2018 has been a busy year so far for South Korean graphic designer, Hezin O. Having last spoken to her when she produced a beautifully illustrated calendar for this year, it seems only right that she’s been filling it with tonnes of stuff — “20 projects, five group shows, one residency and one workshop”, to be precise.
“This year I started studying an MFA in Seoul to develop my visual practice,” she tells It’s Nice That. It was here, as well during her residency in Los Angelos at OTIS College of Art and Design, that the focus of her work began to shift towards concepts related to printing. Instead of a means to an end, printing — and the techniques it harbours — became both a method of production and the actual theme of her work.
Most recently, this manifested in Hezin’s project, Numbers. “I started this work with curiosity about the screening technique in print,” she explains. Screening is a process which converts the continuous tone of an image into dots of varying size, shape and spacing between dots to show a gradient-like effect, similar to the shades in the original. “This is often divided into AM screening using halftone dots and FM screening which uses dithering,” Hezin adds. While working with both silkscreening and Risograph, Hezin noticed that the dots created by this technique were visible, and could therefore “understand visually that the gradients were represented by an optical illusion. It was interesting that the image was actually an optical illusion created by a myriad of points in print,” she explains.
As a result, Hezin became interested in the forms and concepts which exist before the image is produced such as grids, points, lines and units. “I wanted to make numbers for a calendar by using the characteristics of screening – changes in angle and thickness,” Hezin explains. “Normally, the calendar has a system that produces 12 cases (12 months) using numbers from one to 31 (31 days) in two colours (weekday, weekend) per page, so I thought that it would be a suitable form to apply the logic of screening.” Numbers, therefore, presents a series of images which are representative of different dates and days of the week based on the combination of lines and colours utilised in each image.
This approach to design — one that is wholeheartedly a product of the techniques it uses – can also largely be attributed to Hezin’s ongoing collaboration with Corners, a design studio and Risograph printing service. Earlier this year she worked on Gaji #9: Paper and Offset Print with the studio. Gaji is a newsletter issued by a Korean paper company called Hansol Paper and Hezin was brought in on its ninth issue as a collaborative designer. “We planned to test examples of printing techniques, such as screen tone, gradients, overprinting and nock out on Hansol’s paper,” she recalls. The final result is a set of beautiful graphics which are also functional. A series of circles, each image shows the “number of different cases where six spot colours were spectrally separated from each other through the gradient pages”.
Although enjoying developing form with the motive of printing, Hezin admits she gets easily bored once she’s tried something several times. “Because of this,” she remarks, “when a client asks me to do something similar to something in my past work, it bothers me a little to make something again in the same way. So I try to suggest a new way I have not done before.” This attitude means Hezin’s work progresses at a rapid rate, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
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