Next Up… Yasmin Henry!
Article by Studio Ground Floor
Emerging creative Yasmin Henry on idea generation, overlapping lives and her lively, oddly-indistinct practice.
Welcome to Next Up…! In this series, we'll be highlighting emerging graphic and typographic designers at the beginning of their creative careers. For our maiden article, we’ve chatted to Yasmin Henry, discussing idea generation, overlapping lives and her lively, oddly-indistinct practice.
Mancunian “non-graphic graphic designer” Yasmin Henry, a recent graduate from Kingston School of Art, tells us that her disciplinary label is simply due to her definition of the practice. “I suppose my creative practice at the moment is ‘graphic design’ in the sense that I communicate ideas in a visual way,” she remarks, translating as such through the mediums of both type design and graphic design, tackling depending on the project in hand. “I would say the graphic design side of my practice informs my type more,” Yasmin recalls, “as I feel like type as a discipline has this stereotype of being quite a boring and a solitary practice,” turning towards more playful and, importantly, collaborative approaches to strictly type-based projects. “I think it’s important to create type for a purpose, not just because it’s legible or because it looks nice,” she explains. “However, when I do have a graphic design-heavy project,” Yasmin adds, “I do find myself tapping into the type side of my brain to find the most appropriate typeface for the project… or making my own,” in essence working side by side with one another – equally supportive, emboldening and inspiring.
Discussing the aesthetic, conceptual and emotional drive behind her work, Yasmin is candid in explaining her interests. “As creepy as it sounds, people really interest me,” she remarks, “I think it’s amazing how different everyone is and the different lives we’ve all led but we all have these little overlaps here and there,” suggesting this as a reason for why she feels such a drive towards collaborating (and just chatting) with others. “Even if it’s for research purposes I think you can learn so much from speaking to people,” Yasmin notes, “it could be as little as someone recommending a book to read or someone who has an interesting story to tell and that’s what I like to incorporate into my work.” However, Yasmin has a fascinating story of her own to tell — a tale of her shifting creative journey.
“My creative practice changed dramatically in the sense of understanding what it was I wanted to do as a designer,” Yasmin explains. “I look back and think, what on earth was I doing? This work is shocking,” she suggests, “but then when I really reflect on my work from the start of university, the foundations were already there,” recalling how the “weird and random thoughts” which didn’t have anywhere to be suddenly had somewhere to go. “I was doing experimental type, taking photos and talking to random people,” Yasmin continues, “and I just didn’t know how to turn them into a project,” a sentiment felt until they found idea generation. “Idea generation was a place these thoughts and ideas could fit in, alongside the Kingston rule of thinking-through-making,” she explains, praising the two in tandem as fundamental elements in her creative growth.
“It’s allowed me to break out of this stereotypical boring type box,” she remarks, “and given myself the confidence as a designer to make work I think is fun and interesting;” the notion of which is emblematic of the most significant lesson Yasmin learnt at university – self-belief. “Just do you,” Yasmin tells us, “do what you find interesting and what you think is cool, and they’ll be someone somewhere who thinks it’s just as interesting and cool as you do,” a factor that, when combined with the knowledge that – ultimately – one’s grade doesn’t matter, is creatively and personally liberating. “Grades and mark schemes are there for us to jump through hoops,” she notes, “and if you do a project you’re really passionate about, you’ll jump through those hoops without even realising.”
One such project is Yasmin’s 2,617 times a day (the average amount of times a smartphone user touches their phone), a 2,617-page publication of her dissertation concerning smartphones and their attention-maintaining design – featuring the 8000-word essay alongside a smartphone compulsion test and 2,500 screenshots of users’ screen times collected throughout the year. “I’m not a particularly strong writer, and I had never made a book before,” Yasmin recalls, “so it was a challenge for me, but I enjoyed every second of it,” channelling her publishing naivety into a notably compelling and unique formatted book. “The publication was designed in an unconventional size matching that of an iPhone 11,” she details, reaching an overwhelming height that immediately demonstrates the extent of our connections with phones. “The display typeface used,” Yasmin continues, referring to Lattice Circle, designed by Yasmin in collaboration with Barnaby Mills and Lauren Fowler, “was originally drawn based on the dimensions of an iPhone screen,” resulting in an oddly familiarly yet distinctly unconventional headline typeface.
Looking ahead, it seems clear that Yasmin will continue to keep her eyes and ears open to new things – unafraid to be an open-minded, interested amateur in new fields, interests and creative endeavours whilst continuing to hone her existing practice. “I’m aware I’ve just finished university and have so much more to learn, so that’s the plan,” she concludes, “to learn, grow and meet some more amazing people,” a sentiment we can certainly all get behind.
Created with Connor Campbell
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