Jan Wilker on graphic design in America

What does it mean to be a graphic designer in America today, particularly if you were born in another country? Karlssonwilker’s Jan Wilker, discusses his adoptive country and how it influences his work with Adrian Shaughnessy

The following is an edited version of a conversation between Jan Wilker from New York design studio Karlssonwilker and Unit Editions’ Adrian Shaughnessy. The full version appears in Unit’s new book, Karlssonwilker On America, in which Wilker and his partner Hjalti Karlsson reflect on life and work in their adoptive home country.

The ambition for the following conversation (in fact, an exchange of emails) was to tease out some thinking about the current state of life – and work – in 21st century USA, and to investigate the challenges and realities of running a design studio in the city that never sleeps. Neither Wilker nor Shaughnessy are American. But both bring a deep-rooted need to find an answer to the question, what makes America, America?