Nejc Prah might still be working in the creative team at Bloomberg Businessweek, but the Slovenian-born, New York-based graphic designer and 2017 Ones To Watch is prolific in his personal projects.
While vibrant colours and disruptive patterns continue to define his work, since last year Nejc tells us that he has moved away from illustration, using photography and collage in most of his projects in collaboration with a photographer friend Klemen Ilovar. “He’s a Rietveld graduate and currently lives in Amsterdam, so working on such a long distance is hard sometimes, but we now collaborate on almost every project I get my hands on,” Nejc tells us.
We asked the graphic designer to talk us through a selection of his most recent projects.
I’m working on an identity for Tresk, a small music festival in Slovenia. It’s really simple and organised by Radio Študent, one of the older independent radio stations in Europe (so they say). Earplugs are about blocking sounds, which I thought was funny, but lots of people wear earplugs when they go see music shows. For some reason, they come in countless different shapes and colours, so there wasn’t much design work needed once I had them photographed. If you try to buy earplugs on the U-Line website, they are all photographed [by Caroline Tompkins] on a vivid blue background, so I kept that look. The identity now works as gradient, going from really simple items with a single word and an earplug (like a sticker), to more complex compositions on various posters.
I got one of the TDC Tokyo prizes again and went to Tokyo to pick it up, and also gave a lecture about the project. It was for a poster series Koordinate Zvoka, a series of music events in Ljubljana organised by Ziga Murko. The same series also got the Grand Prix at the Slovenian Biennial later in October. My friend Klemen did a lot of photos for it so he came to Japan as well. We finished the series in the summer and started a new one now, four posters so far. The old one was about vacation, this one is about oranges.
Orange is a great piece of design. It has an elegant shape (organic round), colour (orange) and texture. The skin functions as a protective layer, smells good and is full of oils. Once you peel it, the inside is sectioned into small portions which makes it easy to eat and share. It is sweet, juicy and healthy. These are many and promising virtues, and while an average orange can achieve most of the standards, it rarely meets all of them. The oranges we currently have at work are really good looking, tasty and fresh, but really hard to peel. We’ll be making a few more of these in the months to come.
I’m trying to keep the series simple and clean, with a single line of type, top or bottom. I think a lot of old-school poster designers treated type that way, pushing it to the edge and letting the image take centre stage.
Fotopub 2017 Catalog
Fotopub 2017 Catalog came out a few weeks ago. It’s a photography festival in Slovenia and I’ve been working on their Identity for the last four years. This year, it’s was vaguely about Harry Potter. I made a diagram in the catalog that explains how the identity evolved in the last four years and why it all makes sense. Otherwise, it’s a really long story.
I made a seven page feature “What is paradise” for The Fader this fall. They asked various people about what paradise means to them, and I had to lay it all out in 3 spreads. They told me to avoid palm trees and all the classic paradise depictions, so I kept it really abstract. After laying the type, I added lots of doodles, functioning like colourful extensions of energy channels for positive faith to go from my mind right onto the layout, and from the layout back into the reader’s brain.
I’m also working on an identity for Axis Mundi, a Brighton-based semiotics studio. We’ve centered it around five objects: wood, rock, dough, a banana and powder. I saw those objects as simple objects that don’t really have any specific use but all have lots of potential to be something else at some point — symbols that are a bit more vague but still memorable. I worked with Klemen on this one too, since I didn’t want the symbols to be made into icons or logos I kept the identity closer to still life photography.
We kicked it off with a poster and a moving image on the website, just to set the tone and make the news that a new studio is coming. Tilen Sepič worked on the videos of animated objects and i put them together into a looping video for the website. Klemen was in Slovenia when shooting this, so he found the stone, which we then had to ship to Berlin, where Tilen is based. Phase two of the identity is coming in a few weeks. Watch the video here.