In November 2017, we dove into the portfolio of graphic designer David Wise, the then creator of somewhat chaotic compositions, filled with texture, typography and reconstructed imagery. At that point in his life, David had finished his master’s in Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art, which followed on from a bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Painting and Digital Media at University of Kentucky. It was after his studies that he found his path in graphic design, which led him to take the plunge, working freelance at publications such as Crush Fanzine, as well as working full-time within Urban Outfitters’ graphic design team in Philadelphia. “The timing of the last feature is interesting,” David tells It’s Nice that. “In some ways, it marked the end of a previous chapter and the beginning of something else.”
David has since taken a new position at the Aspen Art Museum and has gone on to launch his own creative studio, called Forthcoming. Specialising in design and creative direction, the studio focuses on collaborations with architects, artists, writers, publishers and cultural institutions, with a particular focus on printed matter. “I had moved from a fast fashion retailer headquartered in a large city to a small but ambitious contemporary art museum situated in the mountains servicing a fairly defined, but challenging in its own right, context – locally and nationally,” he explains. Shifting from a team environment to working as the sole designer, “responsible for painting everything” from the general materials to gallery guide publications, invitations, special event identities and asset cards, for example, it was a transition that meant he could test out new workflows and techniques. “With this also came a particular sense of freedom and line of communication or management that I had not experienced before,” he says.
As a consequence of this dramatic shift, David’s process evolved positively. “I have inevitably grown because of this,” he adds, “but my ongoing interest in antagonising process and material within my practice and methodology has not.” In this sense, David’s work is as textured and pastiched as before; interested in the the ways that materials, in particular, and techniques have a “malleability of language”. In turn, he strives to push the boundaries of what can be achieved through a brief, evident through the printed publication projects he’s been involved in over the last two years.
This includes a collaboration with Cheryl Donegan, with whom he’d supplied the exhibition catalogue Grlz + Veils to accompany to her solo exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum. The first book he worked on at the museum, he made sure to take into account the “varying bodies of work” completed throughout her career, which includes video, painting and fashion. “The notion of articulation was a theme throughout the process – how can each part of the book, down to the often overlooked aspects such as the binder’s thread and headbands, be manipulated to convey or point back to Cheryl’s work?” Posing this question, the resulting form is equally as diverse as the content. Each media was conveyed through the use of an overly glossy and thin stock for the video sections, to a coated and textured stock for the fashion magazine covers, plus a cover alluding directly back to the artist’s work.
David’s chosen commissions are purely representative of his past studies in art, particularly apparent through the work taken on through his studio, Forthcoming. The client list includes the likes of artists Nate Lowman, Gabriel Rico, Rashid Johnson and Seth Price, plus architects, designers, and the exhibition and research centre CCS Bard to name a few. “Having the opportunity to intensely focus on book design and publishing at scale has allowed me to push and gain a better understanding of my own approach,” David explains, “while being in conversation with many skilled and dedicated printers and production teams within the US and abroad.” He adds: “Being able to collaborate with open-minded and willing people can not be understated!”
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