Graphic Design Archive

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    Unless you’ve recently relocated from a teeny tiny little hut atop a snowy, sheep-covered mountain miles from the nearest village, you probably know that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is on. It’s only the world’s biggest arts festival, after all. What you might not know is how it all began. Back in 1947, when corned beef was still a dietary staple and your granny was grateful for her bread and dripping sandwiches, eight rogue theatre troops gatecrashed the Edinburgh International Festival. These unofficial performers staged shows on the outskirts of the festival, and so “the fringe” was born.

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    This identity that design studio Bleed have created for a new office building called Monier in Oslo, Norway, is heavily founded on the principles of the building itself, as well as the history of the site it has been built on. The idea for the logo is derived from the building’s three different window shapes, the studio explains, which are a key aspect of the building’s cubistic architecture.

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    With Richard Turley now utilising his skills for the betterment of MTV’s creative offering, Bloomberg Businessweek has been left in the hands of his two former proteges, Rob Vargas and Tracy Ma. Rob’s work is already pretty well known by devotees of the title, but Tracy’s is arguably the most experimental of anyone working for a global publication like Businessweek. Her use of layout and typography is arresting to the point of distraction, but is always used in a manner that serves the story first and foremost. Similarly her aesthetic choices often feel informed by a lifetime spent online, with brash colours, textures and stock imagery proliferating her spreads – which for a title that deals with the politics and economics of the digital age feels impeccably on point.

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    Fantastic work here from Lyon’s boundary-pushing designers Antoine Eckart and Francis Josserand, also know as Alles Gut. How do you say Alles Gut? Here at It’s Nice That we say it as if we’re saying “all’s good” in a funny European accent. Each to their own. Anyway, Alles Gut make the kinds of fliers, posters and small publications that we are totally into – sharp, well-considered colours and well thought-out references come together to make modern printed matter with quick-witted retro aesthetic references. Personal favourites? I’d say the posters for the HASTE parties – they really, really make you want to go to those parties.

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    Roosje Klap and Mathias Schweizer have just finished work on a pretty extraordinary piece of digital collage for Dutch literary magazine De Gids – a publication that’s been in existence since 1837. The images on display propose rooms that reference literary voices of the past like Ovid and Baiga, compositing various erotic references into surrealist dreamscapes. The pair worked on them in tandem in the manner of an exquisite corpse – building on each other’s work in stages over time – only instead of strange little bodies as the final product, we’re met with what Roosje refers to as “graphic sex cadavre-exquis!”

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    Suzanne Bakkum is a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague where she studied graphic design. She follows in an incredibly long line of talented designers to have passed through the city and already has an impressive portfolio to show for it. Her work is concerned predominantly with pattern and texture, creating typographic, abstract and geometric forms from complex arrangements tone and line.

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    When it comes to strong typographic tradition, Switzerland boasts a heritage few other countries can match. Undeterred by the pressure of the past and inspired by modern, multicultural Geneva, designer Fermin Guerrero created a typeface named after his home city.

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    I don’t know what the Italian for “Jack of all trades” is – maybe “Giacomo of all trades” if that’s not clumsily xenophobic – but Genoa based studio Artiva Design seem to fit the bill. The “About” section of their website lists more than 30 areas in which they offer their services, from user interface to book design, copywriting to video editing.

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    Dutch graphic designer Koos Breen has a portfolio that’s laden with extraordinary work. The Hague-based creative utilises unusual print techniques and 3D methods within a practice that’s highly experimental. Part graphic designer part fine artist Koos seems equally comfortable producing for for clients as he is inventing material for a personal show, but throughout it all he maintains a respect for form over function that has led to a highly aestheticised body of work in which posters, prints, textiles and 3D objects all come together to create a highly original oeuvre.

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    In the October of 2013 Braulio Amado spent (maybe) millions of dollars putting together an elaborate and comprehensive promotional video to sell himself to the graphic design community at large. He wanted commissions, he wanted collaborations, he wanted access to the megabucks – plus he shot actual bullets from his hands at the end.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Illustrator and longtime mate of ours Michael Willis is straying away from illustration and into something altogether more design-focussed. The elements at the heart of his images are the same; placing retro and contemporary influences side-by-side to create something so contemporary that it feels ahead of its time. He’s been working recently with Mood NYC, providing photographic manipulation and graphic treatment for their look book as well as helping create an overarching aesthetic for the brand, one which evades the recurring trends and repetitive styles that seem to permeate many designers’ portfolios.

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    Three years ago Milan studio Leftloft were commissioned to help iconic Italian football club Inter Milan with a ticket sales push, but the relationship developed into something much more comprehensive. Here art director Francesco Cavalli tells us how they came to lead an extensive rebranding of the whole club, from a new crest and a bespoke serif typeface to an exhaustive style guide for use across print and digital.

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    As of 6.30pm last night Airbnb looks a little classier. Having spent the past seven years growing a vast community of country-hopping collaborators, the world’s largest online accommodation marketplace has decided it’s time for a change. Gone is the awkward, dated logo that still reminds me of a bad ice cream parlour, likewise the cold, clinical blue that serves as the accent colour for all San Franciscan startups; and in its place is something entirely more exciting.

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    Massimo Vignelli was one of the most important graphic designers of his generation and his death in May affected the creative community very strongly and very immediately. The tributes poured in (some of which we included in our piece here) but for some the response to his passing would take a little longer to formulate. So it was with Colorado-based studio Berger & Föhr, who began this set of tribute posters when they first learned of his illness.

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    In our first feature on Shillington College we looked at why its founder was compelled to create a new kind of graphic design education to better prepare graduates for the working world. But how does the college pursue this aim in practical everyday terms, achieving what can take several years into other institutions in a matter of mere months? To find out we asked the people who make it happen– the teachers themselves. So we quizzed US director Holly Karlsson, Melbourne lecturer Carlos Chavez, Manchester lecturer Jeffrey Bowman and senior London lecturer Corrie Anderson. Here’s what they had to say…

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    Dutch illustrator and designer Eline Van Dam (Zeloot to her clients) belongs to the same circle of pals as Viktor Hachmang and Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, which goes some way to explaining why her work is so god damn beautiful. Although she’s about as versatile as image-makers come – her portfolio covers a variety of styles ranging from the niche to the commercial – it’s her posters that really stand out for their 1970s-inspired phychedelic iconography and bold, experimental use of colour; any colour she can get her hands on! Now we just need to work out what we can commission her for.

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    There are a couple of key points that underpin all really solid identities which, if one is removed, causes all the others to come tumbling down like marbles in a disastrous game of Kerplunk! It needs to be thorough, clear and communicative, it needs to be just as effective when pasted onto a giant billboard as it does on a tiny flyer, and it needs to contain elements which are applicable across the board including stationery, signage and printed collateral. I can just imagine Post Projects happily ticking all three of these golden rules off on a billboard upon finishing this identity for the 13th annual New Forms Festival, a festival celebrating arts, science and grassroots organisations across Canada and the rest of the world which took place last year.

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    Furniture company Fioroni had the wise idea to turn to Swiss design consultancy CCRZ when it came to designing their logo, catalogue and website, and they must be mighty glad they did. Their products channel a “contemporary reinterpretation of the Alpine constructional tradition, combined with carefully crafted details and a clever use of solid wood and industrial plywood.”

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    Franz Kafka, Vladimir Nabokov, Nick Hornby, T.S Elliot, Richard Dawkins, Ian Banks and Martin Amis – what ties them all together (aside from their stratospheric levels of success in the literary world)? Well for one thing they’ve all had the good fortune to have the mighty Jamie Keenan, London-based designer and book fetishist, lend his skills to their covers. Jamie’s designed more beautiful covers for works of fiction and non-fiction than I’m capable of wrapping my head around, including my absolute favourite cover for Lolita – a novel that has sent numerous designers into panic spirals when tasked with its reinvention.

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    Having just won magazine of the year at the SPD awards it’s probably of little surprise that New York is a magazine with serious design pedigree. They turn out bi-weekly editions of fantastic journalism all packaged in a manner that makes the content leap from the page, practically forcing you to engage with it. Karishma Sheth is responsible for a large part of that leaping, working full-time on feature and supplement design to create layouts that remain illuminating and exciting week on week. Prior to New York Karishma worked for Doyle Partners and Pentagram, so she’s already racked up some pretty solid design credits. For our money though, it’s her editorial work that really stands out, particularly this witty digest of the Big Apple’s must-see artworks. Very nice indeed!

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    TWO, or Think Work Observe, are a design studio based in Udine, Italy. They create very modern and simple publication identities, and what is particularly intriguing about them is that they also design their identities’ accompanying fonts. We were curious about the process that actually goes into creating a typeface, a process that seems so intriguingly subtle and precise.

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    Deceptive though it might sound, I think the task of taking something boring sounding and making it engaging is one of the most fascinating elements of design – the craftsmanship involved in showing something to its full potential through a limited set of visuals is not to be sniffed at. Interface design is a prime example of where this skill comes to light, and designer and art director Roger Dario does it brilliantly.

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    Thank God that in the barren scrap heap of graphic design littered with apps, bogus coffee shop logos and poorly thought-out iPad swipe features there is someone making work infused with joy, love and humour. Tadashi Ueda’s designs have such a child-like innocence and excitable fascination with exploration – he utilises colours and shapes laid out in unpredictable grids to take the viewer’s hand and lead them on a journey into his eyeballs to witness the way in which he sees the world.

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    Frustration can be a powerful creative force. So it was for Australian graphic designer Andrew Shillington who increasingly struggled to find designers with the rights skills for his Sydney-based studio Shillington Graphics.

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    I sometimes struggle when writing about graphic design as sometimes bad graphic design is masked by fluoro colours and wiggly lines, and it’s difficult for me to differentiate from design with skill and design that just looks like it may be skilful. In the case of Beglu Karahan I have been reassured by the rest of the team that this is candy-coloured design with substance! Hoorah! What I love about Beglu is how he has created fun, cheerful designs for Berlin’s Downtown Festival and other music events – his summery style just seems to be perfect for the job. That work he did for a studio called Sundaze is literally the graphic design equivalent of a Solero, and it’s totally lush.

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    Football is all about moments; a coming-together of time and space and talent and luck which is almost impossible to replicate or convey away from the drama of the stadium. Designer Rick Hincks has taken this challenge and run with it to its logical conclusion, creating these super minimalist posters celebrating the best goals of the current World Cup in Brazil. Abstracted to this degree they become almost absurd; dry diagrams onto which we the viewers project our own experiences of the goals on which they’re based. A glance through Rick’s online shop proves he has pedigree when it comes to working with the beautiful game in this way, and with just a week of the World Cup left we hope the tournament provides a few more poster-worthy moments.

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    Graphic design agencies have different specialities, and Finnish agency Werklig is no different. The Helsinki-based studio are the absolute masters when it comes to taking briefs that appear to leave little room for manoeuvre and creating something eye-catching and engaging. Put another way, they make boring stuff look brilliant. Take this work for the 2014 European Registrars Conference. You know the European Registrars Conference! It’s pretty much the continent’s most “important forum for information, discussion and networking among museum professionals.”