John Pobojewski

 
Welcome to the world of
John Pobojewski, where soda cans represent biblical scripture, 3-D
furniture flies off the printed page, and catalogs automatically design
themselves.

Pobojewski, a 26-year-old, well-spoken Midwesterner,
admits the future didn’t turn out as he expected when he graduated
from Northern Illinois University in 2003. Despite dual degrees in
graphic design and music, he thought he was destined for a career as a
professional percussionist. “I’d been playing since I was
12,” he says. “Sooner or later, I assumed I’d drop
design.”

Luckily for the design community, he was scooped up by
Thirst, a studio-meets-playspace headed by the inimitable Rick
Valicenti, where Pobojewski has worked on a wildly divergent range of
projects. On one end of the spectrum, the identity for John Ronan
Architect employs simple, symmetrical bold marks that complement the
Zen-like qualities of the firm’s work. Then there’s
Turbulence, a DIY typeface that uses scribbles and doodles as building
blocks; the viewer can tinker with the settings through a custom tool in
Illustrator that generates one-of-a-kind letterforms.“I’m
always trying to maintain a human element in design,” insists
Pobojewski. “It should feel like it’s coming from a human
being.”

His personal touch is exemplified in the catalog for
Mass Modern Auction. To break up the monotony of the text, Pobojewski
showcases the collection of stylish modern chairs, tables, and home
accessories by plotting them on a fixed grid system that creates
fantastic abstract patterns. The galactic illustrations set the products
in motion, looping and swirling around as if they are about to fly off
the page. Think Jackson Pollock with a Spirograph kit.

Where others
see restrictions with design software, Pobojewski sees possibilities.
For the annual art catalog for auction house Wright, Pobojewski designed
and programmed the ingenious Automated Catalog Workflow, a system that
automatically takes care of the lackey work—generating documents,
flowing and styling text, placing art in contact sheets, updating
corrections—so that the inevitable little details won’t
devour precious creative time.

The beauty of Pobojewski’s work
stems from the way he combines complex technical systems and rigid
structures with a sense of wonder and an open mind. He focuses on the
process, not the results. “If you keep the work a little further
away than it was in school, you’re free to go in any direction the
project asks for,” he says. “You trust in the
process.” It’s as if he “plays” design like a
musician plays an instrument. In fact, his percussion quartet, Base 4,
released their first album in 2005 and are working on their
second.

Perhaps the future holds more opportunities for his two
passions to converge; his latest project, Phonic, is an interactive
typeface combining bursts of sound with abstract letterforms to create a
visual poem and symphony rolled into one. Think Brian Eno with, well,
John Pobojewski.

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