From philosophy books to art installations, Anna Sukhova loves pushing the limits of her practice
The Moscow-born graphic designer says she learns by getting involved in “projects from different fields”.
- Ayla Angelos
- 30 November 2021
“As a graphic designer, I never work alone,” says Frankfurt-based Anna Sukhova, who values collaboration as a key component to her practice. After moving to Germany from Russia to study at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach, Anna’s approach became much more experimental – switching from rules and techniques to looking more intently at theory and critical thinking. Having learnt plenty about the role of graphic design during her studies, this allowed her to dabble in photography, installation and collaborations with her peers.
Now, she’s currently finishing up her second master’s degree and, after working in several studios, is more than happy as a freelancer taking on different commissions and self-initiated projects. This includes editorial and exhibition design, typography, installations, visual identities, performance and illustrations. She also works collaboratively with galleries and artists, and boasts a portfolio filled with client work for the publishing house AdMarginem, Museum Garage in Moscow, Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt, High School of Art and Design Offenbach and Implantieren Festival.
Proving just how much she enjoys working as a team, she says: “I try to get involved in projects from different fields so that I can learn a lot more.” For instance, she’s been working for several years with andpartnersincrime, a company producing conceptual documentary theatre performances themed around current political topics. Anna’s role involves graphic design but also staging, costumes and even participating in the performance side of things herself. She also collaborates heavily with artists and curators, which is something she thoroughly enjoys. “In any project, teamwork is very important to me,” she says. “It is crucial for me to work with someone, not for someone. It is essential for me to identify with the context of the project, and for each participant to identify with the design I’m proposing.”
In fact, Anna feels that some of the “coolest” projects she works on are those pitched by people who don’t have a “fully formulated task”, but just a concept. This means she’s able to have a creative back-and-forth with the collaborator. “It’s important for me to talk a lot,” she notes, citing the discussion phase as the moment in which the best ideas are born. “When you talk about your work to try to prove your point of view, you get a better understanding of your own idea. I never sit down at the computer until I have listened to my thoughts and discussed them with my team.” Once these ideas have blossomed, that’s when she’ll move on to the sketching phase, ringing out the ideas and the thoughts in her mind before taking things to the computer.
GalleryAdMarginem: Concept and design by Anna Sukhova (Copyright © AdMarginem, 2021)
One of her recent accomplishments is the campaign design for an exhibition titled Intervention. A showcase of students’ work in the public spaces of Frankfurt and Offenbach, the exhibition is a welcome arrival having been previously cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. At the time, billboards remained empty, so the idea was born to present the students’ work on a 180-metre-long fence and in the underground. “We had to figure out how to display the works not in a white space, which is where they’re usually presented, but in an urban context and on billboards,” says Anna. In response, the designer worked on a visual language that tied all of the students’ work in unison, featuring black and white graphics, abstract forms and reworked versions of the exhibition’s title.
Elsewhere, she’s also completed the exhibition design for Aus heutiger Sicht: Diskurse über Zukunft (which translates to “From Today’s Perspective. Discourses on the Future”), bringing together the work of 10 students and graduates from University of Art and Design in Offenbach at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt. Anna collaborated with Jonas Deuter to develop the identity, keeping in line with the theme of “future”. Another project saw Anna work on an installation called Hell yes store, which was made with Kathrin Baumgartner and 10 guest artists, who all explored the topic of consumption – over 400 boxes of art objects were used in the presentation.
“But it’s the books that keep me busy most of all,” says Anna, who’s been working closely with the Moscow publishing house AdMarginem. “I really like the philosophy of this publishing house: they take the most interesting texts on philosophy, art history and literature of new genres and translate them into Russian, so that they are available to the Russian-speaking public.”
AdMarginem: Concept and design by Anna Sukhova (Copyright © AdMarginem, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.