Since he last featured on the site two years ago, graphic designer Jack Kimberley says his practice has changed and progressed, becoming more defined and systematic. “In 2017, I had just left university. My work was an outpour of all the things in graphic design I wanted to do, with little structure in place to direct this surge of labour into coherent and useful channels,” he explains. “My work is now very idea-based. A solid concept is easy to design. A good concept’s own reasoning will produce the work itself.”
Jack has applied this more cerebral approach to a variety of projects he has worked on recently. Initially undergoing his first serious attempt at designing a typeface, which resulted in Seaton, a high contrast display serif, he has also since designed a poster and other printed matter for Wild at Hand, a contemporary drawing exhibition in Berlin, and most recently, the titles and photo book for Krahang, a short documentary by London-based filmmaker, Joshua Gordon.
Regarding the latter, which looks at youth motorbike gangs in Bangkok, Jack says the project was a rewarding experience. “Josh had a lot of time for my thoughts, as a designer in my own right, and wanted to see my references. I think this kind of respect in a project is rare,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Bar some pointers, and that it was to be a photo book and I was to focus on the order, selection and finishing, I was very free.” Working closely together, he and Josh both shared the opinion that it’s the idea that matters – even if that idea is simply to create a poignant portrayal of a group of boys – and it surfaces through the mediums.
When designing the titles for the film, Jack says that the subject matter informed his conceptual and aesthetic decisions. “The main title type is instantly recognisable as Excoffon’s Antique Olive Nord. With the classic motif of the motorbike-riding rebel as the focus, this typeface was the perfect accompaniment because it is equally classic and can often be spotted (in England, at least) in poorly applied window vinyls, and bougie signs belonging to shops stacked to the brim with stereos, bikes and random wares. It exists simultaneously in both worlds.” Jack also explains that the letterforms, when set in the title letters “Krahang”, also feel sleek, robust and almost rideable: “The counter and horizontal spur/arm of the G feel like handlebars.”
But it’s not just with open briefs like the one he was given for KRAHANG that Jack thrives. He equally enjoys working within the confines of poster design. Collaborating with his girlfriend Brit Seaton and HVW8 Berlin gallery manager, Jenny Ames, who together curated the exhibition, he says the restrictions presented by this kind of project are always fun. Featuring emerging illustrators such as It’s Nice That’s One to Watch from 2018, Jeffrey Cheung, Brie Moreno and Alfie Kungu, Jack says the artist’s names were a central component of the design, as well as a small abstract work by one of the exhibitors, Aaron Pennington.
And then there’s the self-initiated projects that have no briefs, such as the task Jack set himself of designing his first proper typeface. A natural progression from his studies in type design, he says the process of making Seaton was a learning exercise. “The biggest challenge was finding any kind of instructional resource besides glyphs tutorials and a letter spacing PDF from Eric Hu’s Eric’s Readings download. Largely, I was collating all the specimen books I possibly could and trawling type forums,” he says. Spending much time deconstructing and measuring proportions of classic serif typefaces, organising them and thinking about them through a system, Jack then blended in more modern features and interests where they took his fancy.
The result is a typeface that marries contemporary form with structural cues from classic cuts of Caslon. “I think my general ignorance and lack of knowledge of type design history made this project very fun,” he tells us. “I wanted it to be as polished and technically correct as possible, but I just don’t have the formal capabilities yet and when I accepted that, it made the process more enjoyable. I’m sure there will be a few people shaking their heads when they look at the design, but that’s okay. I like to feel that there is a nice gesture of personality in there.”
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