Introduction to the 2009 New Visual Artists
It may not be obvious at first glance, but these letters are portraits of the 20 young designers under age 30 who are profiled here. As soon as we realized that the name of our annual feature—“New Visual Artists 2009”—contains exactly 20 letters, we asked each winner to pick a typeface that represented him or her. The two founders of Budor+Čule chose Bembo after a five-hour conversation with each other; the two-man studio Labour, on the other hand, picked a “big, fat megabold” dollar sign set in Normande. (Two of our winners picked Chromium One—what are the odds?) After the designers made their decisions, we asked Precision Laser owner Bud Saggal to laser-cut each letter out of a 3/4-inch thick piece of plywood. We then photographed the result.
Family is an important theme this year: The photographer Lauren Dukoff uses it as the title of her book, out this spring from Chronicle Books. Franklin Vandiver has been exposed to design all his life through his parents’ occupations; Timothy Goodman made a project in honor of a childhood mentor, moving the man to tears. Apirat Infahsaeng’s father recognized the hand of his father, who worked on Thai temples, in his son’s typography. Jacob Silberberg’s father ran a side business dealing rare Leicas, an introduction to photography that would shape a career. Nicole Jacek grew up wanting to be the boss of Mercedes-Benz, where her father works. Sveinn Davíðsson gains inspiration from a close-knit group of friends he grew up with in Iceland.
Whether they’ve ended up in New York from far-flung locales—The Philippines (Josef Reyes), Switzerland (Mato Atom)—or hail from Huntsville, Hazleton, Orlando, Fresno, or Riga, Latvia, they’ve all been molded by their histories: unique, outsized, sometimes imperfect, and exquisitely clear. Like a fine block of type.