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This month’s cover graphic was designed by Jimmy Chen from Typographic in Los Angels.
Using the structural layers and simple typefaces, he created the sophisticated flash-driven cover design.
“I would like to create an environment in which you forget what medium you are using… where the medium ceases to become as important as the level of exploration and entertainment”…. Recently he completed the remedi project

Could you introduce yourself?

I’m Jimmy Chen. The guy who designs Typographic . I started Typographic back in late 1996 as an experimental section, part of eLogic Communications (Venice Beach, California) where I was Creative Director. It began as a “Text Powered” creation, but it somehow just evolved into a more typographic thing.
After eLogic, I designed at Studio Archetype in San Francisco.
I graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona as a graphic design major…although I initially started out as an architecture.
I mainly design for the web. A lot of my designs start out as a creative experiment and then get incorporated into what I’m whatever I’m working on.

You have designed a number of web sites for your clients. What do you care about most when you create a web site? What’s your motto when designing one?

Of course I care about the client’s needs, but it’s not enough if I can’t design something graphically interesting. It can mutually inspire the client and designer. Motto: Damn… why aren’t there more hours in the day?

You contributed the cover to SHIFT this month with the exquisite layers, simple typefaces, beautiful design.
Could you tell us what you tried to express with it?

A lot of the designs that I’ve done primarily revolve around layers. I always try to explore dimensionalities in 2-d graphic. To accomplish these effects, I use shadows, perspectives, and layers. In the cover I designed for SHIFT, I tried to express the fact that the ever present “screen” has so much influence on us. The energy that it sends out… it provides constant information and entertainment, although the two are now indistinguishable.
Whether it is a computer screen, television screen, or movie screen, it vibrates, it influences, it can be whatever we want it to be. And with this screen, we can express ourselves to the world. It’s like a double-sided mirror. The message is simple, the imagery is complex.
Animated graphics and animated type just make the “screen” a more seemeless and fluid extension of everyday motion and activity. Information and art, for that matter, are no longer static.

How is your web activity going now?

I recently completed the remedi project, an experimental web site that was created by Josh Ulm. That was definitely a very fun project to do. I had a limited amount of time to design something new and experimental that I had never done before. My final piece was comprised of 12 director movies.
They really had no “purpose.” It was just to explore what I can do. It was a first attempt, so the files were incredibly huge. But that’s when I defined what I eventually want to do in the web, animations. I am really proud to be part of that project. And from the remedi project, I met a lot of great designers and exchanged information and ideas.

You have just moved from San Francisco. How do you like Los Angels so far?

I was originally living in Los Angeles. I moved up to San Francisco for work. Now that I am back in Los Angeles, I feel a bit more comfortable with my environment. The main difference between SF and LA is probably the weather. It pretty much sucks in SF. But as far as the design community, it is a lot more active in SF. There is more of a design presence there.
And maybe that’s something I should think about… stirring something up in LA.
Y’know…get designers together and interested in collaborative works.

What do you think about the U.S web design scene?

I think the designs produced by U.S. studios are very innovative. They cover the entire spectrum of web design, from technology to art. They keep me inspired and drive me to be more experimental in my design… to evolve. Cliche… but true.

As a Taiwanese-American, how do you think about the web sites that are run by talented Asian-American designers?

I really don’t think about things like that. I’ve seen their works and they’re cool. Very. I admire designers as designers. On the web everybody is represented by their graphics and their codes. Very anonymous and just the way I like it. Nobody knows that I am rotund, unsightly and have 3 eyes. But as for typographic, I try to represent it as Typographic and not so much as Jimmy Chen. Typographic seems to have more facets and can be as specific or as ambiguous as I feel at any given moment.

Who are your favorite graphic/web designers?

There are lots of people that I like and a lot of them that I don’t even know their names. I admire designers and directors that do television commercials, movie titles, posters, billboards, cd covers, and those sort things. I like designers that mix it up and cross mediums.
Some specifics, to name a few, are Designers Republic, P. Scott Makela, Neville Brody, Barry Deck, Why Not Associates, April Greiman, Stephen Farrell, Rebecca Menendez, and David Carson, Spyplane, Pittard Sullivan, 52mm, 47jane, secondstory… but that is by no means a complete list. That’s just what comes to mind right now.

What is the typeface you like best?

I use a lot of Macintosh system fonts such as Helvetica, Palatino, Times, and others such as Impact, Gil Sans, and Bodoni. I like using those typefaces because I am familiar with them and I can customize them accordingly to whatever I am designing. I try not to use custom fonts because they were designed for a specific purpose and to use them may not fit with what I am doing. And, on a utilitarian note, I also thought it would be cool to design on any computer and I can have all the typefaces that I need.

Are you interested in Japanese culture?

Japanese popular culture has influenced a lot of designers from around the world. I like the graphical artistry of Japanese comic books, as well as the off-beat sense of humor…. the twist on pop-culture.
Been to Tokyo in 1989 for a week in December. It was very nice over there during the winter. Would love to go there again if I get the chance.

What are your long-term goals? Do you have any specific future plans?

World domination, of course. I would like to explore motion graphics on the web. More of an entertainment based web site, like a tv, but on the web. I would like to create an environment in which you forget what medium you are using… where the medium ceases to become as important as the level of exploration and entertainment. I would like the viewer/user to “get lost” in the overall piece.

Jimmy Chen

Text: Satoru Tanno

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