Meet PRINT’s latest Designer of the Week, Alex Robbins, a U.K.–based graphic designer who specializes in book cover design, branding and illustration. An ADC Young Guns award winner, Robbins’ recent clients include Penguin Random House, Wired and Sunday Agency. Read on for a look at his work, as well as his thoughts on alter egos and creativity.
Name: Alex Robbins
Location: Bristol, UK
Design school attended: I studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts, London.
How would you describe your work?
Playful, eclectic, tactile, and hopefully it has some soul. I divide my time between book cover design, branding and illustration.
Where do you find inspiration?
It is important to stay curious, and l try to absorb influences from outside the design world. I particularly enjoy going to talks and learning from experts in science, technology and urbanism. I am currently living in a smaller city, and it has forced me go to a wider variety of cultural events. In larger metropolises it can be easier to fall into just one scene.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
Peter Saville‘s work for Factory Records, Elaine Lustig Cohen‘s book jackets and Keith Haring‘s visual language have long been inspirations. I recently set up an alter ego to explore new projects, and the musician Arthur Russell was a strong influence. I liked how his pseudonyms showed a different aspect of his character and how he was not tied to just one style. There is something liberating working under another name.
Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
A recent favorite would be a logo treatment for Wired, which was formed out of my stationery collection. The project had a very open brief that allowed me to explore new materials. I created the logotype by color-coordinating the stationery and then painstakingly moved each item to create the letters. The process involved sharpening down pencils and selecting pens to fit the spaces perfectly.
Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
An infographic assignment for MIT proved to be tricky. The project combined photography with hand-painted infographics for a feature on the future of food. It was really difficult to achieve the desired sketchbook aesthetic whilst also conveying the data accurately. Hopefully l achieved a good balance.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I want to learn new skills, collaborate more and to put it rather simply, get better.
What’s your best advice for designers today?
Stay humble and help younger creatives. I found it really tough to break into the industry, and l think designers need to make time for students. It can be mutually beneficial as you get to speak with younger people that have a different perspective.
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