Interview with Jonas Gerber

Let us introduce to you the winning design for the Berlin Summer University of the Arts 2024, created by Jonas Gerber! Jonas is studying at UdK Berlin in Prof. Fons Hickmann’s graphic design class, with whom we run an annual poster competition for the Summer University. Jonas’ work is driven by a strong typographic interest and ranges from editorial design and printed matters to websites and type design. We had a chat with him about his design process and the inspiration behind it.


Let’s start from the beginning: How did you get into graphic design?

After school I had the abstract idea of doing something where I could see a visible result of my work. I then decided to do an apprenticeship as a media designer focused on printing, which taught me a lot about the technical aspects of graphic design and print production. This is something I'm now benefiting from in my more independent and artistic studies. During this time, I also developed a strong interest in typography, which is what I now focus on most intensively in my work.


How did you come up with the design for Berlin Summer University of the Arts 2024? What was the starting point for your design?

At the beginning of the project, we spent a few days in Sauen (Brandenburg), where the Berlin art schools run a manor house as a gathering space. During a walk in the forest, I noticed a constantly buzzing noise. This attracted me and I found myself standing in front of a row of beehives surrounded by countless swarming bees. Fascinated by this, I took some sound recordings and photos with my mobile phone. That was kind of the starting point for the design.


What did your creation process look like after this initial idea?

Unlike in most of my other projects. Usually, I begin with a typographic layer, and the layout develops from there. In contrast, the design for the Summer University started from the video material, and everything was then built around this footage. The entire composition and the way I set the typography relates to the movement of the bees in the video.


Does nature usually play a role in your design process and your designs?

Nature does not play a direct role in my work but influences it implicitly as being in nature and especially in the forest is a great counterbalance to spending long hours in front of a screen. I often make progress in design processes not while sitting in front of the project but in reflection during walks in nature.


What else do you take inspiration from and how does that influence your work?

I think it is more important for me to feel receptive to my surroundings than to actively seek for inspiration. When I'm relaxed, anything from a 20th century type specimen to an inconspicuous sound can be inspiring.

For example, I recently browsed through some old biology books from the 70s, which contain lots of interesting infographics and illustrations, and are generally within an exciting aesthetic spectrum. During the design process of the Summer University, I constantly had this aesthetic in the back of my mind.


Your design instantly conveys an idea of summer. What are three things that capture the feeling of summer for you?

Leaving the house in the morning without a jacket, hiking in the mountains and breakfast outside.


Thank you for the conversation, Jonas!