Kimou Meyer, aka Grotesk, is a force to be reckoned with. Over the past ten years, the Swiss designer has worked with almost all the key players in New York’s brand underground, drawing on his classical training and outsider’s perspective to develop an iconic graphic language and style.
Having moved to NYC in 1999 to work for a European design agency, he has settled into the New York scene fairly quickly. In the process of discovering the unique visual language of the Brooklyn streets, things such as hand painted signs and sport logos, he found that his approach to design and the creation of his own work took a drastic turn.
“I think minimalist and efficiency is the Swiss way of communicating,” he reflected in an interview with The Hundreds. “You are surrounded by great design all the time, so I guess it’s a subconscious natural inspiration. It’s obviously a very strong inspiration for me.” But while his previous focus had been the design of minimalist catalogs, logos and branding systems, he found that there was a lot more fun to be had in creating t-shirts, skateboards and silk screens for his friends.
“How does a Swiss born, Belgian trained, graphic designer end up doing t-shirts for Spike Lee, collaborating with Bushwick graffiti vandals, and earning a Phd in vintage American sports uniforms?” reads his cheeky bio. Grotesk’s answer? “I think it’s a mix of many things. My parents were a huge early influence. I grew up in their woodshop where they were making scale models for architects. I was always drawing and building things with them. Then I got really heavy in the skate punk culture in the mid-1980s and then into DJ-ing and hip hop. I did a lot of flyers and zines in that time. That’s where I realized that I could make a career of design. I went to art school to study design and communication, as I knew this was my passion.”
With a bit of luck and bucketload of determination, his passion for all things design turned into a successful career. You’d want to take note: