Impression Studio: Project 2 Mini-Monograph Christmas Assignment and Research

During our Christmas break we were assigned a designer each to research. Our assignment required us to use our research to create a booklet for a make believe exhibition of our assigned designers work.For my research assignment I was given Karel Martens a dutch designer who studied at Arnhem Academy of Industrial Arts his work includes letterpress printing, book design and poster design. He has recieved many awards for his work as has taught in numerous institutions including Yale university. Martens also has a strong fascination with Mathematics and Optical illusions which have both had strong influence on his work over the years.

To start my assignment I would have liked to have been able to read his books but at the time I was away from London and couldn’t access the university library.

So instead I took to the internet in search of the elusive Karel Martens…..

As it turns out not so elusive there was a mass of information relating to Karel Martens online that I found very useful. The first website I visited was since I hoped to find an interview with Martens. I found a surplus of videos including interviews and ted talks. In these videos is where I was first able to come to grips with Martens process and Aesthetic.

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As you can see from the screenshots below Martens put vibrant colours to use and experiments with the mixing of colour in a variety of ways at a time. He also is seen using an iron screw printing press in the video, he incorporates this with his method of printing with found metal objects to give an industrial feeling to his work.

Martens had also worked on numerous publications from Sun a dutch socialist publisher and OASE Architecural journals. He used these publications as a way to experiment with his work as he had learned during the modernist period he wanted to create work based on his own taste.

I also visited numerous other websites that I felt would be a good source of information without worrying about any fabrication. I went to the Heineken Awards website to find why he had been given the award. Here I found some valuable information such as the award being given to him in 1996 and that the Printed Matter Monograph was a result of his winning this award.

From the Heineken website I also found that Martens had been awarded the H.N. Werkman Prize in 1993 I wanted to find out more about this and ended up finding one of his most fascinating projects the “Neutral” Telephone card.


For this project Martens was asked to create a neutral telephone card meaning it couldn’t have any political connection in any way it had to be completely neutral. I found his answer to this fascinating as he decided to use numbers from the dutch national anthem over lapping each other in different colours, you can find more about this here

The next step in my research came much later when I had arrived back in London I got to the library the next day to take a look at a book of Martens work call Full Colour.



I was also able to borrow a Counter Print from Angharad as well and with these two books I was able to get some good information and and I was also surprised at the different works in it ranging from very bright geometric shapes to black and white pixelated photographs.

Aswell as his work I also needed to think about how his work looks in an exhibition so I took a look at Martens latest exhibition at P! in NewYork 2016 on their website it was a good chance to see what kinds of scale he works on and he’s quite versatile in that way. You can find out more about his exhibition here P!

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At this point I felt like I had gathered enough information I haven’t included everything in this blog post as all of the information gathered has been printed in the booklet.


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