little things here and there that I’m working on. In April, I am leading collaborative project with a few artists, designers and strangers at a Levi’s pop-up shop, thanks to Adam Katz. Maybe a trip to Egypt this summer. I’m getting married next summer. Nothing Fancy Volume v10? Considering a thesis project. An RRR submission for Scott Massey. Vain is Awesome 2. I am student-teaching a design class and I’m planning an image making workshop with the students. I’m working on a publication about strange incidents in a local SF park. Screen printing some posters. Collecting succulents. Riding my bike. Paying rent with student loans. Reading, writing, thinking and making.

Ab-300

Posted by Alex Bec

Alex is one of the directors of It’s Nice That who now oversees our sister creative agency INT Works. For several years he oversaw the Monday Morning Music Video feature until it came to an end in 2014.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    My colleague Liv Siddall memorably ranted about al fresco cinemas a few weeks back but the FILM4 Summer Screen at Somerset House is undoubtedly one of the best, combining excellent programme curation with genuinely stunning surroundings. It might even escape the Siddall wrath.

  2. List

    I’ve got a confession to make; I’ve posted quite a few people recently that I discovered on the website of a Dutch Risograph studio called Vinex Pers. Viktor Hachmang created their identity and they count some of my favourite illustrators as clients. Their website is packed full of exciting work from fantastic creative talents and I’d like to show you just one more.

  3. List

    In the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at why Shillington College was founded to offer a different kind of graphic design education and heard from some of the teachers at Shillington campuses around the world about how they make this happen in practice.

  4. List

    It’s been a couple of years since we last featured Melbourne-based studio A Friend of Mine so the launch of their brand new website was the perfect chance to celebrate their talents again. Suzy Tuxen and her team were commissioned by new art and design fair Supergraph to create a “strong, industrial and friendly” identity and needed a graphic solution that stood on its own two feet without overshadowing the creative work featured at the event.

  5. List

    This year for the first time ever Istanbul is to be included in the Venice Architecture Biennale, and will showcase the work of five contemporary Turkish artists as curated by Murat Tabanlıoğlu. So how do you go about celebrating your country’s participation in one of the greatest celebrations of architecture? If you’re anything like graphic design studio Future Anecdotes Istanbul, you put together a glorious identity and accompanying publication to celebrate the event.

  6. List

    Marcello Velho is one of a school of graphic artists subverting the forms of internet art that we’re becoming used to seeing, and doing something completely unanticipated with them. His abstract compositions are experimental and ambiguous, but that’s exactly what makes them exciting. He’s a pretty dab hand at design too, working on magazine covers, art directing features and just generally applying his magic touch wherever it’s needed. It’s only a matter of time until a global fashion brand with a wildly cool following happens upon his work and immediately has him applying his learned eye to look books, textile design and event invitations. Just for the record though, we got here first, yeah?

  7. List

    Behold! Dutch illustrator and designer Julian Sirre has a portfolio packed to the gunnels with beautiful futuristic design. His posters and prints take inspiration from 1980s sci-fi, Japanese printmaking and superhero comics, all amalgamated into a wholly unique visual language. He’s worked for Dutch science fiction magazines, London venues and a variety of extraordinary exhibitions including a group show with Jordy Van Den Niewendijk, Viktor Hachmang and Robin van Wijk – all exceptionally cool dudes.

  8. List

    Battersea Power Station is one of my favourite buildings in London (you can add that to the list of things-you-don’t-care-about-which-I-tell-you-anyway-in-these-posts if you like). Anyway this summer it’s hosting the Everyman Cinema and east London’s Bread Collective was brought in to create the branding and hand-paint all the on-site signage. Bread has previous experience when it comes to large scale design work that packs a personality-filled punch and it’s great to see them unleash their talents on such a famous landmark. The bright and lively visuals juxtapose neatly with their industrial surroundings and there’s a consistency that ties the site together without feeling sterile.

  9. List

    My favourite thing about Paris-based design studio Twice is that they continually combine texture and colour in such a way that I’m practically banging my hands into my computer screen with wanting to hold their publications in my hands. That’s the trouble with tactility – it’s not practical – but that shouldn’t mean designers abandon it altogether in favour of a wipe-clean, stark, sterile aesthetic that makes us lose all hope in print.

  10. List

    I was lucky enough to visit Istanbul for its inaugural design biennale back in 2012 and although I was blown away by its creative scene, I didn’t come across too much graphic design. Rummaging through Studio Sarp Sozdinler’s website this week, I had the nagging feeling that I might have missed out.

  11. List

    Belgian graphic designer Broos Stoffels has it all; great poster designs, great typefaces, great Dance Organ-powered drawing machine for the creation of custom vinyl sleeves – no really! The young designer is a former student of Sint Lucas in Ghent, a institution with proven design pedigree, and has spent the last few years honing his practical and conceptual skills into a fantastically coherent body of work.

  12. List

    If you aren’t familiar with The Casual Optimist blog about publishing and book culture then it’s well worth checking out (I’ll wait). Anyway last week its author shared these amazing posters created by the leading German graphic designer Gunter Rambow for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house back in the 1970s. What’s interesting is that some of them tiptoe right up to the edge of being gimmicky, but always stay the right side of the line thanks to Gunter’s unerring image-making brilliance. I really can’t get enough of these.

  13. List

    When a studio does everything it can to get to the very root of a client’s working philosophy, it often leads to the most interesting and effective identity design. This is definitely true of Toronto-based studio Blok Design’s work for Dallas film production company Lucky 21. Created to mark the company’s new venture – “taking on the highly competitive LA market” – the identity takes into account the brand’s character, which the studio describes as “full of humour and fiercely passionate” to create a set of visuals that fall close to home.