Today is Canada Day, and to honour this festive event I’ve decided to feature a very talented Canadian Graphic Artist Marian Bantjes. Her work with custom type, ornament and illustration is awe-inspiring. Her clientèle is overwhelmingly famous and includes names like Stefan Sagmeister, Pentagram, Saks Fifth Avenue, AIGA, TypeCon, WIRED, The New York Times Magazine, InStyle, Wallpaper magazine and many others.
Marian draws inspiration from various sources, as different as Islamic Art and Victoriana, as vast as 14th-18th century calligraphy, styles as divergent as Baroque, Rococo and Gothic. She’s influenced a lot by the Arts & Crafts movement, old lace. Even though Marian claims that she’s not a big fan of M.C. Escher, I do find his impact on her work, especially in pieces like “The Struggle” and “An Orgy of Reading“.
There are very few Graphic Designers who managed to create a unique style in their line of work, that becomes instantly recognizable without compromising the needs, values and the image of their clients. Marian is one of such designers. Her signature intricate illustrations are painstakingly detailed and delicately beautiful.
Bantjes’s work received a huge recognition and numerous awards. Her first commercial typeface Restraint, which is more of an “ornament font which happens to contain letterforms”, was awarded with a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors’ Club.
She also received a Gold Racie award for the Want It campaign that she was hired to create for Saks Fifth Avenue by Michael Bierut at Pentagram.
Stefan Sagmeister calls Bantjes “one of the most innovative typographers working today“. He likes her so much that Stefan asked Marian twice to contribute to his series “Things I have learned in my life so far”. He was so impressed with her sugar piece she did for the Fox River Paper booklet that asked to use sugar to create his phrase “If I want to explore a new direction professionally, it is helpful to try it out for myself first“.
… and here is the close up of this stunning piece of work:
Marian always pushes the boundaries of the conventional design. Check out her outstanding design of TypeCon 2007 program, that includes 80 pages with the program details and 88 speakers bios. I really like the 3D structure on the cover and the poster that’s built with letters, intricately connected with each other:
Another Marian’s work that I find very beautiful is the identity and Call for Entries that she designed for Graphex 2006 — Canada’s Biennial Design Awards, organized by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada. She explained her choice of design with her decision “to focus on nature, and the things that we all have in common in this vast country: plants and insects“. She made the logotype from maple leaves and used all Canadian fonts.
She followed this beautiful application form with a stunningly designed Graphex catalog with a laser-cut cover that allows you to see through the underlying page of magnificent florals.
So if you happen to ask me what is it that I like the most in being Canadian, my answer would be very simple—I’m proud of this country that produced so many talented individuals: from the most gifted Canadian artist Emily Carr to the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry to the iconic jazz pianist Oscar Peterson to the eccentric Glenn Gould to the remarkable writer Margaret Atwood and to my most favourite singer-songwriters k.d.lang and Leonard Cohen. This list can go on and on and on.
If you need more reasons to visit Canada and perhaps never leave it again then check out Isabella Mori’s 26 Reasons why she’ll never leave Canada.
Happy Canada Day! :)