ERICH BRECHBÜHL — Interview
Erich Brechbühl [Mixer] is a Lucerne-based independent graphic designer.
— Hello Erich how are you?
It’s an exciting time. I’m looking forward to our exhibition about Contemporary Swiss Graphic Design at the Cooper Union in New York I’m organising together with Noël Leu and Xavier Erni that will start in September. Right after that we will have our next edition of the poster festival Weltformat in Lucerne starting September 24th including up to 10 exhibitions and several side events, followed by various exhibitions in Korea and China in the end of October.
— Can you introduce yourself?
I’m a graphic designer based in Lucerne focused on poster and corporate design. Besides that I engage myself voluntary as president of Weltformat and art director of the cultural center Neubad located in the old municipal swimming pool of the city of Lucerne. For our vivid graphic design scene in Lucerne I started regular exchange meetings called «Show & Tell» to foster the local network. Together with some friends I also co-founded the concert venue «im Schtei» in my hometown Sempach for which I design all the posters since 1997; the next will be my 200th.
— Where does your interest in graphic design come from?
As a teenager I was already fascinated about visual arts. With my father’s video camera and my friends from school, we were making short movies for which I also created the posters. After school I decided against a career as a filmmaker because I saw more potential in graphic design to see regular results. First I made an apprenticeship as a typographer in a printing company to learn the technical stuff. After that I had the opportunity to do another apprenticeship at the studio of Niklaus Troxler in Willisau. He actually was the person who opened my eyes. He never told me how graphic design should be done, he taught me that doing graphic design needs an attitude. He is still my biggest influencer.
— You co-founded the Weltformat festival. Can you tell us more about it?
Since 2003 the head of Fachklasse Grafik Urs Strähl and some local graphic designers showed the touring exhibition «100 best Posters – Germany Austria Switzerland» exclusively in Lucerne. In 2009, when I joined the executive board, we founded Weltformat to show also other exhibitions on the topic of poster design. Our rich graphic design culture in Switzerland should finally have its own annual forum where designers can meet and also learn from the works of designers of other countries. We are still working on achieving this goal. A few weeks ago we just created our own office to professionalise the festival organisation.
Two years ago we also started to organise different exhibition projects abroad. Starting in Russia and Germany we also showed exhibitions in France, Korea, Japan and China. We were realising there is a huge interest in Swiss Graphic Design worldwide, so we’re happy to embrace that.
Our organisation is still mainly based on voluntary work, so also people from outside of Lucerne are welcome to join us.
— Would you like to explain to us one of your projects?
I always like to explain my workflow based on the poster «Between me and tomorrow» from 2012. This poster was created for a play of the Youth Theatre of Sempach, which I also co-founded. It’s a coming-of-age story located at a public swimming pool. Several young adults are talking about the problems at their age.
I’m always searching the essence of a play to create an eye-catching poster. In this example I decided to use an image of a single water wing losing air, showing in a simple way the transition from childhood to adulthood. Because a photograph was not very catchy, I illustrated it using the gradient mesh in Adobe Illustrator in a hyperrealistic manner. Because of that it was possible to use a luminous orange instead of dull CMYK colours. Placing the illustration as big as possible in the poster format, I made sure that the poster looks bigger than other posters hanging in the neighbourhood.
— Do you have a favorite typeface?
I don’t. For every project I’m searching the appropriate typeface. The typeface is my main foundation on which the mood of a project is based on. So I always have to choose wisely.
— A designer that you admire?
My former master Niklaus Troxler and my good friend Felix Pfäffli are the designers I admire most. Both of them inspired me a lot in my own work. Their curiosity in finding new visual expressions helped me also to go further and don’t stagnate.
— Is there a book which opened your eyes about design?
I don’t think so. I was always more influenced by fellow designers. That’s why I’m very interested in exchange events.
— The last word…
You’re all very welcome at our next Weltformat festival that takes place from September 24th to October 2nd at various locations in Lucerne!
Pictures and projects by Erich Brechbühl.
Interview: Dennis Moya + Tiffany Bähler, 06.16