When a friend lent Stephan Bovenschen his Yashica T4, a compact camera with a 35 mm lens, almost instantly photography became a hobby for the Aubsburg-based graphic designer. While Terry Richardson found solace in this particular camera’s ability to point and shoot celebrities up-close, Stephan, on the other hand, uses it to capture the seemingly boring or meaningless motifs of everyday life. For the photographer-cum-graphic designer, Stephan found visual harmony in the beautiful details and proportions of the mundane.
In his photography publication Dista, Stephan focuses on the hidden aesthetics that are only discovered on second glances. While its title references the word “distance”, the project has similarly grown into an all-important side project that offers some respite from Stephan’s primary graphic design practice. “I think it’s important as a designer to pursue projects outside of one’s profession," explains Stephan. “In this way, I get to clear my head, develop other ideas and views and in the best case, surprise myself in a positive way which is undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments in design.”
Dista started as a single page publication and as a way to showcase his growing interest in photography. Stephan’s hobby represents more than a bit of fun, offering a new creative outlet and an experimental platform for Stephan’s photography. He doesn’t attempt to produce the “perfect” publication, but rather, his aim for the publication lies in the expansion of ideas and the multiple interpretations of photography. Focusing loosely on the subject of corners, the first issue is pointedly different from the rest of Stephan’s work which draws from Swiss typography and grid systems. However, of course, these graphic design skills come in handy when it comes to beautifully framing the photographs on the spread of a page.
For Stephan, the theme of corners not only refers to the angles in architecture, it more broadly encompasses the idea of viewpoints. He tells It’s Nice That. “Recently, I had a conversation with a security guard who showed me that there are views that are almost maddening but in a positive way.” Visually and metaphorically, the publication explores this and in turn, it presents the designer with an “enthusiasm that is hard to describe.” Simple yet beautiful, the project embodies an experimental roughness and “a way to play with the output of a hobby” while utilising Stephan’s graphic design sensibilities.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.