Words by Anthony Thomas
“The Internet creates a hub where anyone can get work up or draw inspiration from so easily. Designers seem to copy other designers rather than finding inspiration and other ideas offline,” says Brisbane-based designer, Marcus Hollands. “I look for things that I haven’t seen. When you see something that isn’t in your face everyday it stands alone, which I think is far more important than having something that blends in.”
He continues, expressing a desire to see students focus less on design as a trend and instead the ideas and processes involved. A quick browse of his Behance profile and the CIA-inspired work he created during his 2011 design education echoes this sentiment. Clean and minimalist, it gives new life to a typically mundane, process driven format cleverly leveraging the original form’s reliance on ease of information consumption. The result is practical yet inventive, our pre-programmed association with the familiar layout only adding to the design’s effectiveness.
Hollands has been working on art projects, both individual and collaborations, since high school. Though, he says his attraction to design stems from a need for stability. “Not only is art extremely competitive but you’re not guaranteed the lifestyle, regardless of if you are talented or not. Design allows me to continue my love of art but in a (different) way.”
Like all graduates, Hollands was faced with the post-graduation state of limbo after having the quasi-comfort of educational support suddenly replaced by the unnerving demands of reality. However, this period of transitioning life phases bore interesting fruit. “Students sit around bored shitless and start inventing things to do. I think boredom is a really good muse. When you’re at college you’re very much into blogs and looking around at what other people are doing. That’s how I came across FISK.” A string of emails later, Hollands found himself writing for the Californian magazine specialising in showcasing the talent of the global student creative community.
The need to maintain productivity and ensure time didn’t become lost in voids of procrastination motivated Hollands to start yet another project, this time in the form of clothing label, Styles. “I wasn’t working and I really needed something to stimulate me, so I just wrote a heap of stuff.” Oh, yeah? “My girlfriend and I used to sit around and think of strange stories and pun, really messed up scenarios, and turned them into shirts. I wasn’t looking to make money, it was just a fun project.” He isn’t lying either. The range to date is cheeky and light-hearted, omniscient of a Tim Colmant/Lazy Oaf collaboration but with a muted approach to colour. This isn’t a bad thing either.
Now working full-time for design agency, Loud and Clear, Hollands says he has been exposed to an arsenal of new applications of design principles. “We do a lot, it’s great. It’s always different and never boring.” The perfect environment for Hollands to live and breathe his love of branding and identity design. Despite the demands of professional life, Hollands continues to extend his practise with a multitude of side projects not limited to design. “I have recently started painting in my spare time. I (also) do a lot of self-initiated magazines, posters and research projects and am currently in the process of re-doing my portfolio.” This new and improved portfolio contains all the typical commercial work Hollands has completed recently but it’s the inclusion of a personal project called, Remake, that is perhaps most impressive.
“Remake is an evaluation of the cultural difference between old and remade science fiction films (and) how time has actually put them in different contexts. You can fold the images of the old and new to make new images. Also with the text, you can fold it together and it reads new lines. The outcome is by combining the old and new you can create new culturally informed characters and outcomes.
Too often designers are discounted as lacking cultural insight; those lost in creativity seem to have no time for the commercial nature of the medium. The irony of this short sighted perception of design is its failure to understand that effectively operating and conveying information in the design-space requires a strong grasp of culture, values and beliefs. “Keeping involved in art is very important. Art and culture. It brings a much broader vision to what you do. Graphic designers should dabble and be interested in as many things as possible so their ideas are very informed and meaningful.” What else is important for designers? “Being humane about what you do is very important. You need to make everyone understand, you can’t have tunnel vision. Seeing some hands went into it and that someone made it, that’s the humane aspect of design.” In Hollands’ opinion you should be able to show your mum, niece or nephew, it doesn’t matter, and they will understand what it is you’re trying to say.
With an imminent relocation to Melbourne, Brisbane loses yet another creative prodigy. While Hollands explores greener pastures down south, we will be left following his ascent via the comforting glow of our Macs. Perhaps we can find solace by clinging to the hope the new collection of Styles tees drops before ASAP…because everyone loves a going away present right?