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Joosung Kang: Island

Work / Graphic Design

Graphic designer Joosung Kang uses illustration to communicate complex ideas

Working between his home of Seoul and his current residence of Helsinki, graphic designer Joosung Kang says he discovered his love for the medium while engaged in studies in another subject. “I was studying Industrial Design at the Seoul National University of Science and Technology when I realised I was actually more interested in graphic design, particularly elements such as photography and text, and its relatively short-term production process,” he tells It’s Nice That. “So, I started a career as a graphic designer, and to expand my scope in the medium, I came to Helsinki.”

Focusing largely on printed matter, it’s in poster, catalogue and exhibition design that Joosung’s talent really shines through. And, it’s actually the projects that require a range of skill and an adaptable approach that he enjoys the most. “Depending on the project, I can be in charge of direction, design and even production itself,” he says. “For instance, to make wooden posters on one occasion, I had to cut and sandpaper six A2 wooden panels. I find things like this challenge my roles and responsibility with graphic design.”

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Joosung Kang: The Lives of Others

When working with posters, it’s the conceptual challenges as well as the practical ones that Joosung enjoys. “One of the hardest elements of poster design is figuring out the initial impact that the visuals will create. Unlike traditional poster design, which prioritised informative elements, contemporary practice is all about the first impression,” he explains. “You have to persuade some clients who expect these designs to share the same functions that traditional posters had.”

To remedy this, Joosung says he often looks to illustration for the answer. “Illustrative elements are effective at delivering a strong impression whilst also tackling complicated narratives,” he tells us. Demonstrated beautifully by the posters that make up a significant portion of his portfolio, his drawings effortlessly capture and communicate the themes and messages central to each project. Switching between typographic and abstract elements, Joosung’s designs are at once precise and playful.

The same applies to his book and editorial output, which predominantly coincides with exhibitions. A personal highlight being a publication titled The Lives of Others, which forms part of an exhibition of the same name. Inside, he collates the work of 17 different contributors, consisting of essays, photographs and a typeface made under a theme of existential and spacial reflection. “The moment you close the book, you begin to reflect on your own life and the spaces around you, as I experienced.”

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Joosung Kang: On Returning

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Joosung Kang: On Returning

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Joosung Kang: Fictional Frictions

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Joosung Kang: Fictional Frictions

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Joosung Kang: Island

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Joosung Kang: Pause

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Joosung Kang: Pause

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Joosung Kang: Joosung Kang: Staging In Nature

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Joosung Kang: Staging In Nature

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Joosung Kang: Yhtä Juhlaa

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Joosung Kang: Cut Outs and Rituals