Established four years ago, the eponymous one man studio M. Giesser has been working with creative organisations and individuals across Canada, The Netherlands and Australia. Based in Melbourne, the studio prides itself on distilling its projects down to its simplest and most reductive form. Allowing the content to shine through as the real hero, M. Giesser’s work is created to feel like very little design has gone into it.
“Graphic design is something that I fell into,” says Mike, who is of course, the “M” in M. Giesser. His first passion was writing, and in the 10th grade he started putting together a zine. The zine was initially called Core, but after receiving a cease and desist order from another magazine of the same title, he changed its name to Guava to avoid fighting a legal battle at the tender age of 16. Continuing to document the school ground politics in mostly comment or opinion pieces, eventually one of Mike’s teachers suggested he take a course in desktop publishing. And long story short, after much hesitation, he took the course, fell in love with it and has been a graphic designer ever since.
As his zine progressively developed, his reputation as a graphic designer grew around town and he started to receive commissions from local businesses who needed new logos or advertisements. “I kinda feel more comfortable behind a monitor than anywhere else," he says, "and the only time my hands feel connected to my body is when I’m holding a mouse.” His latest project, for the Australian arts festival Next Wave, saw Mike take on one of his biggest projects yet. For the last three decades, the organisation has fostered creativity and experimentation across Australia’s landscape in the form of a 20-day festival that happens every two years.
Having gone without a redesign since 2008, for Mike, the brief was simple. “But by simple, I mean terrifying,” he says on the task at hand. Asked to create a brand unlike anything else in the sector, he was employed to create something with movement, symbols, interactivity, and an all-round life of its own. Next Wave weren’t interested in anything “sleek, sexy or timeless”, instead, they were after an identity that could be “shattered and put back together again" – something that could reshape itself depending on what is needed.
Collaborating with Public Office, the first step was to work out some clear brand definitions which could then be “boiled down from a multidimensional egg to a single concept brand identity omelette.” Designing multiple iterations of the brand starting with the Next Wave monogram, Mike and his collaborating creatives devised a visual language which could come together harmoniously, then break apart again. Paired with huge colour palettes, the designers have created something that is never static, encapsulating the multiplicity and pluralism of the arts event.
The project marks the first entirely screen-based rebrand that Mike has worked on. Nothing will be printed, as each digital element of the identity is designed to be as resourceful and accessible as possible. The website, for instance, is not just a public-facing marketing effort; it functions equally as a tool and a resource, indexing every artist that has ever been involved in the programme. “Access for all is paramount to the organisation,” says Mike. “So we made sure the website responded to this.” The text is so large that it can be read from another room and, more importantly, there are plenty more features across the identity’s various platforms that enables those who are less abled to take part in the conversation.
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