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Work / Graphic Design

Discover Harvard student Mindy Seu’s research-focused design practice

The graphic design practice of Harvard student Mindy Seu is steeped in research. Her projects always have a large backstory to them and regularly see the designer diving deep into the archives of the discipline, particularly translating analogue materials to digital, visually represented with her interest in “kinetic typography, computational poetry, and interface aesthetics”.

Currently at Harvard’s graduate school of design, Mindy is studying a masters concentrating on art, design and the public domain. The latter explains Mindy’s design approach entirely, as it appears the end goal is always to share what she’s found. This is evident in the designer’s archival art practice, particularly her work cataloguing “comprehensive online archives for the 1960s publications Avant Garde and Eros with the Herb Lubalin Study Center,” she tells It’s Nice That. “After finding and collecting every issue of Avant Garde magazine, I initiated the project by sketching the site and presenting it to Alexander Tochilovsky of the Herb Lubalin Center Study, who gave permission to release.”

The result is a pair of incredibly comprehensive sites, developed by Jon Gacnik, separately presenting both Avant Garde and Eros*. Designed between the 1960s and 70s by Herb Lubalin and created by Ralph Ginzburg, “an eager and zealous publisher,” the magazines paved the way for graphic design doing things differently, and Mindy’s research tells you how digestibly, championing Herb’s design at the forefront.

Mindy’s ability to pinpoint something interesting and visualise it for everyone to discover spreads to poetry too. Within Sweetheart Sweetheart the designer digitised Emmett Williams concrete poem from 1968, building a site that uses your cursor to navigate the text. “Moving from right to left, the first portion is a narrative erotic poem, while the second half displays a kinetic animation,” she explains.

“Pedagogy is also an important element in my practice,” Mindy points out. Relaying her theoretical concepts through teaching offers the designer an opportunity to talk through her work. This includes holding workshops “on archival art, bots and automation, and digital poetry at the Internet Archive, Northeastern, Berkley Art Museum and A-B-Z-TXT in Toronto, among others,” she tells It’s Nice That.

Collaboration goes hand in hand with Mindy’s teaching, and most of her projects or workshops are often conducted with others too. The designer then visualises this part of her practice digitally, such as ASCII Town, a website documenting a workshop including “a historical overview of typewriter art, concrete poetry and ASCII art”. Participants embarked on a two and half hour drawing exercise using printable characters pieced together, which Mindy then translated into a digitally illustrated neighbourhood.

A further example of Mindy’s fondness for collaboration can be seen in her involvement in Publication Studio San Francisco, “a laboratory for publication in its fullest sense”. Housed as a website, PSSF is “not just the production of books, but the production of a public,” says the designer. “This public, which is more than a market, is created through physical production, digital circulation and social gathering,” introducing its audience to new books or events.

Although still studying at Harvard, which we imagine is keeping her incredibly busy, Mindy is also currently working as a designer and technologist at metaLAB at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Already, Mindy has a portfolio that displays the alternate waves and methods of graphic design which influence society and we’re excited to find out what we’ll learn from her next.

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Mindy Seu: Avant Garde

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Mindy Seu: Eros

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Mindy Seu: Eros

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Mindy Seu: Eros

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Mindy Seu: Publication Studio San Francisco

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Mindy Seu: Publication Studio San Francisco

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Mindy Seu: Sweetheart Sweetheart

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Mindy Seu: Sweetheart Sweetheart

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Mindy Seu: Sweetheart Sweetheart

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Mindy Seu: Design for Net