The next industry talk was by Luton born Graphic Designer Jonathan Barnbrook. Jonathan started off his talk by giving us a useful and positive piece of advice: Getting a job is not all about your CV its about your portfolio and your personality.

He followed this up by introducing his company Barnbrook where he currently employs 6 other people, one of those being a student intern. They create graphics for a range of different companies.

Jonathan worked with David Bowie for 15 years, he described them as having an excellent working relationship. Jonathan had always been a fan of Bowie’s music and he says that is fundamental for creating great work, having an interest in who or what you are working with. The direct working relationship he had with Bowie inspired great work that both artist and client appreciated. Jonathan worked on Bowie’s last album Black Star, the “logo” is a simple black star which can be viewed through all different browsers and platforms. This symbol is repeated on the album cover which is a black star and the name Bowie written with different sections of the star. This was the same on the vinyl cover where all the graphics are black upon black. This includes the album leaflet where lyrics are written in star constellations and contains pictures of Bowie taken by his photographer.

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Jonathan explained simplicity goes a long way. As a graphic designer sometimes it is braver to be simple rather than create something that gives away the whole message at a first glance.

The next project he spoke about was his work in Dismaland. With his company he created a bus that was spray painted black and contained an exhibition called Cruel Designs. Cruel Designs looks at hostile architecture that looks at crowd control and how people are using architecture to stop some people getting shelter and warmth. It also looks at political players within this. Whilst Dismaland was taking place, Jonathan was also working on a Stop the Arms fair movement which made posters that were placed around London.

Disobedient Object is an exhibition that took place at the V&A. Jonathan designed the 2D graphics at the entrance and the entrance sign that was made from materials from protest camps. He also created the posters that made a reference to “How to guides”, for example a home made gas masks from empty plastic bottles.


Jonathan’s company also do all the branding and advertising for Art Basel, a renowned art fair that takes place in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami. This is a way in which Jonathan makes his money.

Finally Jonathan spoke to us about typography and typefaces. Typography is fundamental for a graphic designer and attention to detail is crucial. He explained three main stages of type: 1. An expression of font 2. To improve society and 3. To create beauty. Jonathan’s first font is called Bastard and makes reference to a gothic style. His most famous font is called Mason and was used on Harry Potter, Snow White, The Sims and The Golden Compass.

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Jonathan’s talk was very engaging. Even from the off I did not feel as if he spoke to us as students but as creators just like him. He has worked on some amazing projects that all appeal to me, even though I do not come from a Graphic Design background. I thought it was great how he is behind a lot of projects that we just take for granted, this is particularly pertinent in the font Mason, which I recognised however could not place at a first glance. However it has been used in so many different pop culture phenomenons and become so well known but I would not know who made it without this talk. This was an excellent talk by a keen and humble graphic designer!


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