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Braulio Amado – The intersection of design and fine art

Does graphic design have a place in a gallery setting?

On the spectrum between design and fine art, the distinction of where one ends and the other begins is a point of contention for many designers. Some see the two as completely separate, while others consider them almost interchangeable. Yet wherever you draw the line, almost all agree that art informs design in some way, and vice-versa.

That line continues to blur as fresh approaches to design pop up across the industry. Contemporary designers are moving away from the structured approach of traditional design and embracing the free-flowing expressive approach of fine art. The focus is no longer on grids and best practices, but emotive response. This shift is being led by a new group of young designers who aren’t afraid to cross the line from a client’s board room to a gallery space. One of the most unique and interesting voices within this movement is that of Braulio Amado.


Amado is a Portuguese graphic designer living and working in New York City. His work spans a variety of media, from video work, to digital paintings to more traditional editorial design. He’s worked at renowned firms like Pentagram and Weiden + Kennedy, and recently came to Richmond to give a lecture hosted by VCU’s design school, and exhibit a show at the Anderson Gallery.

His designs are guided by a strong sense of humor, an influence that is often missing from the sterile world of swiss and minimalist design. Amado is instead the definition of a maximalist. His work utilizes strange compositions, bright gaudy color combinations, and caricature-esque figures. He finds inspiration in the mundane and is quick to show how a distressed chair can easily become a band poster.

During his lecture, Amado showed samples of work he had done for the New York times, Bloomberg Business Review and Weiden + Kennedy; all spaces with strong reputations for high design. Yet his work subverts expectations by completely ignoring the “rules” of “good design,” relying instead on bizarre imagery and textures jammed into a tight composition. The work seems almost out of place in an institutional magazine like Bloomberg. He underscores his philosophy by pointing out that a publication like Bloomberg could take a very traditional approach, but the interest lies in the convergence of two dissimilar worlds.

Braulio Amado is a great example of how we can use design to challenge the status quo and change our world. See some of his work here at sshh.nyc and badbadbadbad.com.

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