Alex Trochut is an independent graphic designer and illustrator. He currently lives and works in New York City. Born in 1981 in Barcelona, Trochut is the grandson of the well known Spanish typographer and printer Joan Trochut, who developed the typographic system Super-Veloz back in 1942.
After working at different studios in Berlin and Barcelona, Alex Trochut established his own design studio in Barcelona before relocating to the United States. Alex Trochut has developed a perceptive way of creating, employing a vivid visual style that surfaces in comprehensive illustrations and design practices. He focuses on the potential of words as a visual medium, pushing any verbal expressions to the limits so that seeing and reading becomes the same process and word and image become one unified articulation.
rochut manages to demonstrate that typography functions on two hierarchical levels: First, through the image of language and, second, through its reading, translation, or interpretation. His works meander somewhere in between art and design, they combine typography and illustration. His typographic illustrations remind us of actual digital and vital paintings that seek to interpret traditional typography in a very modern and artistic manner.
Drawing inspiration from the people that surround him, Trochut has worked for a diverse range of brands such as Nike, Adidas, Nixon, Coca Cola, MTV, AUDI, or Mumm. Katy Perry, The Rolling Stones, and The New York Times have been added to his ever growing client base. However, his works are never purely customer-oriented, they are always striving to define the limits between arts and client-centered practice. The champagne brand Mumm, for instance, invited Trochut to participate in an interactive installation back in 2015. While he was operating his tablet, the process of his creation was projected on an oversized screen so that typography, colors, and forms came together and an accessible masterpiece of art was realized.
Alban E. Smajli: Before starting with graphic design, having your grandparents doing graphic design, did this particular heritage inspire you to go down the same path, of course, in comparison, adapting to a digital, technical and a rather modern atmosphere?
Alex Trochut: I think it was more like a genetic memory because I never met my grandfather. My father was working in something else. My father died when I was born, so by the time that I was thinking to study graphic design, I had really no idea what my grandfather did in relation to what I was going to do. My grandfather was a printer and at that time printers and designers were the same. I said to myself, that's what he did it and it had nothing to do with the things I was going to study. I was going to study the future and these things from the past had nothing in common with it. And then, I think it was the first week of my school, they saw my name and asked “Are you the grandson?” and I was like “Yeah, yeah I am.” My grandfather obviously was a big gun. And so, I guess, I got attracted to typography. But I wasn't really trying to follow his steps, I think, things kind of led up to connecting typography and illustration together in an expressive way.
My first internship took me to Berlin, I was doing my Erasmus over there and I had the chance to work with „Xplicit" and „Moniteurs", who are very type-based, rational design studios. They are specialized in sign design, less interested in expression, but more focused on effect and function. It was a good experience for me, back in 2002, and I spent six months with them. Then I moved back to Barcelona and started working at “Toormix,” that´s a studio in the same kind of field. After that, I switched to „Vasalla“ which is way more expressive. In 2007, four years of experience in different companies later, I started my own freelance career.
AES: What do you prefer? The traditional way of applying the pencil and working on paper or is it rather the digital pen and screen? I mean, nowadays there´s so much you can do digitally, like creating complete authentic scenarios that never existed. There are just so many devices and options that sometimes I feel like you get so confused by using these modern technical tools.
AT: I was always more of a mouse guy, that was my tool. From there, about five years ago, I stepped into the Wacom – which allowed me to work with a tablet.
Right now, because you can choose and you can get the best out of every tool, I find it is way more precise to work with just pencil and paper. Your hand gets way more to the point, for example the letter shapes.
At the beginning, I was just using computer from step one on. It was more of a “learn and leave” kind of process that led me to just go ahead and take the pencil and paper. Now I am using pencil and paper half way of the process and then, in the end, I go to the computer. Back in the days, it was not very popular to work with another tool, especially when I started in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But nowadays, it seems totally mandatory for any student to go this path, it’s a very good direction for education.
AES: After moving to New York, do you feel that the vibe of the city has now become part of your art works? How come you moved from Barcelona to New York?
AT: Life chances. You are looking for challenges in life and New York is definitely a place that is offering all these excitements that you may be looking for after some years in the same city. So if I were from New York, I would probably want to be in Barcelona.
New York inspires me a lot. Most cities and their cultures inspire me. It is not the physical content, it is the people. They are what really pushes and inspires you, because everybody is following some dreams here; and you just see that many dreams obviously come true and that is really what pushes you to do better.
AES: Are there any impacts that may have influenced the spirit of your work?
AT: I don´t think the city really shapes me that much, I think many of my references come from other sources like the internet. I really feel like I am a son of the digital era, I mean we´re surrounded by the same things, no matter if it’s Tokyo, Barcelona or Berlin.
AES: For Mumm, you created a packaging design for three of their sparkling wines.
What is the concept behind your art design?
AT: This was meant to be an event at an art fair. So we thought it was a good opportunity to do a visualization of the product from a more abstract point of view. Not very literal though, I'm not trying to do very figurative representations of a sort of champagne lifestyle. I am more trying to make a connection between abstract painting and bubbles. Kind of an art connection that is very settled, yet very open.
There are three patterns, every pattern speaks to a different note or flavor in every bottle, Rosé, Dry and Extra Dry. Rosé has pioneer notes and is less bold and Dry is a bit more splashy, has bigger shapes and Extra Dry is darker and seems stronger. These are the backbones, the concepts, but they are super open. And I thought the art fair kind of allowed us to create a project that was less thought for an audience in the supermarket context.
AES: How was the design process together with Mumm?
AT: The label came first. Because the final products, the bottles, were already brought to me. From there, we could translate them into many things and one of them was the installation.