“‘Does it have to be readable?’ is a main theme in a lot of my work,” says Icelandic-born and Berlin-based graphic designer Greta Thorkels. This approach to design isn’t a usual one, but by turning design on its head Greta is carving her own eclectic graphic path.
“I’ve always felt drawn to extremes, and developed from being very minimalist to a maximalist, trying to pack as many layers as possible into a small space,” Greta tells It’s Nice That. The extremes the designer mentions are visible in her work, layer upon layer of elongated text matched with digitally manipulated images of nostalgic culture, warped to keep references afresh.
Projects by Greta dive into 90s and early 2000s culture, for instance Rory and Jess a zine “in response to watching too much Gilmore Girls and feeling weird about the glorification of Rory’s relationship to Jess,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I gathered various texts and a Buzzfeed listicle, mostly feminist essays about why Jess is perceived to be ‘a perfect man’ and how that is connected to internalised sexism.” Projects such as this peak interest by being about a television show most have remember, but analyse them intellectually with a contemporary design lick of paint.
This theme continues in another zine by Greta titled What’s it Gonna be!? placing Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson’s 2006 banger in to a publication format. “_What’s it Gonna be!?_ has long been one of my favourite music videos, and the zine is a tribute to that,” she says. “I spent maybe three hours on it, everything being very intuitive and just falling into place. It was also an exercise in how far I could go into into ‘unreadable’ territory,” creating a zine that uses a David Rudnick style of design to the absolute maximum.
Pulling her practice into the modern age is Boys a sleeve design by Cyber, “a rap duo from Reykjavik,” Greta explains. “Three days before New Years Eve they called me and said they were making an EP to released on 1.1.17 at midnight called Boys, and I should think about snakes, games and boys.” The result is a EP sleeve coated with influences of “Gameboy Colour games and old Sport’s Illustrated covers,” which was then adapted and extended into a three-spread feature in Neptún magazine.
After graduating from the Icelandic Academy of Arts with a bachelors in visual communication last year, Greta is currently living in Berlin interning at Studio Yukiko, a great fit for her stylistic tendencies. With her portfolio of projects informed by working “with mood boards and collecting references and spending time looking through Discogs for inspiration, type and image treatment,” we can’t wait to see what Greta’s DIY influences grow into next.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.