Marvin Kim‘s graphic is inspired by new ways of expression. Based in Seoul, Marvin found his way through painting and drawing as a child under his father’s influence. “Because of this, choosing graphic design as my major and my job was very natural for me,” he explains.
Currently doing an MFA at Kookmin University, Marvin’s work on the course has been looking at nonverbal communication in virtual spaces. Though, his real interest in the medium is driven by a notion famously put forward by Bruno Munari: Design as art.
“When I look for references, I would rather not look at other people’s graphic design work. Instead, I always try to find references in art or classic novels,” says graphic designer Marvin Kim. “I explore fields that are very far removed from graphic design, and art and history are endless sources of inspiration.”
Looking through Marvin’s portfolio, this inspiration becomes obvious. One project, for example, titled Type Plant, translates the form and growth of his own plants into an intriguing, illustrative typeface. Following the characteristics of the plants, each grows and morphs unpredictably, becoming less recognisable as the original letter form with each stage. Studying the behaviour of his plants and categorising them into three groups: aggressive, defensive and parasitic, he then extrapolated his findings to the English alphabet, intuitively organising each letter by their observable personalities. Finally, their growth systems were arranged using symbols, marked at the top of each letter, like identification cards.
“People usually think plants are static, but as a person who grows and observes plants, they are as dynamic as animals and humans. In the same way, I hoped that the growth of the typeface would feel equally dynamic,”Marvin Kim – “Type Plant”
Dividing the structure of each character into a head and a body, the former represents a consonant and the latter a vowel. Each character, which Marvin made from clay, grows and morphs depending on the pronunciation of the letter. If the pronunciation is soft, it has a round shape, if strong, it has a sharp shape. By showing the stages of change, viewers are able to recognise the system that dictates it. Inspired by diversity in form, a constant theme throughout Marvin’s work, he says this project was a chance to find a new way of visually expressing sound.