Before pursing a career in graphic design, Berlin-based Anne Büttner found herself steering towards the art scene. “I was actually more interested in painting in my teenage years and wanted to study art,” she admits. “However, I decided to apply for illustration at HAW, Hamburg, where I also took some type classes.”
During this time, however, Anne felt like something was missing: “I wanted an experimental education that focused on a critical approach to content.” So be it, after a lecture by Luna Maurer – who talked about the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and its conceptual approach – Anne became incredibly inspired and decided to apply there. And in her final year, she recalls a time when she was supervised by graphic designers Linda van Deursen and Julia Born, “who were crucial for my work and analysis”.
This series of events is no surprising one. Anne creates experimental and organic typefaces that mingle with coloured patterns and discreet poster designs; variety and freedom is what draws Anne towards the medium. “I’m interested in a lot of different subjects. Fortunately, through my practice, I’m not stuck in one field.”
Anne tends to prefer working on projects that interlace with the art and culture sectors – “but they are also not the easiest,” she says. “It’s sometimes difficult to deal with clients because I have an idea and they want something different. Even though I know what the client wants, I always try to not go for the obvious solution. My task is to find a way in which graphic design can evolve a certain aspect of art – in a book, for example. It’s a lot about restrictions and how these can define a book or an identity; it’s about organising content and structure, or even breaking this existing structure, in order to reflect or support the artists’ work with the elements of graphic design.”
Additionally, “quick projects” like posters on various small exhibitions tend to lure in the eye of this designer. Enticed by the short and intense design process with the artists, she enjoys taking a special aspect from their work and translating it into a visual language. “This can be very subtle but sometimes also very experimental, depending on the content and the concept of the artist.” With a current collaboration on the go with graphic designer Jonathan Castro – which she pinpoints as “very thrilling” – it’s clear that Anne is influenced by the dynamic and different conceptual approaches to design.
Another recent project is a catalogue produced for Berlin-based artist Manuel Tayanari, referencing an exhibition he was involved in. “I took all the objects that were displayed and put them in a new context by interacting with blown-up type shapes, referring to the lettering of his title, Hatboy BLD,” she says. With cut-out objects sat alongside patterned backgrounds, she marks the publication as a “reinterpretation” of the work exhibited. Elsewhere, Anne has worked on major long-term projects at creative agency Hort – during which she designed the type concept of the biennale Frankfurter Positionen, an interdisciplinary festival with concerts, theatre, exhibitions and performances. The 2017 edition was themed under the theme of “Ich Reloaded”, whereby she created a clash of various fonts and bold lettering – focusing primarily on detailed typography and the use of colour on grey backdrops.
“I always try to push myself,” concludes Anne, “not only to represent a certain style, but also in terms of how my language can be explored through graphic design in different ways, and how new alternatives can be found.”
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