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Punk Yet Peaceful Positivity—the Secret to Ethical Design?
Art director and graphic designer Marius Jopen’s work first came to me in the form of a quote from H. G. Wells, written in an off-kilter, cursive style with thick black Sharpie. It was hung on the door of my co-working studio, where he was set up for a brief stint. “More than machinery, we need humanity, more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness,” it read.
This hand-written style is a signature of his, appearing across the board on identities and posters that he penned throughout his time working for Mirko Borsche and Stefan Sagmeister. It continues to be a staple, featuring throughout the continual scroll of the young designer’s website and on his work for cultural clients in Berlin and Amsterdam. Having worked for two of Germany’s most in-demand designers and having recently garnered attention as a finalist for the Dutch Design Awards’ young designer category, starting his own studio is the logical next step for the 2014 Rietveld Academy graduate.
I’m not one for inspirational design quotes by any means, but this wasn’t what his Welles poster was; the scruffiness of Jopen’s style makes it seem punk, not twee. It has the same effect on client work. For a recent campaign and identity system for the Rotterdam museum Het Nieuwe Institute’s The Body exhibition, Jopen, in collaboration with Berlin-based designer Max Kuwertz, created a system in which clean grids collide with scrawled felt-tip pen.
While studying in Amsterdam, Jopen began a project akin to the Daily Drop Cap or poster-a-day craze that has become an almost compulsory exercise for students. For almost two years he created a poster reflecting on the news headlines, printing out a grid he’d put together on InDesign and scrawling across it in felt-tip pen, collaging and illustrating to articulate complex issues with striking simplicity. Eventually he found the routine frustrating, feeling as if he was participating in a merry-go-round of negative news.
Perhaps as an antidote to submerging himself in daily disasters, around the same time Jopen co-founded The Love Foundation. The open network of students and artists raises money by putting on music nights, using the profits to provide clean drinking water for people in the Busia region of Kenya. Instead of invoking guilt through distressing imagery, Jopen—in line with the sweeping positive news movement—believes design with an optimistic message creates a conducive atmosphere for social causes. In order to connect all members of the foundation together (which now has branches in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Perth, and Santa Cruz, California), he designed a “Love Logo” of two interlocking rings that have become the only recurring motif for the posters promoting events.
This is what Jopen’s work does—it elevates—but its aesthetic is wild, quick, and cut-and-paste enough, so that there’s nothing too sentimental about it. It’s vital to consider the role of ethics for contemporary graphic designers, an area often over looked, and to highlight who is using their skills for ideological or political purposes. Jopen’s approach—as symbolised in that small act of tacking a Welles quote to a door—is one that communicates heart and heft.
By Madeleine MorleyNovember 18, 2016
Since graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2014, graphic designer Marius Jopen has established a considerable portfolio. His work is diverse and unites various disciplines: from graphic design to charitable strategies, and from logos to exhibition design. With his daily poster series he displays his vision of graphic design and illustration and he also adopts the role of journalist. He has taught himself many of the techniques that he employs. His work constantly races between cheeky, lovely, uncomfortable, ironic, unpolished and intelligent observations.
Marius Jopen has developed his own recognisable style, in a relatively short space of time and with well thought-out typography. Jopen is a prototypical exponent of the wider trend of graphic designers expanding their field of activity. Through the interplay of typefaces, typography and handwritten ‘writing on the wall’, Jopen manages to provide his own engaged interpretation here. With a post-punk-like signature he illustrates the news with raw word and image jokes. His rough handwriting is loaded with a beauty and playfulness that really appeals to the committee.
Jury Dutch Design Awards 2017
Poster Diary by Marius Jopen
Poster Diary is a self-initiated project by Amsterdam-based art director and graphic designer Marius Jopen who has been creating a vast collection of posters produced as a visual response to a segment from the daily news. This project serves as a contemporary witness that visualises events happening in all corners of the globe, covering international topics and issues ranging from business, science, politics to culture.
Jopen has recently released his latest publication entitled ‘The 2013 Times’ which is a compilation of posters produced last year. We urge you to take time and check his website where you can enjoy his splendid archive of craft posters in close-up.
Entry by Anna ChayasatitNovember 24, 2014