New York-based designer Raf Rennie first got into design after playing around on Photoshop when he was 12. “When I got to high school and friends were starting bands, I knew enough to make them their artwork,” he says. Raf has worked on an array of different projects, but is most comfortable in editorial design working across various magazines and publications. The designer has a fairly open approach when it comes to defining his work and style: “I’ve tried thinking of [my style] as a ‘post-structuralist’ aesthetic but I’m more and more thinking of that as a kind of forced nomenclature,” says Raf. “I’m still very much under this idea of structured modernist typography, but always try to bring more into it, some sort of mess and something to break that structure. In my head it’s always taking the narrative or language of one way of thinking and trying to add another discursive voice to it.”
For several years Raf has been working with Canadian arts magazine C Magazine, where he’s the designer and art director. “It’s a great mag and I hope I can help proliferate and make it more known,” he says. “I loved it as an undergrad and doing it now is a dream.” As well as C Magazine, Raf has recently worked with several magazines as part of the LA Art Book Fair including the publishers of Shoplifters, Number 04 which published some of his thesis writing and a series of subtle line drawings he created for WAX Magazine.
Raf’s work is measured and crisp, paying attention to composition and text placement. Overall his portfolio is fairly monochrome, with a focus on typography as opposed to gimmicks and bright colours. In a series of film screening posters, Raf adds interest and vibrancy by layering different digital textures, shapes and lines to create something that draws the eye in and is still communicative.
“I am trying to always create something that is of value apart from its content – like the design-object is a place for a designer to define themselves not just through content or subject matter,” says Raf. “I see a lot of designers who try to create an identity for themselves by making work that’s all about one thing, but visually they haven’t really developed a distinct identity (especially with work that has to be political or critical).”
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