An architect by training, Jakub Jezierski Pionty (b.1976) emerged from the graffiti and snowboarding scene at the end of the 1990s. He set up his workshop while co-creating Poland’s first ever lifestyle magazines, which include Fluid and A4.He created the new graphic layout for the monthly Exklusiv.
An architect by training he specializes in press design, typography and illustration.
Pionty has developed a synthetic style, whereby he efficiently plays with elements of popular culture and combines succinctness with calculated decorativeness. Pionty’s projects frequently assume the character of a visual game, in which highbrow and lowbrow content is placed side by side; on the cover of the monthly Architektura — the Kultura w budowie (Culture under construction) edition — we see a patch of white containing a schematic Frederic Chopin monument from Warsaw’s Łazienki Park contrasted with a shakily sketched red circulatory system inside the figure of a human body. In this way, Polish national culture is 'violated' by the trifling and seemingly meaningless intervention of the artist.
Even more provocative was Pionty’s poster for Michał Marczak’s renowned film Fuck for Forests; it features a photograph of a woman, in heavy make-up and wearing bright red nail polish, grasping the trunk of a lush palm tree with its phallic connotations.
The poster’s exaggerated colour scheme and message, which may be considered sexist and borderline pornographic (the film discusses how the porn industry could save the world), place it firmly in the anti-aesthetic trend which feeds off the trash style of the 80s and 90s.
Humour, irony, provocation and stylistic clashes are decisive factors in the popularity of Pionty’s projects. The attractiveness of these factors undoubtedly come from the artist’s refusal to use overly esoteric cultural codes, making his message accessible to a wide audience.
Pionty’s expertise in creating clear, resonant works, coupled with his ability to skilfully and subtly introduce pop culture motifs, have made his style distinctive and representative of all his works, including book publications and comprehensive corporate identity systems for cultural institutions.
Pionty began his career as a functional graphic artist when he was collaborating with snowboard magazine Dosdedos and lifestyle periodical Fluid. He was inspired by the experimental work of graphic guru of the American skateboarding scene, David Carson, and English graphic designer Neville Brody (former art director of the cult magazine The Face).
Pionty developed his fascination with avant-garde aesthetics and new means of expression while working on the layout of A4, a progressive monthly on lifestyle, fashion and art. This was the first periodical in Poland to promote an original and modern approach to comprehensive design and visual culture. For Pionty, the end of the 90s spelled creative freedom, and this formless context gave artists a sense of being pioneers in their fields of activity. Speaking to culture.pl, Pionty says:
I would cut things out, scan things, make collages and photomontages. There was a kind of nonchalance, a relaxed freedom to it all. Today we have to deal with a more established situation and a plethora of ideas.
Pionty’s interest in creating periodicals with an distinctive and synthetic visual character (which gives them 'object' status) continued with his work on occasional magazine Format P. The artist opened a more traditional workshop, where he created covers and layouts for books, including the catalogue for Sara Lipska’s first exhibition at the National Museum in Warsaw.
For design critics, the discerning feature of Jakub Jezierski Pionty’s graphic works is his inclusion of illustration. Pionty admits that before he started designing he had worked a graphic artist, providing illustrations for snowboard magazines. Today, he includes decorative elements in his posters only when the client is expecting an original touch. In practical projects he limits himself to functional forms, and 'decorative' features are used solely to develop context. Pionty sometimes draws by hand (e.g. as on the cover of Format P); for more geometrically orientated projects, where blank spaces dictate the construction of the image, he uses the Illustrator program. A series of postcards (wittily entitled French Psycho) are featured on Pionty’s website, and are now available for iPad. Pionty likes to experiment with applications for basic computer programming, and explores the possibilities of Brushes, and similar basic tools.
Jakub is one of the very few graphic designers to have had solo exhibitions which extend beyond the field of design. Together with his brother, illustrator Tymek Jezierski, with whom Pionty formed the design duo Brothers in Arms, he prepared an exhibition entitled VVariajce in the newly-opened Kordegarda Gallery in Warsaw. He had previously created a corporate identity for Project Kordegarda, and the exhibition — a 3D installation — was the result of this cooperation, developed to meet his own expressive needs.
Despite these successes, shrouded in enthusiasm as they are, Pionty values the limitations placed on the designer’s job role:
It isn’t my ambition to dazzle people with my compositions, to promote individualism. In these times of oversupply and excess production, I take a practical approach to my work.
NASZ project, prepared under the aegis of The Institute of Adam Mickiewicz remains one of the most interesting works by Jezierski. Inspired by traditional rug weaving techniques, he invited a famous weaver, Małgorzata Pepłowska, trained in the tradition of Polish Cepelia to work with him. Their cooperation results in a fabric designed by Jezierski and weaved by Pepłowska. Instead of painting a typical bucolic scene however, Jezierski opts for an almost apocalyptic rendition of an urban scape with a Godzilla running next to buildings in flames. Pepłowska commented on their work as follows: “By the end of this cooperation, I was so tired with all this, that I was dreaming about these godzillas. What was the hardest part? A man in motion, when he escapes the police, explosions, I also had a really hard time with this Mercedes”. (http://www.wysokieobcasy.pl/wysokie-obcasy/1,96856,15963000,Warszawski_grafik_i_ludowa_tkaczka_polaczyli_sily.html
Author: Lidia Pańków, September 2013. Updated AM, May 2016.
English translation: Garry Malloy
2002 – Cover of the Year award at the Chimera Press Design Competition for Fluid
2004 – Nominated for the PTWK’s Most Beautiful Book of the Year award for his layout of Historyjki Obrazkowe (Comic strips) by Marek Raczkowski
2007-2009 – Design and Project Coordinator awards from KPP Chimera for Fashion Magazine