Tomasz Bersz, born in 1979 in Warsaw, is a graphic designer. He’s taken on many projects, including websites, visual identities, as well as books.
He graduated from College of Inter-Area Individual Studies In the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw, as well as from the Department of Graphic Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź.
He is one of the founders of BarszMisiak Collective, which he created with Marian Misiak. They worked together on font styles. Between 2009 and 2015 they created so called shipyard writing. It refers back to Gdańsk shipyard lettering. Bersz and Misiak designed letter patterns, as well as specialised placards with each letter printed on them, in order to mix them up and conjoin into words and sentences. They shared these designs on the internet for free, so that activists and other interested people could download them, print them out and use freely throughout the city. While talking about creating the font, they said:
Shipyard Writing stems from lettering found in Gdańsk shipyard in 2009. At that time we were looking for inspirations for the book that was being published by Wyspa Institute of Art. In this huge industrial facility, or rather what was left of it, we found hundreds of different attention signs and messages, amassed throughout the years of shipyard’s existence. They were mainly created using old, analogue techniques. They were hand-crafted, or created using templates, which left the marks of an anonymous creator. Sure, every sign was different, but you could make out some distinctive styles.
The font was designed for the project of visual identity of Alternativa 2016 festival. It’s all in navy blue and white, simple, without any geometrical oddities. The calendar 80 occasions in 2015, developed together with Malwina Konopacka, is an intriguing concept, as well as eye-pleasing piece of art. The calendar commemorates some interesting dates, such as MA defence of Stanisław Bareja. This work is kept in soothing blue-and-red palette, and each special date involves an illustration by Konopacka.
Bersz is also known for designing exhibition catalogues. For the exposition Urban Terrain Activities in BWA in Wrocław, he put together a project which connected vivid colours with black-and-white photographs. The book presents selected projects of Jakub Szczęsny with a commentary. He decided to use two theme colours in the publication – orange and blue. The album consists of a number of pages that are bound together in layers, with visible stitches on the spine, where he also adds the name and surname of the architect.
Among book designs by Tomasz Bersz we can find, among other things, A-Z. Illustrated dictionary of Polish and German. This book, authored by Andrzej Tobis, is a collection of photos taken mainly in Silesia, which illustrate dictionary entries from the dictionary published in Lipsk back in 1950s. The whole tome is enclosed in red cover with contrasting white lettering. It’s also rubberised, making it very ‘touch-friendly’, and connecting it with old-school dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Tobis comments on working with Bersz, saying:
It’s Tomasz Bersz’s idea. I really love the project, of course, the quality could be a little better, but I suppose you always feel that way after having finished something. Tomek is an excellent designer and he grasped the feel of the work rapidly. We had a little disagreement, sure – he wanted colours to be more vivid, lively, contrasting, while I opted for something more toned down, retro – as if referencing the original.
CITY WITH A SPRING. ARCHITECTURE AND SENSE PROGRAMMING 2013 Synchronisation, Bersz’s project from 2013 is characterised by a really interesting use of colour. Again, we can see one dominant colour and a clear, minimalistic layout. Blue, the colour of choice, is not only on the cover and to separate different parts of the book, but also to highlight the most important parts of the text. The pages are, therefore, filled with blue markings, as if the previous owner had marked it by hand with a highlighter.
Similar technique, as if from an old students’ book, was used by him in Something that approaches. 21st Century Architecture. The book, which accompanied an exhibition under the same title, was published by the National Library in Warsaw. Here Bersz uses orange to highlight important parts of the text, as well as to introduce new themes in the book. Titles of chapters are in bold and underlined with a black line. He also adds hand-drawn sketches of the most recognisable modern buildings, from the Foster skyscraper in London, to Herzog and de Meuron stadium in Beijing.
Selected exhibitions and awards:
2016 Places of Origin: Polish Graphic Design in Context, Reykjavik, Iceland
2015 TypoPolo, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Warsaw, Dizajn – BWA Wrocław, Poland