One is good, but two are better – so the saying goes. That popular expression personifies the combination of two great talented German designers: Mark Bohle and Nam Huynh, who joined forces and founded the Creative Collective N&MS.
Mark lives in Barcelona, where he teaches typography at the Visual Design master class at Elisava University Barcelona. Nam was visiting his pal in Spain when the Covid news started to blow up and close borders, in early 2020. As in many businesses – especially in the creative industry – the duo saw themselves having to put on hold projects, and losing clients one after the other.
“That was a very intense and uncomfortable moment for both of us. We knew that it was better to face this situation as a team, so we decided to set up a collaborative studio in the midst of the pandemic”, the duo tells TYPE01.
Since acting as independent designers, the creators have a strong background of accomplishments – and a mutual love for graphic design focusing on type. Nam is Stuttgart-based and has a scale of work that reaches from visual strategy, illustration, 3D-design, to experimental typography and animation. “Since I was a child I have always preferred toys and games that offer plenty of space for creative development. This behavior has gradually changed into an attitude where I only want to work on projects that feel like playing”, tells us Nam.
Mark, on the other hand, lives in Barcelona, and his artistic practice deals with pop culture, quotidian imagery, and historical references of language, writing, and iconography. His collaborative graphic work has gained several international awards like the Prix Nouveau at the Chaumont Graphic Design Biennial 2021.
“I wanted to become a graphic designer from early on but I didn’t know what this meant. Maybe I still don’t. There are so many aspects of being a designer. And I do agree with Nam. We like playing. Not necessarily in a childish way but in the sense of developing precise visual language by using peripheral imagery”, affirms Mark.
Bohle is the founder of the graphic shopping mall Good Buy! Dietz – a virtual shopping mall where every illustration costs the same as the identical real-life product. Take a mocha machine as an example, if it costs 25 euros, that is how much its illustration will cost. “The idea was my final degree work at university. The only difference was that there were no other artists involved in the project at the time, and it was me doing illustrations of different kinds of food, and selling it on weekly markets in and around Stuttgart”, he says.
It is, however, typography that pushed Bohle further in his creative career. “I remember myself copying graffiti from hip-hop magazines back in time. Then I started to paint murals. This was quite an intense period. I spent a lot of energy and time on this. At some point, I stopped practicing it but I kept on drawing. Nowadays I would say that the drawing practice is pretty essential for my work”, explains the artist, designer, and teacher, “and yes, I am interested in type, but I do not see this as a result of doing murals. What could be a reasonable touchpoint is that I have a certain fable for decorative elements. And this possibly is a result of doing murals. This being said, I also have to add that there is a certain magic about written words. Look at Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, or Joseph Kosuth. Text is the most precise kind of information, and yet it is so vague”, continues Mark.
N&MS: Two becoming One
Since the beginning of N&MS, a lot has happened. The duo won the Prix Espoir at the Chaumont Graphic Design Biennal 2022 and held their first live talk as N&MS in front of 800 people at the INTL Assembly in Glasgow, at the end of 2022. “We’re gaining more clients around the globe, who trust in our vision and are willing to accompany our experimental approaches”, they say.
As a lot of businesses that had their start during the pandemic – if we can say it’s over – N&MS is finding its space in the industry. In the meantime, Mark and Nam keep their creativity alive with personal and collaborative posters.
“I have a soft spot for poster design. After participating in several poster design competitions, I started a self-initiated project. So for the last two years, I have been working on a virtual poster exhibition in collaboration with Sebastian König, a creative coder, James Gilchrist, and Beth Wilson, who lead the INTL festival in Scotland”, says Nam.
For the close forsaken future, the N&MS website will also contain a webshop where you will be able to order the exclusive print edition and other physical products. “This shop will be the perfect meeting point, where you can see what we want to produce and we can see what you want to buy”, finalizes Mark.
At the moment, the N&MS website works only as a digital visit card, but you can find more about Mark Bohle on his official website, or Instagram. To see more about Nam Huynh, access his official page. Keep up with Nam’s recent work on his Instagram.