Tobias Bolliger merges rhythm and distorted typography in his experimental music posters


“I use typographic patterns with the intention of creating rhythm”, begins graphic designer Tobias Bolliger, “repetitive shapes followed by empty spaces generate variations in visual intensities.” It’s this experimental use of typography – plus the way the designer uses lettering to create shape and form – that defines his music-centric practice. But, with this conceptual approach, there is another key element in Tobias’ work, and that is to “distort” the typography, essentially rendering its primary purpose of readability redundant. “By distorting typography as a carrier of information, new forms are generated and thus form is pushed to the limit of its function.”

This love of “rhythm” extends from Tobias’ practice and carries over to the industry he most enjoys working with: the music industry. Enjoying working with music, for the way it allows him to “combine the acoustic and visual spheres”, Tobias strives to transform the elements of the sounds he works with into something perceptible. It’s also the sphere of music that Tobias says is conducive to breaking the rules of design and allowing creativity to flourish in an “unrestricted” way.

These ideas translate clearly into Tobias’ posters, and he identifies his piece for Brutalismus 3000, a Gabber duo from Berlin as particularly resonating with this thought. “Like the identity of the duo, the concept of the poster revolves around a very raw and dark look,” says Tobias. “The design is based on a barcode font, which consists only of horizontal lines.” By layering a light cut version of the font, bolder cuts are then generated to the point of distortion, resulting in “diffuse shapes and black areas”. The end result – a black and white poster with levels of visual complexity created through repetition – the layered, glitch-like visuals perfectly replicate the layers of contradictory sound present in the music duo’s music.


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