Can anybody explain the current publishing drive to assess the state of graphic design? Among those vying for top spot in Magma’s window is Taschen’s international mega-showcase, Contemporary Graphic Design, by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, which profiles the great and the good. Most inclusions appear reassuring rather than surprising, yet with plentiful work by the likes of Experimental Jetset, Fernando Gutiérrez and Vince Frost, there has barely been time to digest its rich pickings over the summer before this new shipment hits the bookshelves.
New for autumn, weighing in with Graphic Design: A New History (Laurence King), Stephen J Eskilson provides a weighty scholarly assessment from the campus of Illinois University. It suggests we are still deeply involved in weighing up the social and artistic contribution graphic designers are making to our rapidly digitising and commercialising world. Yet is it time these titles made a play for more mainstream artistic acknowledgement?
Perhaps the most intriguing – and even useful – new title is One Hundred at 360º: Graphic Design’s New Global Generation (Laurence King), published this week. To deconstruct, Liz Farrelly and Mike Dorrian present a round ton of artists, practitioners and experimenters from all over the world (360 degrees – get it?), who have all set up in the 21st century, hence fulfilling the ‘new’ tag beloved of editors. There’s not much narrative here, just a well-edited selection of work by a roster of unfamiliar faces, acting as any good source book should with a handy directory of brief biographical and contact details.
This book merely gives an insight into a world already accessible to each of us via the Internet. Yet it comes packaged in that old- fashioned format which, despite the tectonic changes affecting graphic design, remains as functional as ever. It certainly does the hard work for us, delivering design across the visual spectrum and from some unexpected corners, including the four selected here.
Siggi Eggertsson, aka Vanillusaft, creates mesmerizing, candified illustrations, bursting with vibrant colour in busily contrasting curves and patterns. His pictures are worked out using graph paper, so there is a well-ordered geometry to their sumptuous richness. Eggertsson’s prints have much in common with folky textile design, yet his style is capable of rendering a basketball player or an urban scene from Berlin as effectively as a fairytale wolf. He creates prints, textiles, illustrations and typography in his trademark style that has eccentric undercurrents reminiscent of Iceland’s other artistic output.
Farhad Fozouni (Iran)
Farhad Fozouni graduated from the Iranian capital’s Azad University, and has remained working in Tehran since. Due to the country’s difficult political climate, graphic design is a small industry, yet Fozouni produces posters, magazines, identities and motion graphics for publishers, festivals and TV shows. His poster for the Tehran Experimental Orchestra uses a photo of telephone lines as a stave, with a pair of abandoned trainers as the notes.
The Mighty (Serbia and Montenegro)
Proving that the taste for easily pronounceable aliases crosses international boundaries, Aleksandar Macasev goes by the moniker The Mighty. Based in the city of Belgrade, he is engaged in international writing and teaching. His graphic work is challenging, political and often uncomfortable. Family Portrait addresses the realities of the relationship between mother and child. For another poster, common logos and pictograms from contemporary media and brands are used to form a chilling portrait of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda.
Miguel Vásquez is Masa: graphic designer, illustrator, muralist, art director and motion graphics producer, based in Caracas, Venezuela. Since graduating in 1999 in the city, he rose to fame by editing Latino in 2002, a showcase of Latin American graphic design, and has since worked for global clients across the world. For the launch of Volkswagen’s Fox car, he transformed hotel rooms in Copenhagen into crazy backdrops of murals and weird props. Distinctive illustrations of Wayne Rooney, Robinho and Ronaldinho were produced for a set of T-shirts for Nike. His style draws on both the folklore and urban street art of his country.