Humankind wins. Designing in 2021

IMPACT’s CEO, Nicole Webb, sat down with the company’s long time graphic design partner, Jason Geminis – Founder of Peppermint Digital, to shoot the breeze on designing during COVID and trends for the year ahead.


How long have you been working in design? 

I got into the industry in the early 90s working as a finished artist for a book publisher. We’d print type onto bromide paper, cut it up with a scalpel and then stick it onto a page grid. They started me off doing indexes, pages and pages of indexes. It wasn’t glamorous, but I knew I belonged in an art department. 


Where did you get your big break? 

In the mid-90s we moved to a new trend called “desktop publishing”. We each got a PC running Windows NT, a copy of Ventura Publisher and I took to it like a duck to water. Computers were slow and we’d have to create the type overnight to use the next day, but I absolutely loved it. 

Everyday there was a problem to overcome, but I felt as though I was on the cutting edge of publishing.  


What are you doing now? 

I now run a design agency called Peppermint that helps ad and public relations agencies with creative strategy. I also lecture in art direction and digital design courses at university one or two days a week. 


What are the most dramatic changes you have seen within the industry over the past five years? 

There’s been a couple that have changed the course of the industry, but the most dramatic is the rise of digital. Australian designers are some of the best trained in the world and most have had to learn one or two new disciplines like coding or animation in the last five years to stay competitive.  


Do you think Australia has great designers or do you think we are lagging behind the rest of the world? 

Australian designers are some of the best trained in the world with a diverse skill set. Back in 2018, I was telling my students that I felt the Australian design community was too conservative and verging on boring with their approach to strategy and storytelling.  

Not much has changed I’m afraid but I hope to see someone stick their neck out this year as businesses emerges from an extraordinary 2020. 


What were the big design trends last year? 

Humankind was last year’s theme I feel. The design community tended to centre around handmade type and bespoke illustrations with a distinct move away from the look of computer-generated graphics.  


Has COVID shaped the way you (and others) design? 

I follow a lot of creative directors on Instagram and my feed was full of human forms mixed with gorgeous hand drawn and organic inspired illustrations and type. There was also a sense of celebrating mother nature and the little things we take for granted. 


Has the COVID trend towards nostalgia/wishing life was simpler influenced your design (e.g. retro, pop art, psychedelia)? 

Absolutely, there was a revival of those styles from the 60s and 70s. There is also a richness and handmade feel to the artwork with less emphasis on perfection.  


What are you seeing as the big trends in design in 2021? 

I think 3D and animation will have their moment in 2021. This year it’s all about creations that pop out from the page and objects that you can interact with on screen. There are some easy-to-use 3D modelling and animation apps available now that are really powerful and don’t cost the earth to purchase. My 13-year-old daughter uses two or three of them on her iPhone to create TikTok videos without breaking a sweat. 


What is the one thing you would tell your clients to think about when it comes to design? 

Design is a collaborative process, and the success of a design project depends on building rapport and respect with your creative partner. If the relationship with your designer is purely transactional it becomes harder to create great designs. My success as a designer is based on the relationships I have with my clients.  


Author’s notes: 

Nicole and Jason worked together many moons ago at a company called Universal Press (remember Gregory’s and UBD Street Directories?). Jason has been working with the team at IMPACT since the company’s inception in 1999. We have produced many, many pieces of beautiful content together, including whitepapers, reports, infographics, presentations, rebrandings…the list goes on! 

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