“What I like about being a graphic designer is that you have one foot in society, and the other in contemporary art,” Utrecht-based designer Mischa Appel tells It’s Nice That. “Using both of these universes allows a designer to create communicative and artistic products. This can result in new reflections on established matters, or in new uses of existing techniques.”
Currently studying graphic design at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU), Mischa developed this approach while studying graphic design at the age of 17. “During the course of that study, I felt that graphic design should be about more than just serving a specific need from a client or product.” As a result, Mischa began to think of design as a medium that could say and do much more than this. “I wanted to be more free in choosing what my work should be about and how I want to make use of graphic design,” he explains of his decision to switch courses and apply to HKU.
Often working with print techniques such as screen printing and Risograph, Mischa’s output largely consists of posters, books and exhibitions. “I feel like the extra physical dimension gives me the opportunity to emphasise a feeling or thought that I could not have using digital media,” Mischa explains. In terms of content, “social topics and questions trigger me to create a visual representation or reaction,” he adds.
In a recent series titled This is Where You End, Mischa chose to focus on “modern-day issues like the phenomenon of post-truth and the increasing polarisation of society”. The project, which takes the format of 15 A1 posters, is about “the moment where people, consumed by their own truths and beliefs, get into conflict with others just as convinces as them that they hold the real truth”.
In order to visually embody this moment, Mischa created a visual narrative, consisting of three steps which are outlined on the first poster. From there, the series travels through various visual and conceptual ideas including a painting by Caravaggio, a quote from the documentary Restrepo and snippets from an interview with Stephen Fry about fake news.
Although Mischa’s aim was to create visually impactful content, the medium of the project was equally as important. “Each of these posters is made in an A1 format. By folding them twice I was able to get them through a Riso printer, hence the white line through the centre of each poster,” he explains. “Risographing has been around for a long time, but I felt the need to approach and use it in a new way. By using a Riso printer the posters feel more authentic and bright, and tell a narrative not only about society but also about the use of graphic design.”
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