Art & Type: Justin Van Genderen

Justin Van Genderen, a.k.a. Justin VG, is a  young freelance graphic artist who is inspired by a childhood passion for comic books, science fiction,and superheroes.
He grew up in New Jersey, earned a bachelor of fine arts in Michigan, and is now charting his own pop culture trek to success in Chicago.
We got a chance to speak with Justin while exploring artists that used typography or words as part of their art. The Summer 2014 issue of Surround Yourself  was meant to show how powerful and artistic words could be. An artist could use words to engage viewers with or without the intent of doing so.  As a graphic artist, words and typography are a part of Justin’s work but they are not always the center. At times they serve as an indication that the viewer got it right, even if its not needed. Justin’s work often has the unique ability to help us re-imagine some iconic subjects. But he is equally capable of showing his audience something new.

What comes to mind when you think of typography?
I believe typography succeeds when it communicates exactly what the artist wants to say. With my background in design and layout, it’s just in me to communicate with words. Using them makes the message so much clearer.
How many of the rules of typography influence your work?

I run my work past the rules of typography—spacing, placement, white space, etc. Rules exist for good reason, but sometimes breaking them can make me see why I shouldhave followed them. When I can’t figure out which direction to head, the rules of design guide me.
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Some of your work is very minimal. Do you always think less is more?
For a long time, I had been doing very intricate art. Then one afternoon, I decided to go the opposite direction. It was a turning point for me as I began cutting images down to theirmost essential parts. But ultimately, what I strive for in all my work is harmony.
What influenced you other than comics and science fiction?
My comic and science fiction pieces are mostly nostalgic for me. I grew up reading comics and watching science fiction movies. But in the end, my themes and my series vary according to what I’m interested in. And I can’t really say where some of those interests come from. For example, one week, I’ll be infinitely interested in the space race between the U.S. and Russia. And the next week, I’ll be looking at how a certain texture looks when overlaid on a photograph.
Justin’s work is available for purchase in his gallery on Imagekind. You can also learn more about him on his personal website, 2046 Design.