Philosophy of a Graphic Designer
‘Gex’ AKA Genis Carreras: Interview with a recent design graduate.
Upon seeing Genís Carreras’ clean-cut, understated yet stylish attire and mien in the sunny warmth of Exmouth Market, it was evident that his entire being encompassed his vision and graphic style of “simple is the new clever”.
Having discovered his Philographics poster series on a regular trawl through Twitter, intrigued by his website-portfolio, and subsequently discovering that he currently works in London, it was only too obvious that seeking to meet ‘Gex’ – aka Genís Carreras – was imperative. When asked about his alias, it became clear that it was not a geeky moniker in response to the 90s videogame, ‘Gex’, but simply evolved out of the similarity with his name – short and catchy. Starting with his caricature drawings at school, it took the form of his “artistic name” when he started doing graphic design.
Although his interest began with video and film, on studying multimedia design at university in Gerona, Spain, he realised that essentially, design was his passion. “I started with animation, interaction design like websites and that kind of thing. And little by little, I turned to print design and graphic design. It was here, in the UK…[that] I just focused on graphic design,” when spending the last year of the course in Northampton studying Graphic Communication.
So how and why did he end up in London? “When I finished my second degree in the UK, it was clear to me that I should move here, to London – it’s where all the industry is and there are a lot of good designers. Basically, I came here to keep learning.” Even before he started sending out CVs and Philographics postcards in “nice envelopes” to London agencies in July, Mint Digital approached him having seen his work online. “It was my first interview in the industry. The offer was an internship to explore physical objects connected to the web. It sounded pretty interesting to me, as it was a new input to learn. I’m working with a bunch of very talented people and I’m really enjoying it.” Evidently, getting work is maybe not so hard if you have talent…and a little luck added.
As for the actual works that gained him the internship and likely his key into the world of graphic design, it is clear that Philographics captured his passion for simplicity, as well as for philosophy – indeed, he joked: “If I hadn’t chosen a career in design, maybe I would have studied philosophy or sociology.” The final year project of 24 posters depicting different philosophical movements were Genís’ means of transforming a field that “seems boring, complicated and inaccessible into something more attractive, fresh and simple, explaining the complex theories using only geometry and colour,” which, in his words, are “the most basic expressions of graphic design”. For him, the decisions involving both tone and shape for each poster were “instinctive” as well as there being “a whole rationalisation behind it”.
Originally, the posters were absent of colour, the first two – Determinism and Freewill – were in monochrome. However: “The more posters I designed, the more I needed to contrast them. I think colour helped me to make the difference between the theories [more pronounced].“ His concurrent dissertation on colour helped with the process, he explained: “I was sure, for instance, that Empiricism should be some organic colour, like green, or that Idealism should be related to the colour of passion.”
Indubitably, his desire for minimalism, and vision of depicting everything in its most fundamental form is, in itself, something engrained within him. And unsurprisingly too, with inspirations coming from, and attractions to the works of the 1950s Swiss International Style figures such as Wim Crouwell and Muller-Brockmann; as well as contemporary designers like Noma Bar (exhibiting at this year’s London Design Week) and Olly Moss. Indeed, Genís’ own advice for students with interests in design has the underlying message that clarity and good design comes with simplicity. “I think both artists and designers have to be sincere in what they’re trying to communicate with their work and should try not to be another person.” “Some other designers just try to make things look more sophisticated by overcomplicating them. I like to think that simple is the new clever, in the way that you can explain a lot with simplicity.”
Likewise, his idea (arising in response to a brief for a typography lecture) of inverting the typeface Comic Sans – the one we all (should) know to be a typography faux pas – rested on the goal of “stay[ing] away, way away, from that typeface” and rather focusing on something “more abstract using the geometric shapes of its negative space.” Thus creating Opposite Sans. Again, his philosophy of simplicity underlay this new typeface; contrary to Comic Sans, which “tries to be funny, too personal and subjective,” Genís believes that “a typeface in writing is the same as the voice in speech – it should be more neutral.” Fundamentally, the words should have more of an impact than the mode in which it is brought to the senses.
With Genís’ works covering both personal projects as well as product designs e.g. Boost and Hardy’s Wine, the question arises as to whether he sees himself as more of a graphic designer or rather an ‘artist’. Indeed, it was Philographics – a project shaped by his own interests – that has caught people’s eyes more than anything. Chuckling – “I like this question” – he replied: “It’s so hard to put a label on things…if you had asked me this question three months ago…I would have said: “I am a graphic designer,” because I studied for the purpose of communicating through graphics. But right now, I am a bit confused about the frontier between visual artist and a graphic designer who creates something like Philographics. So…I don’t know, I don’t know what I should put now.” Nevertheless, he admitted: “I’m getting closer – and the kind of project that I really enjoy doing – is getting closer to the label of visual artist rather than branding or packaging designer.”
Follow Genís Carreras on Twitter @gex00, or visit his site www.geniscarreras.com.
To see the full interview transcript, go to the Arts section in Play at www.london-student.net.