Justin Sloane applies his blunt and nuanced ethos to multidisciplinary design

Multidisciplinary designer, Justin Sloane, presents the “competition between organic and synthetic” visuals in his work.

With a variety of projects under his belt, Justin prefers to demonstrate the “bluntness” and clarity that can be achieved through design. “[My style is] sort of schizophrenic depending on what I’m working on. With my own work I tend to go back to an idea of ‘nuanced utility,’ or something like that,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I love simple technologies and visual markers, things like bright yellow sidewalk paint, thermoplastic coating, anodised metal, rivets, concrete…I think the bluntness of utility is beautiful.”

“I like to start with things that belong to the world of utility and contrast them against more fluid biological forms or materials. The typeface I have been working on for the last two years is a good example of this; the contrast between a friendly circular Roman form and an almost black-letter italic gives it a visual rhythm that marries the humanistic with the mechanical. I hope it does anyway.”

Justin’s simple approach to design takes him on a creative journey that falls naturally. By obscuring all (or most) “outside” influences and from channeling his inner thoughts into spur-of-the-moment inventions, many of his projects represent honest, clear visuals with a brusque edge. “I believe that the first impulse is usually the right one. I try to capture that idea without polluting it with outside influence, then I fork that direction into several possible paths. I can do this literally, by making iterations, or conceptually by thinking or writing it down,” Justin says.

“The iterations eventually get edited down to one or split off into different projects later on. For self-initiated projects, this editing process can last for long periods of time, even months or years. A lot of my projects require me to learn how to do something new, so there may be a learning curve with software or outsourcing in between settling on an idea and executing the project. The stopping point tends to happen when that initial idea feels the clearest and I can’t reduce the visuals anymore. Comedians are always talking about the best jokes not having a too many words — ‘a perfect joke has zero fat on it’ — the same principle applies for me, I think.”  

One of his most recent projects, in collaboration with Sharp Type, embarks on the new Respira typeface release drawn by Lucas Sharp. All proceeds of the Troposphere Warning Label posters are channeled to the NRDC to fight against climate change; by mapping the effects of climate change on the regional areas of North America, these designs post data taken from a NASA survey while encompassing impactful diagrams and eye-catching graphics “I was approached by Lucas and Chantra at Sharp Type to design a poster for the Respira release. The aim was to help promote the font and drive funds to the NRDC using the resources we had. The posters had to relate to some aspect of the climate crisis and my initial thought was to make a diagram. I wanted to make a diagram that would map the social implications of the greenhouse effect and illustrate the circulation of hot air around the planet,” says Justin.

“Most of the published research shows that climate change will hit poor and developing countries the hardest. These statistics inspired the horizon line that cuts between both of the posters pointing to he equator — the point of heaviest impact. The general aesthetic of the warning label felt appropriate for obvious reasons. Climate change is guaranteed to lead to chaos and political upheaval.”