Jessica Hallam

There’s a rawness present in the portfolio of this young designer, echoing the chaotic energy of the Punk scene in Leeds and Sheffield that she frequently documents in self-published zines and photobooks.

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Roswellian Syndrome – 600 People, Jessica Hallam, 2015

How do your graphic design and photographer practices influence each other?

I do photography as a hobby and it’s something that piqued my interest quickly. When I visited Village Bookstore in Leeds for the first time a couple of years ago, I was infatuated with the different photo books and magazines they had and how they were connected with graphic design and typography in some way. I then realised that I could make this my own practice. I certainly feel that knowing about grid systems and typography is an added bonus when it comes to creating your own publication. It helps with knowing that an image will need text on it at the design stage or that it needs to be landscape for the dimensions of the pages to work.

What do you think makes a strong self-published book or zine?

I think doing your research and development prior to the design stage is a crucial part of creating a strong publication. For every project at university you spend weeks on the research; I used to think it was tedious, but it can lead you in new directions and inspire different ways of presenting the content through the theme. Having a theme is another obvious element that helps communicate a strong idea.

Tell us a bit about your Grim Up North publication.

At the Ditto Press Print Camp, we had to create a self-initiated publication using whatever print output we wanted. As I had a collection of photographs from punk shows in Sheffield and Leeds I decided to make a publication involving them. I am fascinated by risograph printing so I made a decision to use both offset and riso and overlay this to create a strange distorted image. The process wasn’t easy as the riso is very messy. However I think the outcome is interesting and I went out of my comfort zone with using new processes.

What do you find so fascinating about the punk scene’s aesthetic?

I love how raw it is. I don’t have to worry about if a photograph I take has come out double exposed or if the lighting isn’t particularly perfect because it’s a projection of punk. There isn’t any strict guidelines of what’s right or wrong, you just go out there and do it because you’re passionate about it. I also got really into the punk aesthetic by iconic album artwork from bands such as The Buzzcocks and The Undertones. I just really admired how they had this different, radical visual language that projected a sort of angst but through a graphic design perspective.

What’s your dream project?

I would love to one day work on an archive project based on UK punk today, creating a publication highlighting what bands have influenced the hardcore punk scene now, photographers and artists. That would be a project I would be incredibly proud of and a positive reminder of what I was part of when I look back in 50 years time.