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The Netherlands might be below sea level, but it’s pretty high up when it comes to design. Inspired by the 20th-century movements, the designs of graphic designer and illustrator Lucky Dubz Trifonas, combine future elements to revolutionise the design world today. He offers us a sneak peek into his world of design.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Real Tone Records
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Benji B.

CG: Most of your designs are built around a ‘face’. Any reason why the face is the centre of your design?

LD: Yes, The human face and body (in combination with typography) is one of the biggest challenges for me to work on. It works for me because it enables me to impart my soul into my design. The face in my work represents the human soul. I try to create the face as though staring you in the eye so that a strong connection can be established with the viewer.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Donuts
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Tribe

CG: Your designs seem to be very loud and expressive. Is that your design style? What do you always try and communicate through your designs?

LD: I used to do a lot of graffiti back in the days and the colours I use, especially the complimentary ones, descend from that era. Call it an old habit. It helps me fuse a bit of myself even in my commercial projects where I am always telling the story of the client, or the story I want him to tell. In my free work, for example, Donutboy, I like to visualise social criticism, dark humor, and rebellious yet justified views. But I also like to work with darker colours, depending on what mood I want to communicate.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Black & White
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Nouvelle Donuts

CG: What local inspirations do you incorporate in your designs? Any foreign inspirations involved?

LD: My designs are inspired by the early 20th-century movements such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, futurism, and pop art. As I mentioned above, I used to observe graffiti and street art when I was younger. I always tried not to look very deep at every work as I wanted to avoid possible unconscious rip offs. It’s important to constantly develop and evolve style with every project.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Dance Release
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Strange Fruit

CG: You seem to make extensive use of bright colours and patterns. Would your designs mean something different in black and white?

LD: Well, the concept and meaning would remain the same. However, if you remove the colour then you are removing the emotional response from it. Not to say that black and white don’t evoke any emotions. Design in black and white enables one to see the pure form without any colourful tricks or deceptions. I have recently started an illustrated black and white type project called AlphaBetty where I illustrate all 26 letters as representing a girl’s name.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Bumpeez
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Got Me Puzzled

CG: How would you describe design culture in Netherlands as compared to the rest of the world?

LD: Holland has a very high design standard. Especially when it comes to typography and graphic design. Nowadays, old fashion and the traditional forms (i.e. 20th-century) are being pushed back to make room for modern beautiful forms and shapes. You could say it’s a design revolution that’s taking place due to the multi cultural society and its diversity. Especially in Rotterdam where my studio is based.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Donutboy Worldwide. Ain’t no half steppin’
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Footstool for crazy feet

CG: As a designer, are you motivated by the past or inspired by the future? How much study goes into your designs before it actually arrives at a final stage?

LD: I always try to mix my 20th-century inspired designs with future elements to bring an eclectic mix. When creating a design, I always start at the drawing board and sketch for many hours till I find the right shape and form. This is followed by outlining the artwork and scanning it so that I can colour and trace the design on the computer. It’s a good feeling to see a handmade design with a powerful outline, especially with faces and typography.

The colouring of the artwork is the most time consuming and on an average, it takes 2 to 4 days to complete a design. For example, the cover design for this issue took me 4 days. I experimented with syrup on paper to find the right form and shape for the letter ‘g’ and redesigned it in Illustrator. The letter rests on mud and grass, accentuating its shape and representing the floating world. The letter ‘g’, which was coloured using Photoshop and Illustrator, represents the river Ganga, that is a lifeline for millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs.

LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Heartbreak
LuckyTrifonas, 20th-century
Colour the World

Published in Issue 19

A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

 

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Lucky Dubz Trifonas

A graduate from Willem de Kooning Academy, Lucky Dubz Trifonas is a Rotterdam-based illustrator and graphic designer. Known for visualising concepts into handcrafted characters, human forms and typography, he has worked for international giants like MTV, Nickelodeon, Puma among others.


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A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

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If it was only about words, we’d only need a word document. Typography is all about solving a problem by also communicating an ambience and character. “It’s about communicating a message and letterforms are our tools”, says typographer Shiva Nellaperumal. Below he explains his rules to the game from A to Z.

words
Alterneutral Manifesto/ poster.

You must know the past in order to design for future.

Design history is full of inspiration. When you’re not working, read a book or watch a movie; imbibe the visual culture through cinema, comics, music, books etc. Focus on how design has evolved, and what you can possibly bring to it next. There is a lot of value in a design that represents an era. Study the eras. A designer responds to stimuli provided by his/her environment and by analysing the past, one gets to know how other designers responded to the stimuli in their time. It’s very important for a designer to be firmly rooted in his/her time and design things that are relevant.

words
Adian Grid Specimen Poster.

Your process must be contextual to the nature of the project.

Each letter has its own semantic meaning that cannot be changed. We all know the letter ‘a’ of any typeface has a characteristic set of curves and lines. But what sets it apart is the way it is drawn. When working on letterforms, keep in mind the feel that the piece must convey. This could be very obvious or very subjective. For example, in the typographic posters for Doolally, the letters were designed to look like beer, in order to evoke the feeling of beer. But for the Public Enemy album art, a more subjective method was employed. Because their music is very harsh and represents the streets and calls for a militant action against racism, the feeling was conveyed through the use of stencil typeface that was specifically designed. The colours and composition also evoke the 80s feel which is when the album was made.

words
Struktur Construction.

A design based purely on aesthetic work is an end in itself.

Your work should serve a problem. Every design decision should be informed by whether that choice would bring you closer to communicating the message to the viewer. Of course, aesthetics are important, but not at the cost of the purpose of the design. Remember, you’re not painting scenery here but providing a creative solution. It’s not about what’s said, but how it’s said.

words
DJAD Posters

Typography’s sole purpose is to act as a vehicle for the content to be read comfortably.

But with expressive type, one has the freedom to express more meaning than just act as a carrier. It’s about communicating an ambience. It’s interesting to know that design is capable of working in subliminal ways. For example, certain typefaces when used in a certain way evoke a sense of the 70s. Design that can work in unsaid ways holds a lot of value. Try incorporating that in your design by focusing on the details rather than the bigger picture. That’s where the magic happens because the viewer understands what’s being communicated but doesn’t realise why or how!

words
Adian Grid Construction.

Design decisions are informed by the materials that can be used.

In typography, the challenge would be to pick the right typeface for a design problem, one that evokes the appropriate feeling in the user. For example, a medical journal must use a typeface that is commanding and neutral but a film poster could use a very expressive one. The basic principles of design like contrast, rhythm and balance need to be adjusted and worked on to achieve the needed feel. Type design is a craft. It is highly dependent on its production, where the technicalities must be impeccable for it to work properly. Typefaces are tools for designers. If graphic designers are architects, type designers are the ones who make the materials to be used.

words
It takes a nation of millions to hold us back by public enemy.

The greatest challenge is to push the design with technology and create work that challenges its own production.

Technology is integral to design. The aesthetics, production values and scale of a project are often heavily influenced by the technology available at the time. This sets eras apart. For example, during the letterpress era, the design was constrained by what the letterpress could do, but some of these constraints were reduced during the Photolettering era. And a whole different set of constraints were introduced when the computer became integral to design. There have always been designers who broke boundaries with the technology available like how Wolfgang Weingart did with his letterpress works or how Emigre did when computers first came out. Constraints excite the designer. A good example for this is the typeface, FF Beowulf by the guys at Letterror. It is a digital typeface that was part code and part drawing and its forms changed every time it was printed. Now with the recent advancements in type technology with open type and web fonts, it is an exciting time to be a type designer.

words
Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & the BadbSeeds.

Published in Issue 19

A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

 

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Shiva Nellaperumal

With a Masters in Graphic Design from the Maryland Institute College of Arts, Baltimore, USA, Shiva Nallaperumal designed his first typeface Struktur, which has been released by Ultra Types, Barcelona. He has worked for Grandmother India and Facebook Asia and is now interning with Pentagram.


Featured In


A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

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We’ve seen it happen in English. But typography in Indian languages and scripts is all-together a different word game. “Apart from physical differences, there are different emotions and meanings attached to different languages” says Sabareesh Ravi. Here, he tells us what key points must be kept in mind to overcome the challenges of multi-lingual typography.

Don’t only speak the languages, but also understand them.

When you’re designing using different languages, it’s important to know how people interpret each word. It’s necessary to know the culture and character of that language. A word in Hindi would have different cultural sentiments as compared to the same word written in Malayalam. Once this is accomplished, that’s when you can truly communicate using typography. At the same time, the type of script also influences your designs. For example, English has both curvaceous and sharp independent letters which make it very flexible to work with. On the other hand, Hindi is a challenge to mould because the letters are connected with a top-line.

Indian languages
JEEVICHU POTTE BAI (Let me live brother).
Indian languages
AANA (Elephant)

Symbolism makes typography universal.

Often we see foreigners with a Sanskrit or Hindi tattoo. They don’t know the language, but it’s the meaning, the essence of that word which appeals to them. These days, many of the new generation kids do not know how to write in their mother tongue. That’s when symbolism plays its role, because every child can identify an elephant or a snail.

Indian languages
VATTAM CHUTTI (had to run around a lot)

Tap the inner psychology of shapes.

Typography is like a little game of dumb charades, doesn’t matter English or Hindi. Everyone relates certain shapes and gestures to certain meanings and interpretations. It’s very important to study the subject and also how it is imprinted in the minds of people. Just like how we use spectacles to depict Mahatma Gandhi or even a hat and moustache to portray Charlie Chaplin. Typography is about exploring such characteristics of the subject and using words to give it the desired shape. Interestingly, even when you just include 60% of a shape in a particular design, the rest of the job is done by the people themselves. Leave it to the audience to connect the dots.

Indian languages
World Kidney Day -14 March 2013

And of course, make your design fun for the viewer.

Certain rules never change in typography, no matter what. People like visuals more than words. That’s the reason why typography is such an effective form of design. Because it makes the audience believe they are looking at a visual, and not really reading. The success of typography is derived using that formula. The less it appears like words, more the chances of it being appreciated and enjoyed.

Indian languages
Hug Me

Published in Issue 19

A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

 

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Kshitij Tembe reintroduces the memories of Italian films that contained the impact of World War II. Redesigning the posters of The Bicycle Thief, he attempts to replicate the vibe of that age.

Creating the set-up.

The Bicycle Thief stands as a symbol of the neo-realistic film era of Italy. Through the representation of this iconic classic, the intention was to personify that phase of time. Its no-nonsense style is what guided the poster-work, throughout. The unpretentious manner of the movie was the essence that needed to be captured in the work.

Establishing the sync.

The non-use of artificial sets peculiarly characterised the cinema of this genre. The film was instead shot at real-life locations in the midst of moderate societies. Paying attention to this simplistic quality, a minimalist and modern approach was chosen for the depiction – through elements such as the Typeface. A natural harmony thus arose between the movie and its representation.

bicycle
bicycle
bicycle

Creating the balance.

The bicycle subtly runs as a secondary ingredient, through the motion picture. Yet, even though it doesn’t announce itself, its significance cannot be undervalued. Hence, the poster gently broadcasts the bicycle as an important element in the story, without establishing its impact. It does so simultaneously while allowing the audience to connect the dots during the film.

bicycle
bicycle

Published in Issue 19

A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

 

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Sabareesh Ravi Indian languages

Sabareesh Ravi is an UI Architect, currently working for a UK based digital agency. With a Masters in Graphic Communication (UK) and over 5 years of experience in digital and web agencies, his projects have also been recognised with awards.


Featured In


A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

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Kshitij Tembe is an enthusiast of details. Focusing on aesthetics and practical application, he works on typography and branding.


Featured In


A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.

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