“Graphic design is like weight training” says the Korean graphic designer Mat-Kkal. As her career builds up over time, in turn, her “design muscles” will also increase, she says. For the designer currently working in her second year of freelancing after five years in a studio environment, she believes that a steady accumulation of experience not only makes her a better designer, but also a better person.
Crediting accessibility as the core ethos of her design practice, Mat-Kkal hopes that viewers can “express impressions of the work through simple adjectives alone.” It doesn’t matter whether they’re positive or negative however, but simple is imperative. In a recent project for the Asia Culture Centre in Korea, the designer combatted the exhibition identity for its first large-scale show. Exhibiting eight years worth of work by PARKing CHANce – a collaboration between film director Park Chan-wook and contemporary artist Park Chan-kyong – Mat-Kkal’s design task presented no easy feat.
“I focused on sharing the scenes of PARKing CHAnce’s experimental works that challenge all stereotypes at the boundaries of contemporary art, tradition and genre” explains the designer on the identity. Eventually deciding to use the symbol of the Korean traditional hat, the “gat”, as the identity’s main emblem, Mat-Kkal peppered the cultural signifier throughout the identity and catalogue. Featured in the opening scene in one of the duo’s most impressive works Night Fishing, the “gat” provides the identity with an original and memorable motif representing the artists’ work.
In another exhibition identity, for the Ilmin Museum of Art, the designer draws on the environmental themes of the exhibition exploring the coexistence of the anthropocene and the ecosystem. “I compared the concept of the new geological age of the “anthropocene” to strata and resultantly mixed different textures and colours into each layer of the exhibition poster,” explains the designer.
As Mat-Kkal has evidently established herself as the forefront of exhibition design in the Korean capital, looking ahead to the future, she hopes to expand her career into other fields such as fashion, cosmetics and living brands. She looks to other prevalent female graphic designers for inspiration and hopes that one day, she can also offer opportunities to her favourite female designers, illustrators and photographers.
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