15 Artists Under 30: Griffin Funk
Deadline for entry: November 20, 2017
This is the third year we’ve run our New Visual Artists: 15 under 30 issue. What was once a highly edited list of 20 of the best and brightest young designers is now a deeper exploration of 15 of the most original talents working in visual communications today.
This issue of Print comes at an interesting time. This new group of designers, while undeniably adroit, is part of a generation fully proficient in the art of self-promotion in a digital age. Getting the word out about one’s work is now de rigueur. But at a time when new work is relentlessly blasted out on platforms where seemingly everyone in the room is shouting, is it really possible to break through the volume of voices all vying to captivate and capture attention? Moreover, in the Insta-culture of the early 21st century, how does one navigate through the metadata to find the meteoric? As in years past, that’s exactly what we’ve sought to do here. We’ve gone in quest of craft and cunning ideas and ideals. We’ve looked for substance and style and star-power. The list of Print’s New Visual Artists has become a who’s who of the industry’s leaders, and includes Scott Dadich, Eddie Opara, Alan Dye, Jessica Walsh, Jessica Hische, Frank Chimero and, more recently, Zipeng Zhu, Joe Hollier and Joey Cofone. This year’s 15 New Visual Artists are bold in name and in voice, and are bravely making new work in a new world.
Meet New Visual Artist Griffin Funk
From: Lake Oswego, OR.
Current city: New York City.
Education: University of Oregon; BA, journalism.
Earliest creative memory: One: My mom teaching me how to sew. Two: Lying on my bedroom floor drawing comics and skateboard graphics.
Path that led you to design: My path to finding design was pretty indirect, pretty roundabout. I went to journalism school in Oregon and discovered publication design there. I worked at the school newspaper as a designer and art director and worked on a couple campus magazines. I think what really set me off on magazine design specifically was finding a “Best Magazine Art Directors” list through a Google image search while in school. The list was like: Brodovitch, Lois, Fleckhause, Woodward, Baron, Brody, Carson. Ya’know? Their work felt like high art smuggled into popular culture. It was subversive and smart and provocative and it really spoke to me.
Career thus far, in a nutshell: Looking at an iMac, clicking a mouse.
Current place of work: GQ.
The key to good design: Tension between image, typography and word.
Work of which you’re most proud: I’m most proud of the feature design work I’ve done so far at GQ. It’s my favorite part of the job, it’s what first drew me to magazines and it’s what continues to excite me. GQ has been my only real job and it’s a really special place to me. It’s given me the opportunity to learn and collaborate with the best editors, art directors, photographers and illustrators in the business. … I credit my design director, Fred Woodward, for instilling a culture in the GQ art department where everything that is done, whether it be a logo for a collaboration with GAP, an opening spread for a feature in the magazine or a gif for GQ.com, is expected to be really good, and that kind of environment is super motivating. The process of coming up with a concept to art a story and seeing it come alive, and then seeing it out there in the world, is really satisfying to me. I guess my job, in a broad sense, is to help tell the story by expressing an idea through an interesting and meaningful interaction between type, image and word. I think when you get that mix right the result can be really powerful, and I think I’ve done that once or twice, and I’m proud of that.
Biggest influence: Fred Woodward. Handsdown. Period. No question about it. I started as his assistant and kinda just stuck around until he let me design features. He’s been so generous to me and I’ve learned so much from him. I didn’t go to art school, so the GQ art department has really been my art education. Fred has trusted me and elevated me and pushed me to be better, and I’m immensely thankful for that.
How you would classify your style: I would try not to.
Favorite artist: I can’t just pick one, so a few favorites are Jenny Holzer, Isamu Noguchi, Donald Judd.
Favorite typographer: Ed Ruscha.
Favorite writer: Joan Didion.
What defines you: Once got hummus on a tuxedo. That seems like a pretty good microcosm.
Cause that means the most to you: Mental and emotional health issues.
Biggest fear: Burning the roof of my mouth on the first bite of pizza. That, or dying.
What you want to accomplish before all is said and done: I want to be an honest man and liked by dogs.
Your idea of happiness: A nap.
The future of design is: Emoji Ligatures. No, I have no idea, and I think anyone who claims to know what the future of design is is probably full of it.
Meet more of PRINT’s New Visual Artists in the Fall 2017 issue of PRINT.
Get the latest issue of PRINT to discover our annual list of 15 of the best creatives today under 30. Plus …
A look at the rebranding of an old industry made anew: marijuana
A Manifesto from Scott Boylston on the dire need for sustainability in design
Paul Sahre’s memoir/monograph Two-Dimensional Man
Debbie Millman’s Design Matters: In PRINT, featuring Jonathan Selikoff
And much more!