A belated post due to a busy week at work! So without further ado, our weekly feature:
I first met Jeremiah while showing work at this past year’s Firebelly Holiday shop: what an honor to be showcased in the same room! Jeremiah Chiu is a Chicago native, co-founder/partner at Plural and a musician with local group Icy Demons (that’s him on the keyboard). He received his MFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since co-founding the studio in 2008, Plural has received recognition by the Art Directors Club, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Communication Arts magazine, Print magazine, How magazine, and The Society of Typographic Arts, among others. With a focus on typography and visual experimentation, Plural explores new ideas within the design process as they collaborate on a wide range of print, web, video, textile, and music projects.
What’s your favorite part about Chicago in the summer: any fun tips for new residents, such as myself, or visitors?
Chicago’s a great city to be in, whether it’s summer or not. It’s not too big, and not too small. You can ride your bicycle everywhere and there are tons of great cultural happenings every day of the week.
I don’t know, I’ve grown up here my whole life, so I bet other cities are great as well. If you’re visiting I highly recommend going to Millennium Park.
Typeforce was earlier this year and the Post Family show recently wrapped up: what’s next?
It’s been a great year for Plural so far: busy busy busy. I’m not sure what’s next. We’re feeling really good to be buried under tons of exciting new work right now. We’ll be pushing out some more Lumpen magazines, working on a building mural with Edmar down in Bridgeport, making books with The Stockyard Institute, working on some new album covers, curating a poster show at Depaul, missing meetings with the Chicago Printers Guild, etc… Same as it is everyday… Wake up. Make things. Go to bed.
How do your installations and other artistic endeavors influence your design and vice versa?
I definitely don’t differentiate the two. Ideas are ideas. Design is the way we think. The execution differs based on the audience, location, space, time, etc…
Most of the ideas/works that end up as installations or in exhibitions are derived from experiments in the studio, all of which are nonsense. (It’s all the stuff the clients won’t buy) 🙂 With exhibitions, it’s our opportunity to do whatever, without consequences, so we usually go with the most absurd idea and just let it be. Why not?
Playing music has helped me learn to work in different ways. It helps me approach things from a different perspective, writing a tune and composing a poster are very similar things, you have an idea, and then you organize that idea into a cohesive thought and deliver the message in the best way. If you always design your poster by placing the image before the text, next time try it the other way around.
On Humble Pied, Renata’s and your advice to young professionals was to practice and experiment. What are your favorite ways to combat creative block?
Headstands. Hands down. Try not to over-think things. Take a break.
Lately, we’ve been using the phrase “keep it funky” a lot. It’s been working pretty well. I think the idea behind that is to do something you think is wrong, or that you wouldn’t do, like use drop shadow or something silly like that, and then force it to work. You can make anything good, you just have to work through it. School made me a rigid designer, and I think only now am I starting to realize how to balance that with the other “wild” side of me. The rules are instilled, everything I make will always carry more scrutiny now than it did before, because I learned right from wrong.
How did you know that grad school was right for you, and how did you decide on a program?
I decided to go to grad school because I was ready to spend 2 years devoting all of my time to learning more about graphic design. I had been working at an art gallery and doing a lot of freelance for two years after college, and as I started looking for a change of pace, things just sort of fell in place. I learned about UIC from a friend of mine, Jon Krohn, as he was studying there. My roommate at the time, Chris Kalis (future Plural partner), was also interested in the program, so we both applied, and both got in. UIC has a great program, with the faculty there, I think it’s the best GD MFA in Chicago. Marcia Lausen heads the school. After meeting with Philip Burton and hearing numerous stories about Paul Rand, Armin Hoffmann and Wolfgang Weingart, I was sold. UIC also began accrediting the Basel School of Design at the university level, so we were afforded the opportunity to study in Basel during their summer workshops. Nothing beats hearing your teacher tell you that you’re in Emil Ruder’s old classroom.