For London-based graphic designer Joseph Lebus, graphic design has always been about communicating. It’s the mediums ability to translate information of any sort into a visually understandable entity that drew him in, following his studies in foreign languages and philosophy at Durham university, before studying a course in graphic design and communication at Shillington College.
Joseph’s background evidently informs the work he makes and encourages his approach which is largely typographically led. “The ability that graphic designers have, to bring theory and thought into the aesthetic realm, is really unique and definitely is what got me hooked,” he tells It’s Nice That of the beginnings of his love affair with design. In turn, the designer’s latest work is a series of experiments around “the question of language and the way in which it limits our quest towards true meaning, a place of ontological authenticity beyond the metaphysical realm of thought,” he says. What the designer means by this statement is how “everything that exists in our world is defined by what it is not,” he explains. “Likewise, every word is defined by an endless list of other words, which have different significations for different people and times. As a result, to attempt to capture true meaning through language would appear to be impossible, for as soon as we write these words down they become lost in a world of differing significations.”
It’s a concept Joseph’s explored in numerous forms. First, at university he considered this through literature, particularly the work of Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar “who tried to access ontological authenticity through the very medium that was holding him back — language,” the designer points out. “As a result, a lot of my recent work has also tried to wrestle with this idea, but in the visual realm instead.” Joseph attempts this by placing the viewer in a position where “they question the need to read the words within the design,” by portraying type as a texture or a surface. “These experiments have shown me the power of graphic design in moving beyond the world of language entirely and attempting to create a more emotional relationship with one’s audience.”
Consequently, Joseph’s body of work is fully textural with typographic choices that can be used both in the background but boldly in the foreground to draw a viewer’s eye. While his work is fascinatingly theoretical and experiments with the medium, like any graphic designer, Joseph also loves “designing purely for the feeling and enjoyment that comes with aesthetic creation,” he points out. It shows too, in a portfolio that varies excitingly from one piece to the next.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.