The world is overflowing with images that are competing for our attention. Nevertheless, sometimes you come across an image, in print or on screen, that feels truly exciting and fresh. The creative output of Alex Trochut, illustrator and graphic designer from Barcelona, is abundant with bold, striking and yet intricate images and type. His style is expressive, even flamboyant, yet controlled and clean.
A few years ago Trochut relocated to New York City, and his work is sought after. When he lists his work, music comes first. He has made album covers and gig posters for Rolling Stones, Arcade Fire, Four Tet, Vampire Weekend, Caribou among others. Editorials: New York Times, The Guardian and Creative Review. Advertising: Absolut, Converse and Adidas. Fashion: Camper, Patagonia and Ecko Enterprises.
Arcade Fire. Gig Poster
Trochut has also written a book, with a design invisible during daylight, aptly titled, More Is More. And he recently designed six hardcover science fiction and fantasy classics, published by Penguin US as a series last fall. These typographic covers are mesmerizing and they reveal, I think, something essential about Trochut’s aesthetics. I had the opportunity to ask him a few brief questions.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
– I love to play with the fine line between abstract and figurative. Letters are often my sweet spot.
You seem to have a Spanish side, a little bit of Salvador Dali, and an American side, a little bit of Saul Bass for instance. Could you please tell us a little bit about your background and how your work has developed?
– I started to work as a graphic designer around 2003, since then I’ve always loved to dive into styles, let those carry the idea throughout. I don’t have a particular method when i work, i look forward to get lost into the process, i believe it is in that state you start figuring things out and create something interesting.
More is More. Book
What are the main themes of More Is More?
– More is more is a monograph book that compiles the work done from 2003 to 2011. Dani Navarro was the one who came up with the idea, and together we divided the book in 3 parts: Inspiration, Gallery of works, and Process.
Binary Prints is a truly fascinating project. Please tell us a little bit about it.
– Following the publication of More is More, I became interested in the duality that could be represented in one two-dimensional work on paper. After some experimentation I came out with a process through which two completely separate images could be shown on one surface – one which appears in light, and one which appears only in the dark.
– What followed was a collaboration with some of the premiere electronic musicians of our time. I contacted James Murphy, Caribou, Four Tet, Damian Lazarus, Acid Pauli, John Talabot, Lucy and others to create a series of portraits that explore the people behind the music. Discussing themes of both visual and auditory natures.
Sufjan Stevens. Gig Poster
I get the impression that you really enjoy creating intricate type, almost like a graffiti writer. What makes type so fascinating?
– Text is malleable matter in constant change, always adapting to time and places. I find it fascinating that you can communicate so much just with form, without even reading the text. letter design is like non-verbal communication.
Please tell us about the Penguin Galaxy Series. It would be brilliant if you could say something both about details and the main ideas.
– The brief consisted on a strictly typographical approach, creating a consistent style throughout the whole series, from the shortest title Dune to the longest The Left Hand of Darkness. Although this wasn’t a system per se, it demanded that decisions were not made on a full custom context on each book, but thinking of them as a series.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
– The concept is based on the crash of perceptions based on behaviors, traditions, religions etc. that the book expresses in the differences between Mars and Earth. The words “Stranger in a” appear facing an opposite direction as “Strange Land”, confronting the subject and the context.
– William Gibson created the concept of “Cyberpunk”. The future that Neuromancer pictures isn’t clean or sleek, its low key and obscure, mutated into a hybridization of all kinds. The glitch aesthetics is a good way to capture this mix between human and machine, physical and digital, humanizing the machines and mechanizing humans. Making a hybrid of both. The typography has a technology nostalgia approach using the colors of an old screen.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
– Focused on Gethen (the frozen planet) and its androgynous society, these letters are duplicated and transparent, inducing to interpret as ice and the duplication of the same type of gender. On the back-cover we see the androgynous symbol.
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
– 2001: A Space Odyssey is a timeless enigma that raises questions that escape the human comprehension, therefore the front cover plays with the idea of the reader solving a game. The back-cover teases the reader even more to decipher an impossible group of modular pieces that belong to the front cover. This lettering forces the reader to solve a 2 seconds solving game, who needs to turn around the cover 90 degrees in order to read it. VVideo of sketch
Dune by Frank Herbert
– An intricate political story of emperors, dukes and barons. Futuristic but with the same ingredients of a medieval epic story. The lettering has a hint of Egyptian jewelry designs inspired by the desert. Dune is, as a word, a quite special puzzling structure of letters that allow to read 4 different characters by simply rotating 90 degrees the “D” shape. I thought this logo, in some way, speaks of the strategic nature of Arrakis, a planet where different parts intersect from different points of view and interests. This design is going to be used in the back-cover. Video of sketch.
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
– Following up with the line style, this book cover is the result of merging the line style of the collection with a medieval style lettering. The icon of the sword is on the back, appearing half of it hidden, referencing the sword in the stone.
Alex Trochut always listens to music while working. These are two of his playlists: 1 & 2.