Luke Hoban

In today's Talent we meet Luke Hoban, a designer whose work on both print-based and digital projects celebrates simplicity, logic and the communicative power of clarity in graphic design...

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Supporting publication. Pike River mining disaster

Describe your work in three words...
Graphic, straightforward and systematic.

What first made you realise you wanted to pursue a creative career?
I think the first time I truly considered a creative career as a possibility was in the latter half of high school. Throughout schooling I was always very interested in the arts – in particular painting. I guess creativity is something that came more naturally to me compared with other subjects like English or maths, so I assume that’s what gave me the confidence to pursue it as a career. Originally, after high school, I applied to university to study Fine Arts – but after a year I decided it wasn’t particularly for me, as the stuff I was creating didn’t seem tangible outside the context of the gallery space. That's what prompted me to transfer to design school, and from there I guess I just fell in love with the craft of graphic design.

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Supporting publication. Pike River mining disaster

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Information about the Pike River mining disaster. West Coast, New Zealand.(

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Dropdown menu. Pike River mining disaster

Tell us about your Pike River Mine project – why did you decide to create a piece of work about this, and what's the relationship between the web-based and print-based outcomes?
It has been said that contemporary Western society has become intellectually and emotionally divorced from death. The Pike River disaster brought New Zealand and the world face to face with some difficult truths about worker safety, and forced us to confront what an event of this magnitude means in terms of loss to a community.

Through the primary form of a website, with a supporting publication, the aim was to produce a way of helping people understand this tragic event. Both pieces of work function separately, while at the same time are anchored to each other through a shared visual language. The website’s main pages share a conceptual visual narrative. Large abstract shapes representing the mine entrance are positioned and scaled in a certain way to invite the user to explore the content below. I wanted to subconsciously ask the user to stare death in the face and to discover what actually happened in the mine.

The overall design uses visual cues that are typically associated with editorial design. Paragraphs are broken by indents rather than hard returns, columns are set to approximately 50 characters wide to create the best optical reading distance – rags, widows, and orphans are considered and adjusted to help with the overall reading experience. Content is divided into different sections with the use of images and white space, to break up the pacing and help with the overall flow of the document.

I wanted the treatment of the type to be the main graphical element; to give gravitas to words chosen, to be straightforward, accurate, and factual with a degree of solemnity. I put emphasis on using as much white space as possible to create a clear visual hierarchy between the headings, body copy and other typographic elements. This theme is carried throughout the site with the hiding of the visual navigation behind dropdown menus, the removal of colour from all of the images, and many other small details that enhance the legibility of the content. This way of approaching the layout essentially removed all added distractions and put emphasis on letting the user be fully engaged with what they were reading. This recognising the gravity of the event, and seeks to convey the facts without sensationalism, but with dignity and authority.

To reinforce the uncomplicated, sincere visual elements and structure, I optimised all of the graphics and other elements to reduce load times – this emphasis on performance rather than aesthetic flourishes compliments the visual and textual narrative, offering a website that is a considered synthesis of content, form and function.

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Exposure Exhibition, showcasing the emerging talents of the 2017 graduates. (

Describe your workspace to us...
I have recently moved from New Zealand to Australia, so things are still in limbo in terms of workspace. The new studio space I am working in is situated within a huge open plan building – we share the space with an advertising agency, it’s a very busy and creative environment.

Are there any particular visual or conceptual references that you draw upon, or ideas that you try to explore in your work?
I am constantly being visually engaged by what I see around me. I enjoy incorporating a sense of spontaneity within my work – but I always try to ground that with a certain measure of technical and methodological rigour. Recently I have been working more with modulate systems, grids and other visual aids, these have been extremely helpful to me as I primarily work on digital projects now.

I have recently started incorporating the golden ratio into my workflow as well. I find it particularly useful when setting typography, as I tend to limit myself to only using point sizes that correspond to the intervals of the golden ratio – this creates a visually satisfying hierarchy to the human eye.

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Supporting poster with pulled out pages from the Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs publication

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Supporting screen printed tote bag, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

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Hand pressed turps released pages, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your approach as a designer?
Influence can be found anywhere and from anyone. But I believe elements from modern art have always influence the way I approach a creative problem. From the grid systems used by artists such as Piet Mondrian to colour theories by Georges Seurat and the Neo-Impressionists – the ways in which the modernists interpreted visual narratives within their work seem to draw parallels to my contemporary graphic design practice.

Along with modern art, there are people I’d like to mention that have directly or indirectly influenced me. Tim Kelleher from Sons & Co (, Dean Poole from Alt Group ( and most importantly the people that are working around me on a daily basis.

What's the most important thing you learned during your studies?
Keep things as simple as you can while still being able to communicate your message to the best effect.

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Supporting publication, American nuclear testing between 1945 & 1962

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Supporting publication, American nuclear testing between 1945 & 1962

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Supporting poster, American nuclear testing between 1945 & 1962

What would be your dream project?
It’s hard to say, but probably something to do with exhibition design. I had the opportunity to be involved with my university’s end of year graduate show last year – I found it to be an intensive but very rewarding process to be a part of. My main role in the project was to translate the visual system that we had created, into a website ( The main goal of the site was to promote the physical exhibition while also acting as an online archive for the 2017 graduating class.

I have also always found it really refreshing working with clients on a more collaborative level – clients who really appreciate the creative craft are usually awesome to work for, and you can usually see it in the end result. I don’t particularly believe dream projects exist on their own – but it's rather a process that you have to create by guiding the client through the creative process and making them excited about what the outcome could be.

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Supporting publication of Fearful Harmony. Cover and back pages

What are you working on now, and what's next for you?
I have actually just moved to Sydney, Australia so you could say things are quite hectic right now. The reason for the move was to start a full time position at MAUD (, a creative agency working with mostly corporate and cultural clients within Australia. I guess my main pursuit right now is to just enjoy the work I am doing and to soak in as much knowledge as I can from everyone around me in the studio. I would also like to continue doing collaborative projects with friends and freelance clients – at the moment I am helping a client start an online magazine and I’m also developing a website ( with a friend which acts as a digital extension to my final university project.