The ‘Industry Friday’ talks series debuted at the University of Bedfordshire Art&Design department with an inspiring talk by Amandine Alessandra, a freelance graphic designer and photographer. She is the co-founder of Tower Block Books, a publishing company founded in partnership with an architect.
Alessandra led us meticulously through her career’s history, talked about the inspiration for her works and also described a viable business model that could allow a freelancer to grow both financially and profesionally without losing his/her freedom.
Her design style is based on a kind of typography heavily influenced by photography and a kind of fluidity, because her strong belief is that “type should move”, statement that can be seen even in her portfolio. (Amandine Alessandra – Works & Plays, 2014) I believe a typography based design style is something very mature and characteristic for the evolved design market of Britain, hence this “niche” she intuitively chose, I assume.
Creating visual alphabets is something Alessandra seemed to do on a regular basis, exploring with types, shapes and textures. The first work she introduced us to was such an alphabet, called Maîtresse. This was done by using various hand postures. Her Behance portfolio features some a lot more letters built using clothing, ribbons, minerals and various other materials that, in her vision, make the type move. She also quoted as a reference the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. On a subjective level I never really indulged Mapplethorpe, but given the exposé delivered by Alessandra I reviewed some of his works and decided to explore his lighting techniques.
Alessandra’s work also fall in the category of installations and product design, and I must say I appreciated her courage to have a multi-disciplinary approach. For example, she designed a table cloth that only reveals its beautiful pattern when wine is spilt on it. On another occasion, she draw some typos with salt or bird seeds, naming them “Ephemeral Stencils”. (Behance.net, 2014)
Overall, I believe her presentation showed me that a multi-disciplinary approach might be the way do succes and I also gained an overview over the profesional evolution of a freelance artist. Although her references, especially from the field of photography, do not appeal to me, I appreciate her being also rooted in the past of this art and not just innovating without any kind of cultural support. I also like that she works “clean”, as a designer would say, her design being simple, yet powerful.