3 Degrees of Inspiration: Till Gathmann, Lina Grumm & Annette Lux

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Editor’s Note: This is part 52 in an inspirational series on graphic design. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the fifty-first part in the series, featuring Weiyi Li, Benjamin Critton & Wayne Daly.

Wayne Daly is inspired by …

Till Gathmann

His work is important to me for plenty of reasons, but primarily because it is hard evidence that attention to detail rewards the reader. If you get worn out by work that is snarky, or insincere, or unmethodical, Till’s work offers relief—Teutonic resistance which is nonetheless playful and inventive without relying on cheap tricks, and keeps me coming back for more.

I discovered Till’s book on a visit to the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. I almost didn’t get it. I spotted it in an open vitrine of recent publications from the school, but it wasn’t clear how you could buy these books, and no one seemed to know, until I discovered sales were made through the school’s admin office, which I caught two minutes before early closing time on Friday. I’m glad it worked out. The two volume artist’s book is beautifully made with common boxboard and plastic covering used in unexpected combination.

Till’s typography makes this book on a work by conceptual artist Morris a pleasure to read, and nimble production makes it good to hold in the hand. It’s always near my desk, picked up every so often to re-read. I always find something new to like.

Till Gathmann is inspired by …

HIT Studio’s Lina Grumm and Annette Lux

I’ve always been at odds with contemporary typography and tried to avoid the competition of being up-to-date and fashionable, seeking my inspiration mostly from the past, looking at the shelves of second-hand book stores, admiring the consistency of modern rigorousness. Nonetheless, I have a deep love for the ephemeral phenomena of everyday life typography—a gap which is hard to bridge. This in mind, I am inspired by the work of HIT studio, founded by Lina Grumm and Annette Lux in London, and now in Berlin.


Lina Grumm’s approach, in particular, is in many ways devoted to the use of ephemeral typography within her high standards of both skill and taste. What amazes me is the way she celebrates contemporaneity without being fashionable, but setting new standards for fashion by rigorously insisting on the potential of elegance and beauty in non-professional typography, sometimes in an incredibly dry manner. This is definitely the case in this tiny book she wrote and designed.

In my feeling the omnipresent attitude, which makes her work so strong and specific, results from the candid exposure of her idiosyncrasy toward the forces of tradition and stereotypical solutions. Just look at the dot behind the capital V. In metal type this would have been impossible; in DTP times it pushes too hard to meet the standards of “good typography,” which unavoidably occupy the surfaces of neo-liberal lifestyle in our days. Thus the relation between V and dot is painful, anecdotal in a good sense (a proper Barthesian punctum), and explicitly modern in its tension between proximity and distance, all at the same time. The dot, moreover is apparently the only character in the design, which is shamefully aware of the fact that the middle-axis is disturbed. Why talk about such detail? Because idiosyncrasy is all about details and their ability to set the tone for a design, entering from the backdoor.

Idiosyncrasy in this case, luckily, is both aggressive and humorous. In a mostly subtle way design, aware of its sadistic instincts, says to content: “Look what I can do to you!” – only to then clothe it into an incredibly elegant gesture, watching how content peeps into the mirror bemused.

Tune in next time to see who’s next in the chain of inspiration.