David Wise: Making Time

Work / Graphic Design

David Wise uses physical methods to alter the relationship between images and text

Graphic designer David Wise has always been involved in the creative world. He studied a bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Painting and Digital Media but it wasn’t until the summer before his senior year that he was formally introduced to graphic design. “I became instantly fascinated with the sort of divergent, but complimentary history design has with other disciplines like architecture and fine art,” David tells It’s Nice That. He went on to spend the rest of his senior year “getting up to speed,” taking as many tangentially related courses as he could. This helped him develop a portfolio that eventually led him to Cranbrook Academy of Art where he received his master’s in Fine Arts.

David’s work is an amalgamation of imagery, texture and typography, which he treats in an illustrative manor to create compelling and, at times, chaotic compositions. Text is reorganised and imagery reconstructed to present the content in a new way. This aesthetic is not a stylistic choice however as much as an approach, disposition or methodology. “Whatever it is called, it essentially stems from an intrigue in the malleability of language and the structures or slippages that can occur within words themselves or larger bodies of text,” David explains. This interest sees David exploring how texts are edited, laid out on the page or produced in order to “elevate themes within the subtext or even to say something completely new.”

Printed matter plays a big part in David’s practice, something he discovered in his first year of graduate school: “I found myself spending nights meticulously rendering three-dimensional space only to have the rendering printed and hung. Ultimately, it left me wanting something more from the work I was producing as there was a neglect of the physical object itself.” Upon discovering publications from the post war avant-gardes as well as alternatives modes of publishing in fine arts from the 1960s and 70s, David began to focus on the publication as a medium and the relationship between text and image as they are contained within it.

It’s no surprise then, that David states compiled publication Assembling as a source of inspiration. Published in the 1970s, Assembling invited contributors to submit whatever they wanted, without limits to production method or content, only that they had to submit 1000 copies at US letter size. This focus on making, as opposed to outcome, can be seen in David’s own working process. He often explores how “the relationships of image and text can be effected through direct physical methods such as layering, folding or even their proximity to on another on the substrate.” Other methods of production see the designer passing content multiple times through a printer or hacking laser-jet and Risographs. This enables him to explore how he can develop the surface of his work through a process that is typically seen as flat, creating “procedural residue” such as creases or excess toner.

Many of the projects posted to David’s Instagram are self-initiated or personal projects made in close collaboration with Daniel Kent and Clint Soren who he met while working as a designer at Urban Outfitters. “One of the larger benefits of my time there was the relationships developed within the company, but also those outside of the company through freelance projects,” he says. One of those projects is a series of posters made for a club night called Making Time in Philadelphia, run by David Pianka. The posters David created responded not only to the history of the night itself, but also directly to the music and the ways in which the music was produced, allowing him to construct a visual narrative.

Another project, Turn, sees David visualising the extended commutes he found himself subjected to during the week and the walks he would take at the weekend. The pamphlets and posters provided a means of recording the moments and chance encounters that may otherwise go unnoticed but “remain vital to the infrastructures in which the everyday is built”.


David Wise: Making Time


David Wise: Making Time


David Wise: Turn


David Wise: Turn


David Wise: Turn


David Wise: Turn


David Wise: Turn


David Wise: Positives


David Wise: Zetetic


David Wise: Endless CSDW