For the 2016 edition of Sonsbeek, titled transACTION, thonik designed a new visual identity in collaboration with Dutch artist Jan Rothuizen.
In 1948 when art event Sonsbeek was launched, its focus was the Netherland’s reaction and recovery from WWII. It is still concerned with contemporary issues and current affairs, and has more recently become synonymous with progressive and experimental art.
This year the show, titled transACTION, is curated by an Indonesian artist collective called Ruangrupa. They have a slightly rough identity – free and anti-institutional. The work they produce is sketchy, playful and rough. “It reminds me of punk fanzines from the 80s,” says Thonik co-director, Thomas Widdershoven.
For transACTION’s identity thonik collaborated with artist and illustrator Jan Rothuizen. Rothuizen provided hundreds of sketches, which thonik incorporated. But first, they manipulated the dots that frame the original Sonsbeek logo by dropping them down into a single horizontal line with a random rhythm. The arbitrariness sits well with Rothuizens’ illustrations, which are depicted in blue, like they have been roughly made from a regular blue biro.
The trick was to maintain a balance between the drawings and the typographic language.
“The trick was to maintain a balance between the drawings and the typographic language,” says Widdershoven. “The result is an adaptable system that can work horizontally or vertically depending on the medium. We use different illustrations each time depending on whether it is for the posters, the website, or trailers.”
Presented as a single visual, the transACTION identity works as an interaction between a graphic system and the very specific and recognizable authorship of Rothuizen. It beautifully captures Ruangrupa’s own vision of the event.