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Kay Kwon: Burn it Down

Work / Graphic Design

Kay Kwon’s graphic design practice arose from his love of rock and hip-hop music

Seoul-based graphic designer Kay Kwon attributes much of his career to his love of rock and hip-hop growing up. “I’ve always been interested in album artwork and covers,” Kay tells It’s Nice That. “Exposed to the Korean indie scene, I felt a big discrepancy between the quality of album artwork and the quality of the music,” explains Kay. “The music would be quite exceptional, but the album artwork wasn’t always the best reflection of it.” Kay speculates this “discrepancy” was down to “a lack of readily available design resources” and as a result, the designer pursued the industry with the hopes of one day, contributing his designs to the music scene.

Since 2014, Kay has run the graphic design studio dogs.dox in Seoul. “I would like my work to speed for itself,” says the designer. And though he “hasn’t really spoken about [his] own style” Kay’s designs are bold and punchy with an emphatic use of type throughout his designs. His use of text is “heavily influenced” by Kay’s interest in music, especially its lyrics. In music, Kay is drawn to “natural flows and rhymes”, for example. He experiments with wordplay and approaches his design process through “specific keywords that are endemic to the project”.

Those of us who can’t read Korean are unfortunately missing out on Kay’s puns that he presents through playful typography. Once he’s established the keywords that his design centres around, he experiments with various combinations of words until he’s arrived at a satisfying visual representation. And so it comes as no surprise that many of Kay’s works are typographic. Though some of the designer’s conceptual ideas “may get lost in translation” to those who can’t read Korean, we can all see that his designs are undoubtedly sleek.

Despite what may seem like a career-heavy attachment to music, Kay is in fact, “open to work on any kind of project” that he deems interesting. Though consistently inspired by film and music aesthetics, Kay brings a cinematically-expressive oeuvre to his whole design output. Producing visual identities, posters, album artwork as well as serving as the art director for his own band, Kay’s graphic design practice is thoughtful and communicative.

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Kay Kwon: Virilesons, Open Your Chest

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Kay Kwon: Runway Talchum

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Kay Kwon: Oxen Greenfrog

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Kay Kwon: Wagwa

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Kay Kwon: A lot

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Kay Kwon: Launching Bottle

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Kay Kwon: Typescape booklet

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Kay Kwon: Hwangpuha album

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Kay Kwon: Assassins on the wall