Graphic design wasn’t always a career option for Jen Cuenco. But alas, we all know how things change, and luckily enough while battling her full time job at MUJI things started moving in the right direction for Jen. In what direction you ask? In the direction of Kenya Hara and Japanese aesthestic. These were the elements that helped Jen blossom in her career in graphic design. “It all started with MUJI my first and only job when I was living in London. I was supposed to be a Christmas casual and I ended up staying for two years! MUJI is a Japanese brand that is all about Japanese aesthetics and simple designs, because of MUJI I discovered Kenya Hara and other creatives who opened my mind to all aspects of Design.”
Jen's come a long way from her MUJI days and she's now based in Sydney, where she tackles graphic design, whilst also painting in her spare time.
If you asked Jen what her view on creativity is with her more personal work, she’d tell you straight up: keep it simple. “I like to make my art appear as if it was easy and simple to make, but in reality everything I make is conceptual and has a meaning.” So think out of the box, but make it seem like you didn't? Sweet.
But when Jen was told to create posters based on the topics of copyright, legal issues and safety at work, what did she do? Jen chose bananas. I know what you're thinking. Bananas? The icky yellow fruit that you have to peel open to get to its sweet starchy centre, bananas!? Well she wasn't going bananas when she chose the yellow fruit to convey her less than lively subject.
“I did a series of posters for AGDA (Australian Graphic Design Association) as an assessment for college. The posters were about three seminars in the Graphic Design work environment - Copyright, Legal Issues and Safety at work … I wanted to make my poster look and feel fun because the subject was boring and dull but I still wanted to answer the brief. I came up with my Banana series, I thought if these posters were going to be advertised in bus shells where the attention time was only 5-10 seconds I had to make it stand out. So I photographed bananas according to the 3 seminars and came up with some copy to give it a punch.”
So who inspires Jen’s fresh and unique style? In order to keep the creative juices flowing Jen looks to many different artists, and delving back into her past, it’s no surprise who’s first on her list. “(My) First and major inspiration is Kenya Hara. I’m a sucker for Japanese design! Peter Saville who is responsible for those iconic Joy Division and New Order album covers. Stefen Sagmeister, Coco Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Saul Bass. I’ve also loved everything by Christopher Doyle who is a local designer based in Camperdown.”
It isn’t all bananas and Kenya Hara for Jen. She’s been a little busy lately managing her own zine called ‘Nothing Zine’. If you’re a little right-brained yourself, and want contribute something, or maybe even nothing (whichever tickles your fancy) you can slip right on over to the Nothing Zine page. With all banana jokes aside, if those quirky posters captured your attention, you can check out more of Jen’s work here.
Images courtesy of Jen Cuenco