Last year, Utrecht-based designer Mischa Appel caught our eye with his graduate project This is Where You End – a series comprising 15 A1 posters on the topic of post-truth and modern day issues. Since then, Mischa has kept himself busy building his own creative practice, refining his style and working with designers, as well as taking on a variety of commercial and artistic projects, and accepting assignments from across the field. “I really enjoy working with people from all different fields of expertise,” he says, “and having to figure out every time how my thinking on design can relate to their needs.”
One notable project is a commission from Sandra Kassenaar, the designer of MacGuffin magazine, that saw them work together on several spreads for the seventh issue, The Trousers. The end result was a formulaic and yet entirely creative take on editorial design, where photography and methodical templates come infused with a clear font and structural output. Elsewhere, a few months ago Mischa was asked by the Dutch Ministry of Education to create a series of works to be displayed in the head office – “they told me that they really enjoyed the energy and vividness of my graduation project,” he says. “I wanted to recreate these qualities while also creating something entirely new.” Thus, Mischa applied this search for freedom into his design and ended up producing a series of three A0 risoprints, titled DUO/ERA, consisting of eight A1 prints that are taped together.
While scrolling through the designer’s client list, you’ll come across the likes of Somesuch, ACED, Centraal Museum Utrecht, EKKO, Fontanel, Kapitaal and VPRO. But that’s not all – Mischa also worked on a fantastic project that saw him design the promotional video graphics for the Spice Girls Tour. Yes, Spice Girls. “Last year, I had many different jobs coming my way, but this one is by far the craziest to date,” he tells It’s Nice That. “The final product does not really align with what I aim to make as a designer, but I do mention them in my client list because this type of client is out of this world for a recent graduate like myself. For me, this represents the unpredictability that you face when starting up your own design practice. I’ve gotten a lot of surprising requests by clients that I can only dream about, so I guess that the key is to just push what you believe to be good, and eventually the right people will get on board and work with you.”
Over the course of a year, Mischa tells us how his style and taste hasn’t changed, but that he’s become way more critical of the work that he puts out there. “I’m more aware of how and when this visual approach will benefit a design or project, and when it won’t. Hence I would characterise my work as modestly experimental,” he says. “It can be funky and design decisions can be based upon a feeling, but will always be placed in a controlled and structured environment.” The typography used within his work is one that’s “rarely weird and wobbly”, instead navigating towards a straight sans serif, such as Neue Haas Grotesk, which Mischa describes as “boring but beautiful”.
Alongside teaching typography at the school in which he graduated, Mischa has also been working on a project about “authenticity and integrity” in the age of fast Instagram design, and is the co-founder of a design collective called WHATCHAMACALLIT – working across graphic design, clothing, events and raves in local clubs. “But overall I’m mostly trying to direct my own design career,” he says. “I’m always looking to work with interesting designers and clients, while simultaneously getting to define how I, as a designer, can relate to the graphic design field.”
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.