It is hard to believe, but only a quarter of the core team members at the Ortografika graphic studio has a degree in art. The company — which for years has been creating corporate identity systems for businesses and cultural institutions and which has vast experience in the fields of web design and commercial design — mainly comprises employees who are self-taught.
It is hard to believe, but only a quarter of the core team members at the Ortografika graphic studio has a degree in art. The company mainly comprises employees who are self-taught.
'I didn’t gain much from my studies, […] self-study, self-development and learning on your own initiative are the most important things', says Bartosz Urbańczyk, Ortografik’s co-founder and a graduate of the Faculty of Information Technology at Łódź Technical University. Another member of the Ortografika team, Marcin Dąbrowski, talks about his own educational background:
I studied marketing and technical engineering, and neither has anything whatsoever to do with my job now.
Joanna Namyślak doesn’t hide the fact she is self-taught either — she studied philosophy at Łódź University. The "artistic" link in the chain is the fourth member of the team, Magdalena Lauk, a graduate of the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Łódź Academy of Fine Arts who also undertook training in Sweden and Italy.
The Ortografika Studio has been in business since 2006 and is based in Łódź, a location which has particular significance. Despite the fact that most of the company’s clients come from other cities, members of the team have a peculiar sense of local patriotism and enjoy doing work for cultural institutions throughout Łódź. This includes graphic design work for the Fotofestiwal (the Łódź International Festival of Photography), Regionalny Kongres Kultury (the Regional Cultural Congress) and the Owoce i Warzywa (Fruit and Veg) café. Marcin Dąbrowski describes the relationship with his city as a "love-hate" one, but adds: "more and more interesting initiatives are springing up here, and I think it’s a very good place for doing the kind of work we do".
One buzzword that frequently crops up in the graphic designers’ statements is "creativity". And it is this quality, coupled with a personalized approach to each project and keeping "on top" of the latest trends, that helps prevent Ortografika from being pigeonholed. The team is greatly dependant on not being pushed into any specialized niche. The studio works on an extremely wide range of projects, including the creation of corporate identities for trains in the Łódź province, producing catalogues and flyers for a manufacturer of children’s pushchairs, designing packaging for wines and liqueurs, and creating posters publicising jazz and classical music concerts. It has also produced corporate identities for the Festiwal Dobrego Smaku (the Good Taste culinary festival) and the Textorial Park business centre. Ortografika also creates CMS systems (website content management) and logotypes, calendars, posters and company-branded merchandise.
It is difficult to encapsulate the studio’s design style in one sentence because the diversity of work demands multiple ideas and solutions. However, here lavish effects and embellishments are never employed; there is no feast of colours and shapes. Ortografika’s distinctiveness is achieved through its use of simple forms and lucid sign layouts.
When it comes to the success of a given project, Marcin Dąbrowski, Bartosz Urbańczyk, Joanna Namyślak and Magdalena Lauk all agree that direct contact with the client is extremely important. It is also useful if the employer knows the aim and the sense of the enterprise: before beginning work, graphic designers often educate clients about standards pertaining to how a brand functions in the market. All of this is done to ensure that each graphic design, poster or logotype fulfils its task in the most effective way.
One of the most interesting and complex of their projects is the visual identity prepared for the Lodz Design Festival in 2012. Combination a black and white silhouette of a gorilla with splashes of pink and turquoise results in a fresh, clean design, which is both witty and catchy. The project consisted of numerous elements, ranging from website and catalogues design to curatorial boards and gift papers. For the green architecture studio Metuia Ortografika uses a very different approach. Here they operate within more subdued aesthetics, weaving black and white with a surprising leading color. They contrast soapy green with stark typography, creating a serious, yet very coherent statement. Ortografika is not afraid of being slightly old-fashioned: for Metuia they designed a wax seal stamp. Put together with an ultra-modern stationery this wax seal gains some utterly new and delicious aesthetical features.
In their CMS project for the STGU (Polish Association of Graphic Designers) website they took functionality to be their guiding principle, delivering a friendly portal, perfectly suited for large portfolio presentations.
2011 “Overdesigned”, Lodz Design Festival
2011 “Wektor/Pixel”, Łódź
Author: Anna Cymer, August 2013, updated AM 2016.
English translation: Garry Malloy
Read more about Ortografika at: www.ortografika.eu (Polish only)