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Work / Graphic Design

Caterina Bianchini’s “playful and charismatic” approach to graphic design

“I love looking through books: the old ones that you get for 20p from a charity shop,” says Caterina Bianchini, ex-senior designer at Boiler Room now turned freelance. With a strong eye for texture and conceptual storytelling based upon her daily findings, Caterina’s portfolio presents an abundance of technically skilled, tongue-in-cheek designs roused out of everyday influences. From posters, branding and editorials, her work identifies with an interest in materialising found objects that have been informed by her mixed cultural background.

“My family are Italian, so twice a year as a kid I travelled to my house there. I think growing up with two different cultures (Italian and Scottish) definitely made me more creative,” Caterina tells It’s Nice That. “My dad collects antiques so I have always been surrounded by interesting objects, which probably gave me an eye for design. I used to keep scrapbooks and collect stamps when I was really young, and this is the first memory I have of being drawn to print and graphic design.”

Having recently taken a leap into the freelance sphere of design, her previous ventures at Boiler Room certainly helped define and grow her style. We recently touched base with Caterina about her work for Boiler Room last December, and it was from these experiences that she managed to fully develop her understanding of type and design application. “Boiler Room was amazing for experimenting with design — I developed my typography a lot there,” she explains. “It was just me and Joe Prytherch that worked in the design department at the time, so it was really full-on and busy. This allowed me to work well under pressure with short turnarounds, which has helped with my freelance work.”

Caterina’s main source of inspiration is the work of John Baldessari and Wassily Kandinsky, mostly for their ability to allow her to “think and approach projects differently.” Other motivations stem from everyday scenarios where something unexpected will grab her attention. “Sometimes I will be in a shop and see a colour combination on packaging that I love, so I take a picture of it. I love typography, so I always notice signage,” she says. “I take a lot of pictures on my phone, so if I pass something that catches my eye — or if there’s a cool font on a sign — I just take loads of photographs!”

Her process for branded work is informed by a simple course of development, where a well-informed sketch will then evolve into a “broad” digital creation. “I always try to create something from an inspirational concept rather than a basic concept. So this usually means I try to understand the brand and the forms or graphics that sit within it,” says Caterina. “I think more about textural territories and conceptual stories that can then be used across the brand world and built into the marketing…I try to keep it quite broad.”

In terms of poster work and illustration, she tends to steer towards a more “playful and charismatic” passage that fully allows the viewer to evoke a sense of fun and enjoyment from the imagery. “I love working on this style of work as I feel like it’s a true creative expression of my ideas in that moment. I draw out my typography and try and include little design motifs that give the posters an extra layer of interest…but the most important thing is to just keep creating work I really care about.”

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