A typeface made out of dildos and butt plugs? With Furqan Jawed, anything is possible

Furqan’s ideas are unlike much we’ve seen before and are a product of his thoroughly expansive mind.

Date
17 November 2021

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The aesthetic of Brooklyn-based graphic designer Furqan Jawed feels like an odyssey into retrofuturism. Classical elements of the pop art movement blend well with the high-fidelity experimental imagery of contemporary design. But, closer inspection reveals a plethora of mind-bending ideas. Originally from Pune, India, and having lived in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi (the latter of which has its own thriving art and design scene), and finally New Haven to study at Yale University, Furqan is a designer well-travelled. It’s no wonder that his work pulls on a rich tapestry of inspiration. “My journey in graphic design began post-high school with a curiosity to create fantastical self-portraits on Photoshop,” he tells It’s Nice That. “At art school, I quickly realised that graphic design could not only be used to present ideas to the world through text and image but also that the ubiquitous nature of graphic design makes it a prime vessel for meaning.” Now, long after the days spent in self-portrait mode in Photoshop, Furqan has crafted an impressive portfolio. His penchant for the colour red is particularly striking. “I’m interested in the hypnotic quality of red as an affect; it being completely enveloping in full saturation,” he explains. “I use it as full-bleed landscapes or sometimes fleetingly as a highlight.” For Furqan, red is powerful in its multitude of binaries: “life and death, celebration and danger, nationalism and fascism, power and religion, love and lust.” It essentially makes his work hyper-visible.

In addition to a hyper-visible portfolio, Furqan’s innovation in graphic design lies within his ability to repurpose hypnotising images. “The world we live in today is dominated by images, as in we are constantly making them, sharing them, and consuming them,” he explains, touching on the captivating and seductive nature of image circulation. “I’m interested in using these hypnotising images from universally recognised narratives in order to tell a new story or uncover the lost ones.” In doing so, Furqan’s work taps into the same trope of seduction used in advertisement, utilising it to “trick viewers into consuming an alternative narrative.” We can see this play out in Furqan’s work by his use of crop, zoom, and parallel contrasts of the images he finds and collects. “The source material is manipulated, sometimes literally through the visual form of it, other times more conceptually through language.”

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Furqan Jawed: Pizza Boy (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2020)

It’s clear how much thought and detail Furqan puts into his works. A great example is in his thesis project, a book created in his final year of Yale titled Graphic. “It was a provocative attempt to document my favourite works that I produced during my hybrid virtual-real time at Yale,” Furqan explains. “I actualise the book as a fetish object because it is a body of work ‘bound’ in leather, which is commonly used as a cover in the book-making world.” The glossy black patent binding opens from the centre, and a red velvet board peeks out from within, “as a carnal invitation to the works inside.” It’s quite an interesting and fascinating piece, indicative that Furqan thinks in all dimensions when it comes to design. But still, Furqan always keeps the fun in things. “Pizza Boy is another publication of mine that comprises of pictures of actors role-playing as delivery boys in gay pornography,” he says. “The book is edible and blurs the lines between corporeal consumption, the consumption of bodies, and the consumption of images. At worst, it’s a cheesy exploration of tropes of seduction in pornography.” Further, Furqan’s interest in seductive tropes within graphic design doesn’t stop at books. “Anal Neue Display is a typeface that I made from the form of buttplugs and anal beads,” he tells us on the see-it-to-believe-it masterpiece. “A quick glance at the typeface reads as yet another decorative typeface, but upon a closer inspection one might be able to read between the lines.”

Clearly, Furqan is always pushing the boundaries of graphic design and typography with his thoroughly expansive mind. “Images within graphic design particularly construct a reality, an idealised version of lifestyles and futures,” he says. “However, does this version truly extend into the world, beyond the confines of the frame? Who is it ideal for anyway, and who is excluded from it? It decidedly portrays one reality, but in framing one perspective, it hides a lot more than it reveals.” Such a theme can be seen in his project State Street Apartments and Blue Marble, both excellent somewhat-fun and somewhat-stirring projects of Furqan’s.

Now, Furqan is using his immense talent to try new mediums. “I’ve been interested in fashion so I’m now working towards a project where I create custom T-shirts that have removable images,” he tells us. “Almost like a book that has tear-outs, and also casually thinking about curating a poster show featuring South Asian artists in a house.” Whatever it is that Furqan has coming up next, we can’t wait.

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Furqan Jawed: Pizza Boy (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2020)

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Furqan Jawed: Pizza Boy (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2020)

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Furqan Jawed: Insert - Yale School of Art x The Hundreds (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2021)

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Furqan Jawed: The Blue Marble (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2020)

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Furqan Jawed: State Street Apartments (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2020)

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Furqan Jawed: Graphic (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2021)

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Furqan Jawed: Graphic (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2021)

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Furqan Jawed: Graphic (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2021)

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Furqan Jawed: Graphic (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2021)

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Furqan Jawed: The Blue Marble (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2020)

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Furqan Jawed: Tauba Auerbach Poster (Copyright © Furqan Jawed, 2021)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in May 2020 after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

jl@itsnicethat.com

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