Furqan Jawed walks the thin line between graphic design and an artistic practice

Furqan Jawed is a Brooklyn-based Indian graphic designer whose work encompasses several core interests. Much of it lies between what many might consider graphic design and artistic practice. While some consider his work to be retro-futuristic in its inspirations, it is more likely to be enjoyed as his own body of work, rather than risk diluting his startling originality in a sea of ​​influences. Jawed’s response to the inspiration questions confirms this, and he tells STIR that he cannot single out specific artists he would consider crucial to his practice. Although he mentions some creative practitioners he finds interesting, it’s clear that his work is his and his alone.

Loot / लूट / لوٹ (2021) – screen print on Arjowiggins Keaykolour Chilli Pepper paper Image: Furqan Jawed, courtesy of Furqan Jawed, Pulp Editions

Jawed discusses one of his most evocative works saying, “In 2020, I became very interested in photographs of Earth. One of the works in this series that I produced was the blue marble publication, in which I have reproduced one of the most reproduced images of the Earth. The Blue Marble image was displayed on a computer screen and photographed with a digital camera, and the resulting image was re-photographed…and so on. This process was repeated over 378 times, until eventually the image began to lose information and become distorted. Visible markers in the image, all essential to identify it for what it is, or rather once was, such as clouds, continental landmasses and bodies of water, all of which eventually decay into pixels gritty, becoming ghostly remnants of the once lush world we identify as a part of. Eventually, all that remains are arid blotches of gray and black, surrounded by a red and blue halo, which Jawed identifies as iconic markers of artificial digital photography – a sort of strange event horizon for the visual information. After 378 cycles, this once-critical photograph becomes completely unrecognizable as an image of Earth, taking on a new truth; one that speaks of the challenges and burdens placed on a single image to represent all of humanity and the house we inhabit. Jawed explains that his piece also serves a second purpose: he conceived it as a poetic staging that emphasizes the issues created when the Earth is objectified and commodified in a capitalist society, as well as the complexity of the images of The Blue Marble when used in a Western eco-activist context.

Blue marble, 2020, book, Furqan Jawed |  Blue Marble|  Jaw Furqan |  STIRworld
Blue marble, 2020, Book Image: Jaw Furqan

Jawed tells STIR: “Earth is a picture of the ultimate home, a home for the species, but this hugely enlarged version is one that can only be imagined, or even wished for, in the mind of a viewer. . It is not a sight one experiences on an ordinary day. The image is expected to contain all human beings, even the one looking at it, but if someone is looking at it, how is that an accurate representation of the representation? This image does not wait for its symbols to be fully decoded by its viewer, but rather relies on an abstract understanding of unity, simply through its aesthetic and visual symbols. The visual artist has drawn on a graphic designer‘s understanding of visual and digital data to create work that raises uncomfortable questions of semiotics; more specifically, the value we place on our signs and symbols. Maybe there are times when we channel far too many aspiration or expectations towards them, inevitably forcing them to break.

Blue Windows, 2021, Book |  Blue marble |  Jaw Furqan |  STIRworld
Blue windows, 2021, Book Image: Jaw Furqan

While Jawed’s work with visual imagery is captivating, much of his work is also typographic in nature. To reference an earlier claim about his practice, his typographic work is a perfect segment to experience his unique blend of art and design. “Each font and its letterforms have a specific flavor or vibe,” he explains, “and they each evoke a feeling in the way they are displayed and used. My process usually starts with trying to capture that feeling. I draw shapes digitally, sometimes almost instinctively and other times with very specific intent, from there it’s usually a fight between how I go crazy with the aesthetic part while keeping it readable and true to life. to the mood. I am particularly interested in creating forms that seem less textual and more visual, like an abstraction of the words they are trying to express. I like to leave the viewer in a space of understanding of what is familiar and unfamiliar about letterforms…so much so that one gets used to picking up and immediately recognizing their feel.

Tauba Auerbach, 2021, Digital, Jaw Furqan |  Tauba Auerbach|  Jaw Furqan |  STIRworld
Tauba Auerbach, 2021, Digital Image: Jaw Furqan

The graphic designer spent much of his childhood in Pune, India. His father moved around India a lot, so Jawed saw much of the subcontinent in his youth. He would pursue an undergraduate degree at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and soon after find himself working in a design studio for a year and a half in New Delhi. freelance for another year, then apply and be accepted into the Graphic Design MFA program at Yale School of Art. He tells STIR: “In my work, I have studied the consumption of images and the circulation of specific images. Although Jawed often does this through the prism of seduction, it shouldn’t always be taken literally: he goes on to say “sometimes this seduction takes a more literal conceptual route and other times I’m more interested in more present nuanced and complex narratives, either by obscuring the subject or making it hyper-visible. We endlessly fabricate, absorb and regurgitate images. By appropriating these images, I enjoy creating findings that shed light on certain aspects, including alternative and marginalized viewpoints and narratives that are often buried in circulation.

Blue Marble #166, 2020, Digital, Jaw Furqan |  Blue Marble #166 |  Jaw Furqan |  STIRworld
Blue Marble #166, 2020, Digital Image: Jaw Furqan

Jawed’s work is intricate, layered and done with a lot of meticulous craftsmanship. However, he also often has a certain carefree charm and very regularly refuses to conform to creative standards. It will be extremely exciting to follow Furqan Jawed and see which direction he decides to take his practice. In the meantime, of course, we have his fascinating oeuvre to dig into.

Jaw Furqan |  Blue Marble|  Jaw Furqan |  STIRworld
Jaw Furqan Image: Courtesy of Furqan Jawed

min watch

A video of the artist consuming the pages of his book Pizza Boy |  Jaw Furqan |  STIRworld

A video of the artist consuming the pages of his book Pizza Boy Video: Furqan in the jaw

Clifton L. Boyd