This year’s NVA winners are as stylistically diverse and geographically scattered as any year we’ve had in the past. They are an impressive mix of influences, disciplines, and skill sets that we feel as a whole is an exciting representation of the future of design.
Michael Worthington and Yasmin Khan of Counterspace , our guest art directors for this issue, decided to break them down into five separate style categories. We present them here to you and over the course of the month will be profiling each winner and showing some of their work on Imprint. Enjoy!
Self-initiators / Critical Practitioners
These designers have practices that are informed by a mix of traditional (client-based), entrepreneurial (self-publishing, consumer goods) and fine art (residencies, curation, exhibitions) practices. This group includes the thoughtful, critical work of Zak Kyes; Brett Tabolt’s playful minimal form experiments; the loose and surreal images of Sara Cwynar; the meticulous craft of Jessica Walsh; and the low-tech vitality of Hrvoje Zivcic & Dario Devic.
Relational Aestheticists / Post-formalists
These visual artists engage in practices that forge new territory for what we identify as graphic design. The “post-formalists” are makers of whatever object, environment, or experience most effectively and appropriately addresses their audience, represented by Rafaela Drazic’s unconventional, concept driven publications and the humorous and playful work of Eric Ku. The relational aestheticists make work that is “post-object.” They apply design-based thinking to creating structures and scenarios that facilitate human interaction, as exemplified by Jeseok Yi’s provocative campaigns; Rich Watts and Louise Ma’s practical yet utopian “Trade School”; and Sarmishta Pantham’s nurturing of tradition in “Big Little Picture.”
Formalists Without Borders / Graphic Decathletes
These adept form-makers work across many platforms and mediums, and bring their skill and expertise to all of them. They are unafraid of new technology but simultaneously embrace anachronisms. A joyful energy and urgency pervades their forms, as evidenced in the eclectic work of Lazar Brodroža; the sly and irreverent designs of Dong Wei; the intellectual hippy forms of Scott Barry; and the techno-organic complexity of Angela Zhu.
Cerebral Image-makers / Deep Depictors
These illustrators demonstrate not only formal and conceptual excellence, but also explore how illustration lives in the world. Jim Tierney’s book covers intelligently encapsulate narrative through refined images and lettering; Francesco Bongiorni’s thoughtful metaphors express a wry point of view about contemporary social and political events; and Kim Dulaney’s illustrations create a lush immersive dream world.
Sightseers / New Visionists
These artists create beautiful, idiosyncratic work within traditional photographic genres. The range of interests in this dynamic group spans from the surreal materiality of Ina Jang’s portraits, to the tension between document and drama in Sean Desmond’s street images, and the faux-future vibe of Jessica Labatte’s quirky, new wave still lives.