Like most of us, graphic designer Anders Bakken finds the internet overwhelming. “I’m trying to get away from the internet as it makes me very confused,” he says. “I just want to make everything I see—there’s too much inspiration.” However, few of us could synthesize the reams of inspiration both on and offline into designs as wonderful as his.
Bakken was born just outside of Oslo in Norway, but the young designer already has something of a global resumé. His studies in graphic design have taken him to Australia, and since then he’s lived and worked in Berlin, before settling in Luzern, Switzerland. His “day job” is working as the in-house designer at a language school, but it’s his side projects that caught our eye, specifically his Blank Poster series, which we spotted at Graphic Design Festival Scotland.
Blankposter.com is an ongoing project run by Bakken and two of his Norwegian pals, which acts as an open submission repository for poster designs from anyone and everyone who wants to be involved. Each week, the site shows a different word to inspire the next batch of designs, and so far the project has yielded more than 1,500 unique posters that have been exhibited across Norway, Switzerland, and Germany.
For poster projects, Bakken feels that the design solution should hint at, but not directly translate what it’s promoting. “When I’m working on event posters and stuff like that, I feel each poster introduces its own identity, it doesn’t have to be as subtle as with a branding project. My approach to poster design is to try and get attention without being obnoxious. I try to visualize the feeling of the event through typography and imagery without spelling it out too obviously.”
When he’s working to a client brief, things get a little more pared-back. Bakken reckons his Scandinavian roots make themselves known when facing more directed projects. “I’m from Norway originally, where things are very minimal and chic, so I think my approach to branding is the opposite to where I go with posters. I try not to add anything unnecessary—it irritates me a bit when there’s too much of a visual language with no content. With branding I go quite minimal; I like to keep the brand in focus. If you’re creating work for a stylist or illustrator, for example, you don’t want to take anything away from them or create confusion.”
For now, while he hides from the proliferation of imagery online and focuses on his surroundings, Bakken feels an affinity with Swiss style—something evident in his unusual use of typography and pattern, and his willingness to push design to its limits on his poster work. So where to now? “I feel like the kind of projects I’m doing in my freelance work is where I want to be, as I get a lot of freedom,” he says. “I always try to learn every time I do something.”