Corbin Mahieu

After graduating from Ghent art school Sint-Lucas and getting experience at Zak Group, this young designer has already got an array of highly professional projects under his belt.

How would you describe your practice?

Every project is a mix of things I have always wanted to do and sometimes of things I've already made but never used. Right now I'm doing a part-time job at a Belgian national newspaper called DeMorgen. When I'm not doing that job in Brussels, I'm part of the graphic studio Groep Jan&Randoald. Besides these two jobs, I'm also trying to do personal assignments, projects and collaborations as much as possible.

You studied at Sint-Lucas School of Art in Ghent. What's the course like there and what have you taken from it?

Lucas is a school that gives you the freedom to experiment. The first years they critique your view of design and in the following years they offer you the space and possibilities to build a view of design that encompasses a wider angle. One of the biggest things that you learn from studying at Lucas is how to counter criticism on your design, an important skill to have after your studies when faced with clients. I loved my studies at Lucas, it offered me the opportunity to participate in workshops in Otis School of Arts in Los Angeles and to do an internship at Zak Group in London, which I’m very grateful for.

Can you tell us about a professional project you've worked on.

A project I recently did was the identity of a Ghent-based art festival called Tumultingent#3. Together with Dries Deriemaeker and Timon Mattelaer, we made a poster that visualised "an inviting and a lively chaos”. The third edition of this festival took place at more than thirty locations in the city of Ghent and has become a statement of the fresh and expanding art scene of the city. When the poster is visually deconstructed, you can see that it consists  of three layers. In the first layer you have a typographic approach of the meaning of chaos. The second level reveals an abstract composition of an explosion. The third layer shows a photo of a pillar of smoke, which gives a figurative layer to the design.

I’ve always thought graphic design, as a profession and as something with a function in our society, should be approached seriously; but while designing you should be able to play and to have fun with the idea and, mostly, the forms themselves. With me it’s always a search to find the right outcome and most of the time I’m just fascinated how different forms can co-exist on a sheet of paper.

Your portfolio includes some research-led publications, including one undertaken for your internship at Zak Group; is this research-based approach one you intend to develop?

I always enjoy doing research on topics in order to collect as much information as possible with which to find a new visual approach. Therefore It was quite fulfilling to make a research book about 'the publication as an alternative space' at Zak Group. I consider it a necessity to be fascinated by changing topics and to collect images or visual input from everything you encounter, even the things most designers consider ugly or corny. There is always something else to make out of it. A few months ago Jan&Randoald and myself designed a book called Art in Electricity, a publication made with a studio that does trend-watching on the Belgian electro music scene. Apart from the many interviews and well written texts, we also needed to collect and create an alternative approach using very bad quality images, meaning we needed to do plenty of research on some of the sometimes, for us, unknown topics.

What are you working on now and what's next?

Right now I'm finishing a collaboration with Lrnce, a Belgium-based fashion label. Besides designing the website, I've also created the new up-coming booklet and promo posters. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it all printed at the end of this month. Another project that's still in the pipeline is a new identity for a Belgian art centre in Ghent, called CAMPO. Around September this year Deriemaeker, Mattelaer and myself are going to be responsible for the new booklets, website and promo materials, which is very exciting.

An upcoming exhibition I'm also thrilled about is the twenty-sixth Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont, in where some of my personal work will be exhibited. Besides my posters, Groep Jan&Randoald made some really impressive silk screens that are to be placed on the walls there as well. The festival should be a must see for all who are interested in graphic design.