An A4 high-vis vest, lettering rendered in paper burns, strange overlapping neon pink tongues, and a plastic bag stuffed with eyeballs are just a few of the odd, off-the-wall visual reference points that make their way into the varied and skillfully drawn portfolio of Mark Bohle.
Based in Stuttgart, Bohle freelances as a graphic designer and illustrator, and is often found collaborating with other designers, artists, and a fair few party-throwers, too. Perhaps what’s so engaging about his online portfolio is that his commissioned work and personal projects slot in so neatly together: not only is there a noticeable lack of hierarchy between the two, but his penchant for experimentation is something he seems to have convinced clients of, and the resulting work is all the better for it.
Using processes including silkscreen printing, hand-drawn lettering, typographic photo collages, burning paper, and charcoal and pencil sketching, Bohle takes a considered approach that makes every single project feel entirely fresh—there’s not one piece that has even that faintest whiff of phoning it in.
With that in mind, we asked Bohle to tell us the stories behind five of his poster designs, and in the process found ourselves anthropomorphizing two chimneys in love, for the first time ever.
1. Thank You For Shopping Here!
“This poster was designed for an exhibition I did in collaboration with Hans-Jörg Seidler. At that time we were working on a series of large-format silkscreen prints of plastic bags that we collected in New York City back in the day. The failed prints out of this series were then overprinted with the exhibition information in big, black letters. We wanted the type to really work against the pictures underneath. The poster series contains six different prints that were put up in the streets of Heilbronn and Stuttgart, where we were studying at that time.”
2. No better time than now, no better place than here
“This poster was created [again in collaboration with Hans-Jörn Seidler] for a group exhibition at ABK Stuttgart. We wanted it to show different sketches of ideas around time and space. As it was a group exhibition, we didn’t want to use the work of just one artist, so we took the show’s title and created illustrations from it with lots of sketches and drafts. Hans-Jörg is always eager to find the one special moment in every draft, so we combined some of the sketches in the poster. That made the poster more complex in terms of its language, but also more precise in relation to the content.”
3. Shake Your Bricks
“Working with Raffael Kormann is always a tough task. He’s very critical with what’s in front of him, and at the same time is very spontaneous and gets very excited, coming up with ideas or radical changes. You never know what’s going to happen next, but the result is always worth the journey.
“This poster was created for a party originally called Industry Party, but we changed the name slightly to Shake Your Bricks and did some drawings of dancing chimneys. The two happiest ones were put together and since then they’ve been having a good time together as a dancing couple.”
4. Akan’t Get No Sleep
“Eyes are the most striking eye-catcher ever. The poster was used for a party with an installation that was a collaboration with Jonas Zieher, Maximillian Haslauer, and the students of the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart’s product design department. We tried to use the eyes in combination with some wobbling and almost invisible type. The colors were kept bright as well to give a sense of staring into a glittering spotlight. The poster came to life when we hung two oversized balloons from the ceiling, right above the dancing crowd. These two eyes were projected with digital animations and sequences of real eyes.”
“I was asked to design the poster for my university’s communication design department degree show, one of the most important events throughout the year. The task was to find an image that could combine this heavyweight importance with all the energy that students put into their degree work. The ‘tree of taste’ image tries to illustrate the idea of repeatedly tasting and being tasted. The poster became quite overloaded in the end, but at the same time it didn’t lose its agile character. I would love to work more on illustrations like that, but sadly there are only very few options to do so.”