my creative life

Swiss graphics, raw photography and Miffy: Mario Kerkstra's creative inspirations

AMV BBDO's creative design director shares his greatest sources of inspiration

By Mario Kerkstra

Graphic Design: Geigy

In its heyday, Basel-based company Geigy was not just at the forefront of pharmaceutical drugs research it was also one of the leading advocates of the International Typographic Style, Switzerland’s influential post-war graphic design movement.

Modernist graphic design from the 1960s is one of my greatest sources of inspiration and within that Geigy’s exceptional body of work sits right at the top of my list. This innovative groundbreaking brand identity was crucial for the development of the Swiss Style in graphic design. With its asymmetrical designs, strong visual elements, playful yet controlled sans-serif typography and block colours it is one of my all-time favourites.

To me the timeless work that was produced at Geigy over a period of 30 years is simply astonishing and I always find myself coming back to it at some point or another.

Photography: Robert Frank

Robert Frank was a revolutionary giant of 20th century photography. His images challenged the rules of photography, and he helped change the direction of photography.

His book, The Americans, is considered his masterpiece. 83 images that captured the lives of everyday American people in his raw and evocative style. The thing I find most captivating about the The Americans is the philosophy behind it. Capturing something in its purest and rawest form without diluting it. He took photographs of what he saw and documented the world around him as it was. He found beauty in everyday life and saw things other people didn’t see.

His vision of the world and how he was able to capture it in an almost snapshot like style of photography is quite remarkable to me.

Illustration: Dick Bruna

Dick Bruna was the creator of much beloved children’s book character Nijntje, if you’re Dutch like myself, but better known to the rest of the world as Miffy. She’s over 65 years old and I think it’s fair to say Miffy has stood the test of time.

Illustration is a big passion of mine and Dick Bruna is arguably my favourite illustrator of all time. The thing I find so incredible about his illustrations is how he found a way to communicate so much with so little. A few black brush strokes in combination with a simple bright colour palette was all he ever needed. Everything is stripped back to its most basic form to convey a simple message.

It’s Dick Bruna’s immense joyous creativity that was expressed through his perfectly simplistic illustration style that I find magical.

Mario Kerkstra is the Creative Design Director at AMV BBDO


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