We first spoke to graphic designer Desmond Palmer in 2020. At the time, he was revelling in his foray into photography, and the implementation of tools such as Lightroom, Photoshop and Illustrator in his designs. He could be found taking shots at community events or wide lone portraits, and further amplifying shadow, hue, tone and exposure before creating his existential posters. Now, Desmond’s designs have edged ever closer to a sense of harmony. Using grid layouts that are planned rather meticulously, he creates patterns and compositions that keep us enticed. From gradient mapping to digital airbrushing, he continues his exploration of form and colour in order to “create a sense of curiosity,” he tells us.
Desmond is “guided by the principles of geometric abstraction”. In his artworks, photographs persist, but aren’t overbearing, often wrapping viewers up in feelings of sentimentality. “They act as focal points, where I hope to inject a tangible reality into the abstract piece,” he adds. When you look at the works, the shapes and compositions are a looking glass for the imagery that is oftentimes cropped and difficult to interpret alone. But, that may just be the allure of it. Desmond has gone from creating his posters, with titles that influence our perception to abstract pieces that insist on us taking a beat to understand.
In Stage Flight, the outer pattern is reminiscent of an ornate picture frame. Colours allude to optimism, and an energetic flow, but the blue circles could also allude to the actual music, the rhythm, the bass, the melody. What’s so daring about Desmond’s work is the fact that imagery, which is often the focal point in many posters and designs, is often the last thing we admire, but when we get there, we are forced to really admire it because of the shapes it has been placed in and the array of feelings evoked through colour and composition. And when humans aren’t present, Desmond also elicits these feelings through documenting nature. In Cornerstone, plants are the most muted throughout the design. Mostly dark and dreary, the only light and colour that manages to make its way through rests in the flowers’ filaments and mirrors the colourway throughout the surrounding ‘frame’.
Desmond says that he is “paying homage to the spirited and vibrant aesthetic of 1980s neon and Memphis design,” in his works. “This synthesis of influences shapes my artistic identity, as they allow me to blend precision, vibrancy and a touch of nostalgia,” he adds. And it’s no surprise, as his work has certainly taken on geometric, playful and inviting flair. But, in our eyes he’s gone a step further, engrossing us in a slower processing of imagery and taking time to interpret its meaning, which is surely a gift in this day and age.
Desmond Palmer: Sunset Serenity (Copyright © Desmond Palmer, 2021)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.