Noah Baker on poster design and how he avoids getting “stuck in aesthetic holes”
For the New York-based designer, posters are an appealing medium because they have to communicate information: “They’re pieces of graphic design at their core, not art.”
- Roz Jones
- 26 October 2022
When we last spoke to Brooklyn-based graphic designer Noah Baker, he spoke about how he felt creatively stifled upon graduating from his university graphic design course. Like many designers facing the same issue, he decided to pursue freelance projects in the hope of finding some creative satisfaction. Since then, the designer has funnelled his vast creative experience into his own independent practice.
Noah has been steadfast about the pursuit of graphic design since switching from his art course at university. He’s worked with a raft of heavyweight designers, including Hassan Rahim and Bethany Heck, on projects ranging from film titles and visual identities to record sleeves and T-shirt design. Alongside all of this, he’s been developing a passion for posters. “What I like about designing posters is that, unlike album covers (especially album covers in the streaming world), they have to communicate information,” he says. “They can be experimental and the briefs are usually pretty open, but they’re pieces of graphic design at their core, not art.”
One recent favourite of Noah’s was the poster for musicians Avalon Emerson and Anunaku’s collaborative project A+A. Using Sudanese photographer Suleika Mueller’s images, he “superimposed one over another and the poster sort of designed itself from there (after many versions of course)”. He was equally excited by the series of posters produced for Jamie xx, a project that pushed him outside of his comfort zone. As he explains, “I wanted to make something free of textures and effects, as I had been leaning on them a bit too heavily.” It’s this unexpected blend of natural forms and tighter geometric patterns that makes his work so powerful. This tendency can be traced in Noah’s work for Jamie xx, where shapes and layouts were loosely inspired by hand-painted trucks he spotted on a recent trip to Beirut.
Noah embeds this free-flowing quality in everything he does but especially when it comes to his use of type. “Type is something I’ve always gone deep on. I try to keep an open mind and not get stuck in certain aesthetic holes,” he notes. “Recently, I’ve found myself returning to older and more classic typefaces.” In Machine Life, a poster made for New York-based Public Records, we see experimentation contrast with classic and unobtrusive type.
Now, Noah plans to be a little more selective with the projects he takes on. Through striking out on his own, he’s come to realise that he wants to prioritise the really worthwhile stuff. “It’s necessary in order to preserve time and energy for the things in work and life that matter most,” he says. Alongside his practice, Noah’s outlook as a designer has shifted too, meaning he’s now more confident with setting boundaries. “I also don’t feel as hesitant saying ‘no’ as I did a year or two ago.” With more energy going into the things that he really cares about, we can’t wait to see what Noah does next.
Noah Baker: Nowadays – Mister Sunday (Copyright © Noah Baker, 2020)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That as editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design. Feel free to get in contact with Roz about ideas you may have for stories from the Global South.