Finding commonality in graphic design and judo, Arthur Nabi’s practice prides itself on discipline

The Paris-based designer learnt how to think independently by reaching black belt in judo. Here, he discusses how he utilises these strengths in his design practice.

20 April 2020


Despite the fact that Arthur Nabi is only a 21-years-old, the graphic designer displays a technique and artistry far beyond his years. He was lucky enough to spend a good deal of his latter high school education studying graphic design, a fortuitous head start that most secondary schools do not offer on their curriculums. “I have always had a natural affinity for any form of visual communication,” he tells us, “it only felt right to follow this interest." With this in mind, he moved from the suburbs of Evry to the heart of the capital to complete the last three years of his secondary education, with an emphasis on all-things graphics related.

This early introduction to the medium proves to be crucial in making Arthur the established designer that he is today. He paid particular attention to what his lecturers had to say, positively influencing him and in turn, cementing his creative outlook today. Not only did he learn the necessary skills required, but during these formative years, Arthur was encouraged to pursue personal projects and explore the topics that inherently interested him. It was here that the designer whole-heartedly delved into the art of judo; an activity he’d spent much of his childhood practicing.

But as a graphic design student, judo influenced him in another way – not just physically. He deduced a number of commonalities between his graphic design and judo practice, and usefully channelled the philosophy of the sport into a creative approach. “I reached black belt at the age of 16, having spent 10 years of my life practicing the martial art,” explains Arthur. “It taught me respect, to be disciplined with my approach and to think independently. It taught me how to move fluidly but with great skill and strength. The open mat represents my graphic art board and negative space, while all elements and type allow your eye to move around my designs as I would move on the mat.”


Arthur Nabi

It’s a distinct approach to the medium that landed Arthur an internship (now job) with the Paris-based agency Convoy straight after graduation. Working for Convoy, he’s garnered clients such as the likes of Nike, Off-White, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton and Red Bull Music Festival, just to name a few, all while keeping up with the all-important personal projects too. In a recent project for Nike and Off-White’s Track and Field event in London, Arthur worked closely on the graphic design with Convoy for the creative direction, spatial design and user experience. He adds on the brief: “I enjoyed it a lot as it allowed me to design over a wide range of uses from digital to product, and cognitive ergonomic design.”

Alongside his work with Convoy, Arthur continues to listen to the words of his tutors and pushes forwards with personal projects. One of many is Argentik, a magazine showcasing film and analogue photography founded by Arthur and his good friend Victor Barreyre. It started out with an enduring love for the medium, focusing on a different theme with each issue and accepting submissions from an open call. “We are creating a space where we can encourage people to not only focus on their digital screens, but integrate and collaborate in an authentic way,” Arthur adds on the project, which fundamentally pays homage to the serendipitous medium of analogue photography.

Seeing as he’s still very young, it’s safe to say that there’s plenty more room to grow for this designer who’s just starting out. It’s an attitude embraced by Arthur, who says, moving forward, “I will continue to push my skills as I believe you can never stop learning.” As well as developing his graphic design practice with time, he also hopes to learn more about himself personally. Overall, by working closely with creatives he looks up to, Arthur’s goal is to execute work to the highest level possible, so it can receive the attention it deserves.

GalleryArthur Nabi

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Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

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