The influence and importance of art spans beyond the walls of galleries and the auction’s gavel. There is no industry untouched by the hand of a designer, artist, graphic designer or art director. The visual mapping of a brand or business will determine the way in which people interact with them. As artist and teacher Hans Hoffman noted, "Design is the intermediary between information and understanding."
Given this relationship between art and understanding, finding the right creative mind to shape that language is paramount. In this article, we’ll explore the work of five significant art directors and the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries.
Describing his process In his own words Timothy Luke writes, “As a method, I employ a fairly Apollonian strategy of working from first principles and avoiding analogy, in efforts to visually accelerate and signal boost.” Timothy’s work is varied, bold and unpredictable - he has worked with the likes of The New Yorker, spearheading their redesign. He was the lead designer for the 2018 F1 rebrand and developed the visual strategy for PC Music, perfectly capturing the aural essence of the musical movement.
Timothy believes that the best design is found between the boundaries of a ‘series of false binaries’, exploring the creativity that lies outside the expectations of what a designer should be.
karlifetz is “A kid from Germany, trying to do stuff.” Their work often takes the form of hyper real 3D renderings, playing on the interplay between human and digital. Often colourful, always thought provoking and unashamedly eye catching, karlifetz’s direction feels unnerving and exciting in equal measure.
There isn’t a whole lot of information about the person behind the designs, but in a recent Instagram post karlifetz wrote, “This will probably be my last post for a bit, not long but I got a big opportunity coming up that I will delve into the coming days and weeks.” We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the young creator.
A question is posed on the official website of Grotesk, the design moniker of Kimou Meyer - “How does a Swiss born, Belgian trained, graphic designer end up doing t-shirts for Spike Lee, collaborating with Bushwick graffiti vandals, and earning a Phd in vintage American sports uniforms?” The answer is by creating a distinctive, unique graphic style that feels both arrestingly contemporary and effortlessly timeless. Based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Meyer’s work has influenced a generation of underground brands whilst also delivering design for established companies such as Nike and Carhartt.
There is a measured restraint which no doubt comes from Meyer’s European training, but his style is also peppered with the brooding metropolism of New York. Speaking to The Hundreds, he described his early time in the city, “One of the first things I did was take a Gang Starr CD and I went on the Brooklyn Bridge, playing “Mass Appeal,” looking at the twins, looking at the Empire State Building, and I was just high on adrenaline, and like, wow, I’m here.”
Claire Boucher is most widely recognised from her critically acclaimed musical output as Grimes - a moniker which she no longer believes represents her. Having given herself the temporary place name c, Boucher is flexing her creative wings through a new decade. Wildly eclectic, boundlessly imaginative and firmly digital - her art direction defies the expectations of a recording artist. As is fast becoming the norm in the 21st century, c is a creative polymath - writing, producing and performing her music whilst also directing her own videos.
A visual artist before she turned her hand to music, c explored her inspirations in an interview with The Rolling Stone, “My art style is really inspired by Jack Kirby. I love how he does heavy chiaroscuro and black lines and those weird Kirby dot patterns.” Her distinctive visual direction is a collaboration with her brother Mac, who helps shape the way fans see c. “I’m not very good at keeping my brand as a unified front,” said c to The Rolling Stone, “Or maybe the brand is just chaos.”
A musician and designer based in Lexington, Kentucky, Robert Beatty has become known for his refreshingly psychedelic album covers. He digitally airbrushes the works, creating covers that feel like they fit in 21st century surroundings whilst also maintaining a tangible organicness that harks back to the advertising of the 70’s. Beatty’s album covers have been used by artists such as the Flaming Lips, Tame Impala and Real Estate. They’re mind-bending, complex and visually arresting - a rare experience given that album art is now consigned mostly to thumbnail proportions on a phone screen. Speaking to Vice, Beatty notes, “Maybe it's because I've grown to be doing what I'm doing in the era where the thumbnail is so important, but most of the artwork I'm doing is pretty direct and pretty simple so I think it works in that format anyway.” In 2017, Beatty collaborated with Giphy to create a series of glitchy, VHS processed GIFs.
Whilst they’ve been created for a digital format, to be viewed primarily on the internet, Beatty wanted to inject a sense of analog into the animations. “I'm running it through a few analog video mixers that I have so I'm actually running it out of the computer and recording it to VHS,” Beatty told Vice, “The way I work is very hands-on. I'd rather be turning a knob than clicking a mouse.”
Originals is a new article series by D’Stassi Art which will explore the relationship between pioneering creators and the industries they move in.
The D'Stassi Art Team