Having moved around a lot of Midwest America during his childhood, Matt Asato-Adams had to adapt to “sudden changes in information, environments, cultures, and people”. Today, it’s a skill he transfers to his practice as a graphic designer and researcher, effortlessly switching between publication design, installations, objects, and performance – his visual language changing with each medium.
Matt is currently based in Los Angeles, having recently graduated from ArtCenter College of Design. But his introduction to graphic design occurred at a much younger age while messing around with Photoshop. “I didn’t grow up with much, so having a way to make something out of nothing, with no physical materials felt liberating,” he recalls. Having tried drawing and other forms of creative expression, he realised he “responded better to manipulating textures, colours, and language, in a digital environment, rather than a physical one.”
With a love of “old sci-fi interfaces as well book covers from Pelham, Grignani and Di Fate,” Matt’s visual language is largely influenced by this world but is none-the-less fluid. Working within a set of constraints for each project allows him to establish a structure to hold the concept together, while letting other elements and materials run wild. “I naturally gravitate towards the more abstract when it comes to my creative process,” he adds, “There’s unique freedom in this type of free fall design – finding an interesting angle, exhausting all possibilities, and not pondering too long. I try to create work that is not bound by formal aesthetics but rooted in research and meaning.”
In a recent project, proposing a fictional identity for a real conference held in the UK, Matt did exactly this. Titled Virtual Futures, the event brings together artists, designers and writers to discuss and address the influence technology has on our present and future. As the goal of the event is to connect people from a variety of disciplines and promote original thinking within a cultural space, Matt used language and typography as the basis of his identity.
Featuring an unusually-muted colour palette for a topic so often visualised through space-like neons and black, the identity is refreshing in its approach to visualising technology. “The logotype acts as a time machine or interface, marking every event from a booklet to a business card,” Matt explains. The identity also expands to cover The Salon Series, an extension of the conference held as smaller events around the world. To reflect this, Matt incorporated the “spirit of the original salons in 17th and 18th Century Europe, but filtered through a contemporary lens.”
Finally, the identity includes the Near Future Fictions Series which explores the near future through lectures with speculative fiction writers. “The series aims to cast light on how rapid technological innovations affect our lives and how science fiction can be used as a tool for navigating these effects in society and culture,” Matt tells It’s Nice That. In order to visualise this, he references the circulation of printed and digital information, “adopting the form of the book structured in volumes to represent various events.” Ultimately, what Virtual Futures demonstrates is Matt’s ability to land on a concept but, instead of getting bogged down by it, expand it and use it as a springboard to explore several visual outcomes.
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