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Artist Feature ://
Joseph Lebus
Posted October 2018

Joseph Lebus is a 24 year-old graphic designer with interests in typography, animation and editorial design. He is currently embarking on an MA in Graphic Design at the Royal College of Art. His work attempts to expand on previous studies surrounding the idea of language as a barrier to true meaning, and to bring the problem into the visual realm. By portraying type as a texture or form, he attempts to place the viewer in a position where they begin to reconsider their dialogue with language, and the processes behind this dialogue. Joseph also founded a photography-focused social enterprise called Faces In Focus, and practices documentary photography in his spare time.

Faces in Focus’, Joseph Lebus. Print and digital, 2018.

Q. Tell us about your career path, what did you study at university and what lead you to design?

I studied French and Spanish at University, which I loved. It opened up so many interesting possibilities and ways of thinking. However, as soon as I left, I quickly found a job in the financial sector which I hated. It wasn’t pushing me creatively or conceptually, which is why design began to really appeal. It’s a unique field of work which allows you to push yourself aesthetically and conceptually at the same time.

Q. When did you first notice that text, language and typography have a profound effect on you?

Due to my unconventional route into the industry, I wanted to find a way of connecting my language studies at university with more recent learnings in graphic design. I quickly realised that the problem I explored at university could be better dealt with, and even solved, in the visual realm, without having to fight language on its own terms. Instead, by actually playing with the way in which language is represented, or ‘designed’, we can attempt to create a more visceral, or emotional, form of communication between the symbol and the user.

Oval Space’, Joseph Lebus. Print and digital, 2018.  

Q. What/who/where influences your design?

The work that Spin Studio are doing, in terms of pushing ideas of readability to their limits, and experimenting with the letterform, has influenced my practice. In the same vein, I’m influenced by the work of Sacha Lobe, Paula Scher, and other individuals who question the typographic form.

Q. How does photography inform your graphic design?

My mum was a photojournalist when she was young, so ever since I was a child I have always been playing around with old film cameras. I take a Nikon FM2 with me everywhere I go. I really enjoy creating experimental editorial work using my photography as a backdrop. More and more, I am capturing interesting forms and shapes, and trying to mirror them through editorial composition and typographic work.

Brutalism’ Spreads, Joseph Lebus. Print and digital, 2018. 

Dekmantel’ Spreads, Joseph Lebus. Print and digitial, 2018. 

Q. How do you balance the use of typography and imagery in your work?

I don’t really think about it too much. I have always been interested in photography, so ideas of balance and composition have been with me since I was young. I think it’s something that just comes naturally!

Q. What projects do you most enjoy working on?

The best projects are the ones that give you freedom to think and experiment, where the client gives you the freedom to explore more challenging ideas and concepts. This always makes for more interesting and successful design. Recently, I have been working alongside Bunch and Bond, two amazing studios which have given me some great projects to work on.

Q. What was the most challenging project you've been tasked with?

The challenging projects are the ones where, due to time constraints and budget, you don’t have much time to explore around the ideas enough. These projects are difficult as it’s important to get the client what they want, produce great design, and also do it all as quickly and efficiently as possible.

‘Forme’ typeface, Joseph Lebus. Print and digital, 2018. 

Q. Do you prefer working on digital or print based projects and why?

I have been very focused on digital recently, but I love all the print projects I receive. Much like vinyl music and film photography, there is a tactile nature to print, which can’t (for now) be replicated in the digital realm.

Stevie Wonderland’, Joseph Lebus. Print and digital, 2018. 

Q. Do you have any advice for a young designer debating whether to stay as freelance or move into a design studio setting? If they are interested in the second, what's the best way to introduce your work to a design studio?
I think it’s best to try out everything, both freelance and studios, to get a feel for what you prefer. To get heard by a studio, be bold and arrange a meeting with them. The worst that can happen is they say no, but it shows you’re keen and really want that job!

︎ www.josephlebus.co.uk

︎  @josephlebus

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