Shinwoo Park has been running the graphic design studio Paperpress since 2016 in Seoul. Working across a variety of disciplines wherever graphics are concerned, from the tongue of a shoe trainer to pin badges and poster design, Paperpress locates the point where “graphic design and description overlap” to create expressive designs that suit each client.
The founding designer tells It’s Nice That, “I like starting from a clear idea when I begin work”. For Shinwoo, starting a job on a concrete subject dictates a more experimental process where he can play with various graphic compositions. Initially, Shinwoo lays out several artboards to work across, selecting a starting point that “interestingly mixes texture and colour” for the designer to probe and trial within.
Though the graphic designer does not have any particular design tastes in terms of go-to inspirations, he tends to have a formula for creating a piece of work to ensure a balance of different graphic elements. “Recently I’ve been seeking a strange combination of things,” says Shinwoo, images and pictures from a range of unexpected sources like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He goes on to say, “I am interested in a design product that results from a combination of two or more elements with different contents, shapes or colours”. Bold, graphic shapes that hark back to an 80s pop aesthetic overlap with contemporary type and a cut-out artistry to deliver Paperpress’ vintage-inspired design work.
This is distinctly visible in Shinwoo’s work for Topping, an experiential event dedicated to showcasing the work of young performers. The poster design project was an irregular circumstance in the way that the designs had to be delivered before the choreographers and subject of the event was confirmed. Through the exploration of clear keywords, Shinwoo designed the posters to illustrate a story of “body” and “motion” through graphic sensibilities. Using two axes on the page, as if it were a graph, the designer gathered a variety of materials associated with the body and motion and applied said themes on opposing axes. Then, through editing and curating these elements, Shinwoo eventually arrived upon satisfactory design outcomes which marry visualisations of body and motion together.
Additionally, Shinwoo also designed the visual identity for the exhibition Brave New World, which borrows the outlook of the Aldous Huxley novel of the same title. The designer explains how “the most important motto in the identity is the expression of inconsistency”. The futuristic novel investigates the mutual dependencies between utopia and dystopia, reflected through Paperpress’ identity that plays on two meanings of the smiley face icon. “I used the smile as a medium to voice the bright and cheerful,” Shinwoo explains of the motif whose frozen expressions simultaneously express something bleak and unsettling. “The smile is intended to be used as a path to tell inconsistency without direct exposure of anything directly threatening”, adds the designer.
The motif repeatedly appears throughout the exhibition and acts as a disconcerting, watchful presence to the viewer. What is more, the design features a psychedelic, fluorescent green ink which references soma, a hallucinogenic drink that appears in the book and adds another element of foreboding to an identity centred on inconsistency. Paperpress evidently embodies a practice full of thoughtful practicalities. Consideration of colour, technique and process mark Shinwoo’s designs, resulting in beautifully effective work as seen in each energetic composition.
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