I have written before (both in pixels and print) that I am a massive fan of Tony Pritchard, his Twitter feed and the fantastic DVC (Diploma in Design for Visual Communication) post grad program he runs at the London College of Communication. So when tony messaged me to say he was going to drop something in post I was certain whatever landed in my post box would be a delight!
I was thrilled to discover the 2015 DVC monograph which is packed full of profiles of the programs best and brightest. I followed up with a few of the students to congratulate them on the outstanding work and invited them to share a little about themselves, their work and the DVC program. To kick things off I chatted with Carolina Scarpetta...
Tell us a little about yourself... I read that you realised you wanted to be a graphic designer after realising you were more concerned with typeface selection in your presentations than the content you were creating! As a typophile I can totally relate! What about Type, calligraphy and/or Lettering specifically turns you on/excites or interests you?
I’m a graphic designer with a background in Engineering and Industrial management. I switched my career one year ago by taking a Postgraduate Diploma in Design for visual Communication at LCC, and that’s when I moved to London where I’m currently based.
There’s at least a couple of reasons why typography excites me. The first one is the tipping point after which you stop reading words/letters and start seeing shapes. I like it when the line that divides typography from graphics, if it exists, starts fading and the two cross each other. Letterforms are gorgeous.
A second reason is that I think typography has something scientific. I’m fascinated by how letters work together in harmony as if they were following an algorithm. I believe that, although you are potentially free to set any value you want in typesetting, there will always be one optimal combination of values that works better for each case. Like in Operational Research, a branch of applied mathematics, there’s an optimal solution to a mathematical problem which maximize the objective function under specific constraints and conditions. From this point of view typography is a science. It’s this intrinsic complexity of typography that I like. I love complexity, it’s stimulating.
I am a fan of LCC DVC program - from which you just graduated - I think Tony and the DVC team do a great job of teaching about space and shape grammar and the caliber of work from your course is always outstanding… can you tell us about your favourite part of the course? And also you’re favourite assignment?
Tony does a great job, he’s really dedicated. His enthusiasm is overwhelming and it’s what motivate students in doing the extra mile to make a difference. My favourite part of the course was the freedom of choices. The briefs were always open to many possibilities, the only constraints were formats maybe, but not even always. It really allowed each of us to develop personal skills and interests.
Whilst the assignment I enjoyed the most was ‘Structure and the city’, for which I did the work on gasometers. The brief was to investigate structures in the city of London and to make an A3 publication, and a structure can be pretty much everything. The main aim was the use of grids in editorial design obviously. I liked it because there were also practical tasks, like going for walks in specific parts of London or visiting the Tate investigating structures, and I love wandering and getting lost with my camera.
Structure in the City project is a brilliant fusion of graphic and urban design disciplines… and demonstrates how your engineering background informs your graphic work. Can you tell us a little more about how this project came about?
In London there are dozens of gasometers, or gas holders. London is frenetic, everyone is busy, you can feel that here things happen, move. And in the middle of this fast moving vortex, there are gasometers, still, majestic, forgotten, like a snapshot from the past. To me that’s just crazy! So I wanted to do something about this contrasting concept.
On the other hand, I like them as structures. Bernd Becker, who together with his wife Hilla, has spent his entire life photographing water towers, said something which perfectly explains this fascination: ‘There is a form of architecture that consists in essence of apparatus, that has nothing to do with design, and nothing to do with architecture either. They are engineering constructions with their own aesthetic.’ It is this aesthetic that captivates me, both as an engineer and as a visual thinker.
I was excited to read about your visual exploration of mathematical concepts - maths plays a large role in my design thinking and specifically in my approach to type, lettering and my letterpress work. You have transitioned to design from engineering… Did your background in engineering influence your project Abstract mathematics? And how do you apply mathematical concepts in your design work?
I always start designing trying to set up rules, ratios, proportions and I like designs where you perceive that there’s a strong criteria behind, some kind of order, neatness. But at the same time I love when something like a detail breaks the balance.
Abstract Mathematics was like applying mathematical concepts while at the same time designing them, making explicit something I do implicitly. Although for me it’s still a struggle to find the right criteria/rules to follow when designing. Having started only one year ago, I obviously miss the experience which naturally gives you command over something, and can only be acquired with time. A bit like knowing the optimal combination of values in type setting, it’s something you learn by doing.
Since graduating you have been working at Graphicacy under the mentorship of one of your tutors what are you next steps career wise?
I actually started working while I was still studying so I’m only now understanding the next steps and acknowledging my potential. I’m also so critical about my work that it’s taking ages to put together a portfolio which I’m happy with. I’m still working at Graphicacy, but that’s temporary and will soon come to an end. At the same time I’m working on personal projects and freelancing.
However, I have got some studios in my mind that I’d like to work for as next steps. I want to learn from the best and for this reason I don’t want to rush to find a job. I also consider starting my own practice, but now it’s too early, I wouldn’t feel enough confident, I want to learn the profession and gain experience first.
How can people get in touch/connect with you?
They could drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.carolinascarpetta.com to see some of my works. I’m always on the hunt for new exciting projects!