“I like to think my work is always working towards framing its content in a way that adds value or importance, and at the very least, to inspire someone to pick it up,” says New York-based graphic designer Patrick Slack.
This open mind to new projects allows Patrick to ensure that he is not imposing his own style on things, instead preferring to work specifically, treating each piece of work on its merits. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid having a style, I definitely do, but I really try and let the content or concept decide what something should look and feel like. It always becomes typographically led or image led. Some approaches are louder and some are quieter, I quite like that.”
Much of Patrick’s work is based around print and editorial design, however as of late he has begun to encompass digital too – not that you would know it. “A lot of my work now, although I haven’t posted a lot of it yet, involves digital design,” he says. “I spent two years exclusively making websites, so I learned a lot in this period, that has come to influence what I do today.”
An example of how Patrick has applied his work to a digital project is his redesign of the website and identity for WM Artist Management. “This project started as a digital-first endeavour, but ended up building the visual identity out through various print collateral,” he says. “The visual concept was so simple, but took on a variety of behaviours across platforms. I don’t think I could work in just print or digital. I like that each medium requires unique attention.”
As well as trying to keep a broad outlook when it comes to style, Patrick tries to let the project or the client speak for themselves when it comes to the themes that the work explores too: “I’m not sure there are themes in my work, except for the fact that I do my best to work with kind people who are doing great work,” he explains. “Or rather if I see that someone is amazing at what they do, but hasn’t been able to articulate it yet, I do my best to shine a light on it.”
One recent project where he managed to shine a light on a project despite constraints, was his This Is a Pipe Show work. A lack of time and costs meant that printing on a Risograph machine was the only option: “We did a one colour booklet packaged in a ziplock bag with separately printed four colour postcards we printed online inside,” says Patrick. “Working in this lo-fi way sometimes leads you to ideas or workarounds you might not have arrived at with an unlimited budget.”
With a workload that varies this much, it is inevitable that the creative process will need to adapt to each project. Patrick tries to keep certain aspects the same, while also allowing himself to stray and follow his instinct if need be: “A lot of my creative process is about collecting and gathering. It’s about digging through a specific subject or subculture. A lot of visual ideas come out of that,” he says. “I really love that about design, it’s the gift that keeps giving. But my process truly varies, sometimes you also just have a gut feeling about something, and allowing yourself to follow that is important.”
As he continues to diversify his practice into new areas, he also speaks of his desire to embrace the moving image too. “I’m so inspired by cinema. I always have been. I’d like to start moving into more projects that have video components,” he says. “I feel like design is a great place to start out as a creative because it is so broad, it’s kind of like a creative primer for everything else.”
About the Author
Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.