On Wednesday afternoon, graphic artist Marian Bantjes gave a small lecture at the Royal College of Art, showing some images from her forthcoming book, I Wonder. CR were lucky enough to make it along…
Henrik Kubel’s poster for the talk. Each drawing represents an aspect of Bantjes’ life: her house number, a scribe pen, Vancouver wildlife
The talk, organised by Henrik Kubel of A2/SW/HK, who also lectures at the RCA, was a great opportunity to see some highlights from Bantjes‘ career and hear her talk about working with clients, the reaction her work can provoke (both good and bad), and how, thanks to her love of making things and sending them out en masse to friends, Valentines day has become a very busy period in her year.
There’s often a distinct materiality to Bantjes’ work and, while an advocate of using Illustrator as a tool in her often highly complex designs, she clearly relishes the more tactile of her projects: from making letterforms out of poured sugar, to drawing on tin foil, as she did for New York magazine’s end-of-the-decade issue.
The 00s piece for New York magazine
Commissioned to illustrate the words “the 00s”, this piece proved particularly successful as it changed with the light reflected on it but, sadly, didn’t end up running in the actual feature, only online.
Bantjes also showed some of her work for Saks, a huge project commissioned by Michael Bierut at Pentagram. One of the most satisfying aspects of this job seemed to the various directions that the work she created went next: from Bantjes’ beautiful line drawings aping the structure of the garment or object they illustrated, to the ambitious installations that the Saks design team then created in-store.
Saks work in-store. More from the project can be seen, here
The big project on the horizon at the moment is the completion of her book, I Wonder, which will be published by Thames & Hudson in October this year. Unlike a regular monograph, each page of I Wonder includes work made specifically for the book and, as with much of her emotionally-charged personal pieces, there will be plenty of text to read as well.
Proof pages from Marian Bantjes’ forthcoming book, I Wonder
When asked if she referred to herself as an artist, graphic designer, or neither, Bantjes replied with “graphic artist”. It’s a term which, she added, went out of fashion in a similar way to how “graphic design” is almost being lost to “communications” but still it neatly implies a combination of fine artist and designer. Bantjes is also a skilled writer and has an ability to combine all three forms in her work.
So we’re looking forward to picking up, looking at, reading through her new book when it comes out later in the year.
Cover of I Wonder