A campaigner for the unconventional, Kia Tasbihgou discusses his latest typefaces
Last year, we were instantly gripped by Kia Tasbihgou type designs – drawn in by his distinctive personality and contemporary style that shone throughout his portfolio. Gracing our screens for the second time, Kia returns with a bunch of new projects and a fresh new perspective infused by a heavy dose of travelling.
Not only has Kia been moving around a fair bit – from Taipei to a two-month stint in London to his current residence in Portugal – the designer has also just finished up working with art director Alex McCullough from Whities on, his own words, a “handful of really fun sleeves.” He’s also been grafting on new type design projects, with plans to launch his own independent type foundry next year, and has even drawn some bespoke type for Warehouse Project, Salomon and Mana Contemporary, plus logotypes and lettering for Trix magazine and various other publications.
Clearly flourishing in his discipline today, Kia hails from a less-creative upbringing. He decided to pursue his studies at art school, a move inspired by sister who is also an illustrator and a key force in his practice. What’s more, his brother, graphic designer, served as a gateway for the young Kia to explore the realms of art and design. Both siblings informed his development as a designer, their influence leading leading to his first piece of album artwork produced at the tender age of 16.
Having spent just over a year away of London, the move has enabled Kia to breathe a little – giving him time to work on developing his style and method of practice without any immediate impressions. Admittedly, what he perceives to be as “good” design has changed quite a bit. “My biggest takeaway from living in the far East for a decent amount of time is just how interesting and engaging visual culture is there, and how little of that value depends on information I can’t read.” Attempting to explain his new-found process without sounding “preachy” or like a tale of, in his words, an “English dude speaking about his time in Asia wilfully positively”, he goes on to explain how “there’s a lot that Western designers, institutions and publishers (et al.) can learn from the East without co-opting their motifs, scripts and culture – American and Euro-centrism can be really toxic.”