Illustration for Precog Magazine, 2018

The Original Q&A from My November 2019 It’s Nice That Profile

Sally Thurer
Nov 11 · 5 min read

Last week, It’s Nice That interviewed me about my practice for a small feature on their site. I expected them to publish the Q&A verbatim, but instead, they ran a written profile. Many of my ideas and attitudes about design got lost in this translation, so for the sake of transparency, I’m publishing the original Q&A here. I’ve made a few slight alterations and updates.

Tell me a bit about you — where you’re from/based.
I’m from Boston. I live in Brooklyn.

What you’re currently doing?
Drinking tea, answering some questions and helping my friend Keri find the counterfeit bag she wants on Aliexpress.

Why did you decide to be a graphic designer?
My mom suggested it. I think she read an article about Tibor Kalman and thought he was cool. She mailed me a book about him my senior year of college.

How did you first get into design and illustration?
Pirating software and fonts.

What attracted you to it over other creative media?
It was something I could do with all the software and fonts. I wanted to be a music video director or a photographer, but making images and websites was something I could do on my own. For a while, I had a popular website about Björk which I would redesign top-to-bottom every couple of months. I was also interested in scanning images out of magazines and removing all the type — excavating them from layouts. Perhaps I was initially repelled by graphic design because I was doing a sort-of reverse graphic design. It got in the way of the images.

How do you feel like your practice has evolved in the past decade?
I use fewer typefaces and a lot more green. I also have a much stronger grasp on my process and how my work functions formally and critically because I went to grad school.

Visual identity and graphics for MTV No Chill, 2015

Are there certain aspects of graphic design that excite you the most? Graphic design is a piece of a much larger puzzle. Culture is what excites me. Recently I’ve been interested in newmodels.io, Red Scare, Hans Christian Andersen, James Bridle, Adam Curtis, William Morris, I Ching and Brad Troemel’s Instagram.

How would you describe your creative practice?
I teach a lot. I make graphic design, illustration, and motion graphics. Sometimes I do fun small projects with cool people like Mmuseumm, Boot Boyz Biz, TXTbooks, Precog, and Civilization (download PDF).

The Legacy of the Body Bottle, Mmuseumm, 2016

How would you describe the projects you like to work on?
A few years ago a began working with tools that allowed me to digitally replicate the chrome look of Hajime Soryama’s sexy robots. I’ve always really loved his work and my favorite projects are the ones where I can use that chrome effect. I think it looks really cool.

I’d love to do more print design. I miss making magazines. Whenever I see a cool new typeface or look at Chris Maggio’s Instagram, I feel nostalgic for Mass Appeal and Missbehave.

Would you say you have a signature visual language or pattern of concepts, if so, how would you describe this?
Pink and purple hands. Slime. Blobbylize. Sexy robots. Chrome.

Could you tell me in detail about three recent works of yours? What were they for? What aesthetic or conceptual decisions did you make?
1. The illustrations I did for SSENSE are pretty nice. Ghesquière’s most recent collection for Louis Vuitton is inspired by the Pompidou so the illustrations were a mix of Pompidou pipes and iconic Louis Vuitton collaborations. I made an alphabet with letters inspired by Calder, Gehry, Kusama, and Murakami.

Illustrations for SSENSE, 2019

2. I’m working on a new edition of my Restoration Reader for TXTbooks. It started as a simple photocopied zine (download PDF) inspired by a ridiculous video that Restoration Hardware posted on YouTube. I also did a podcast episode (download) about it with Talk Magazine. Since the TXTbooks team is really great at doing four-color Riso, I’m designing a new cover for it with an illustration of the Venus de Milo holding an enormous RH catalog. Hopefully, that will come out soon.

3. Since 2014 I’ve been running an Instagram account called Bootlegwiki which functions as a casual research project and an informal platform for discourse on appropriation, and piracy. I love knock-offs and bootlegs. I wear a lot of Zara. My account is pretty much the opposite of Diet Prada.

Illustration for MIT Technology Review, 2019
Visual identity for MTV News, 2015
Illustration and Art direction for Bloomberg Businessweek, 2017
T-shirt collab with Boot Boyz Biz, 2018 and zine for TXTBooks, 2019 (download PDF)
Illustration for Loss, 2017
MoMA PS1 Halloween Party Invite, 2018
The New York Times Magazine, 2016
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