Thomas Wang’s ‘The Most Beautiful Hell In The World’ Proves That Oddness Is Goodness

Posted inGraphic Design
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Thomas Wang set out to document the works he created while getting his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art with The Most Beautiful Hell in the World. Throughout the beautifully whimsical pages, you'll find proof of his philosophies, discoveries, conflicts, and truths. Thomas's intentions of this book were to be free of judgments and free of rules, allowing him to create this playground of design.

There are unique pairings of colors and gradients, typography that's so freeform it looks as if it could jump from the pages, and unexpected illustrations throughout the book's entirety. It's clear that this book was designed with experimentation in mind, and the way the pages are each so unique makes the design of this book so strongly executed, further proving that sometimes we need to let go of the rules and see what's just beyond our own unspoken and set limitations.

This book is about what I did at Cranbrook Academy of Art and a collection of my thoughts, struggles, and breakthroughs. Cranbrook is where I got my MFA, and it forced me to abandon everything I learned before and explore and reconstruct everything from scratch. This heuristic study asks to do the exact opposite of what you did before (From Swiss Design to unknown territory). I never imagined I would use painting, illustration, and motion as a vehicle to explore my unique graphic design voice, but I did it. Especially at the beginning of the first semester when I swore to my mentor, Elliot Earls, that I would never practice art at Cranbrook :)

That's how I chose the name of the book. Cranbrook is hell, but a beautiful one— It's a painful place, but you still want more from it.

For this book, no rule, no client, no judgment, it was also another playground for me to expand my design language. The design needs to be bold but not too wild, and it needs to maintain legibility. By playing with the leading and kerning, the simple sans and serif letterforms create an unexpected result. With just the proper contrast, the serif typeface (Apoc) makes the body texts easy to read and exciting details when applied as a display font.

The book is based on the regular three-column girds, but it could provide unlimited potential for every page. Upside-down page numbers, Vibrant color gradients, and complementary colors deliver a unique personality and a smooth transition from page to page. Sometimes oddness is the goodness. The whimsical graphics, shapes are all from my daily experiment and painting elements, and they appear everywhere. Illustrations and geometric figures, happy and sad faces are applied simultaneously to activate the whole layout and create visual interest points.