Graphic designer Alyar Aynetchi’s portfolio is stark and confronting, with “a lot of black and white”
Based in Amsterdam, the designer from Luxembourg combines his interests in music, tech aesthetics and fashion in his editorially-focused portfolio.
- Ruby Boddington
- 18 June 2020
The portfolio of Amsterdam-based art director and graphic designer Alyar Aynetchi is wide-ranging, to say the least. Typographically-led and contemporary when it comes to aesthetics, both his concepts and visuals are an amalgamation of myriad interests – interests he’s held since a young age and which have shaped his practice ever since.
Alyar can clearly pinpoint his first 2Pac CD and his ensuing collection of punk CDs as the objects which introduced him to graphic design, allowing him to develop an “interest in style as language”. He learned how “pockets of culture were represented by local codes and expressions” and, this combined with his love of skateboarding, led him to soon start producing his own DIY zines and posters at a young age. “I guess you could say that created a sense of circularity in my interests between music, art and fashion and how I apply that in my work,” he explains.
This introduction to the medium instilled in him a love of print but to define Alyar’s practice by that single output would be over-simplifying. “I hardly label things anymore,” he says. “It’s just about finding that sweet spot that responds to the brief in a way that makes sense on a pragmatic and intuitive level – bringing the most out of a brief by exploring the intersections available. Whether that’s a visual identity, a fashion shoot, whatever.” In turn, trying to pinpoint an area of design which interests him the most is like “asking someone what their favourite song is.”
A recent project which seems to sum up this multifaceted approach, channeled through an editorial output, is titled Anxiety ’til Infinity – The Initial Six. A series of three artworks, each installed edge-to-edge in white frames, it deals with anxiety “and the baggage that comes with that” through a “personal expression and interpretation of the noise” surrounding the topic. “Some of the artworks are more literal than others, some less,” Alyar outlines. “Some are rigged with hidden meanings here and there, this was one of the first times I felt I didn’t need to explain my work.”
In terms of a favourite project, he points to his graduation project from ECAL in 2017, where he undertook an MA in art direction. Titled Closer, it’s a visual essay exploring the perturbation surrounding the changing state of intimacy in the digital age. Part book, part magazine, through its printed form Closer is an “object of preservation as well as a commentary on the ephemerality of its subject matter.” Alyar explains some of the project’s unique design and its impact: “Out of a 300-page book consisting only of photography, I perforated the pages so that you could create relations between images as you went through the book, making it this thing you need to sit down quietly for 15 minutes and flip through, and absorb, sink in. You’d almost never be able to identify the people in the story either – it was more about identifying yourself with the story in other ways, more emotional ways. But you’d get the mood through the photographic art direction and the object itself, it’s a little like entering a void.”
Both Anxiety ’til Infinity – The Initial Six and Closer demonstrate Alyar’s propensity for drama – “I have a deep interest in dark and moody subjects – and the undercurrents in the projects and narratives I explore,” he adds. This is fulled by the music he listens to – “my entire life kind of orbits around music” – but also by his taste in fashion, tech aesthetics and politics, the latter of which used to manifest more explicitly, especially during the period before and after he worked at Metahaven. Today, however, his formal training at ECAL which “definitely cemented that grid-based approach” combines with his personal interests in an outcome which is “ironically” born from a punk mentality; from breaking the rules to find new ground. “I once had a teacher tell me my work is ‘ice cold’,” he recalls. “I took that as a compliment.”
At the core of Alyar’s visual language and self-expression, therefore, is an attitude and how this is channelled into his output takes many forms. “It’s stark, sometimes confronting, and other times more eye to eye. Anyway, a lot of black and white,” he concludes. “Sometimes a minimalist, sometimes a maximalist.” Currently working as a senior designer at Studio Lore, Alyar is busying himself with “smaller projects, album covers, music videos, posters, personal projects, stuff like that,” on the side. And since quarantine hit, he’s been getting back into making music. “Overall, it’s been a weird and turbulent year so far, but I’m riding the wave. Guess we all are.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.