For most graphic designers, their time is spent juggling both client work and self-initiated projects, with the latter often, unfortunately, taking a back seat. However, for the Utah-based designer Sam Wood it’s these personal projects that largely inform his practice. Originally from Canada, he uses graphic design as a means of experimentation and self-discovery – “it’s a chance to explore my own questions as opposed to simply answering those provided in the client’s creative brief.”
Sam, who is the co-founder of Both and who shares a workspace with Actual Source largely works across the world of print. His designs place typography at the forefront, often used in conjunction with photography, and are the result of cultivating his own methodology and aesthetic.
One result of an exercise in creating his own rules and frameworks by which to design is World Series, an ongoing volume of collaborative photography books. “Each volume involves two participants from different countries who take and exchange 15 photos with each other,” Sam begins to explain. From here, each participant takes a further 15 images, attempting to match the composition and/or subject matter of the photos they’ve just received. “The result is 30 diptychs that highlight the subtle differences and similarities of a mutually human experience,” Sam reflects.
Stating his physical environment and the people he works with as catalysts for his work, Sam also finds inspiration in the worlds of art, photography, film and books. This broad spectrum of references can be seen in Sam’s methodologies: he often also creates the content of his designs.
In his recent project The Youth of Today, Sam created a collection of essays criticising young people from 1921 to today. “Like everyone, I grew very tired of the constant obsession with the “havoc” our generation was wreaking on society,” he says, explaining his assumptions that “most of the current critiques we face are just modern variations of the same critiques every older generation makes about the youth of their day.”
As a response, Sam trawled through newspaper archives and compiled articles written about every generation in their youth, identifying common themes: selfishness, aimlessness, cynicism and upending the moral conventions of the day. His findings are presented in a type-heavy booklet with columns of text mirroring the information’s source material – newspapers.
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