This is Matt Olin.
He’s really not as serious as he looks.
Last fall, as part of his MFA in graphic design at the University of Minnesota, he fused his passion for superheroes with his design prowess. Using only letters, Matt created some amazing typographic posters of superheroes. Check them out:
These posters were part of his MFA thesis exhibition at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Tweed Museum of Art.
Since his show in December 2011, his collection of what he calls, “Superhero Typographic Classifications,” has drawn nationwide attention. His work has been featured on Wired, Mashable, The Washington Post, DesignMilk and Quipsologies, to name a few.
Yeah, he’s pretty cool.
Get your own Superfont
To top it off, his prints are now being sold on Fab, a website that features inspiring products from the world’s up-and-coming designers. The prints are only for sale for a really limited time (just like superheroes, who make appearances only when truly needed). His prints sell for $30, and he receives part of the profits, which is cool because I’m hoping he’ll buy all of Flint Group’s offices a years’ supply of Chipotle burritos. (Yeah, just let that sink in.)
Amid all the hoopla, I nabbed him to ask him a few questions about his work. Check out the Q&A below.
Where did your inspiration for this project come from?
In 2011, while I was finishing my master’s in graphic design, I was noticing a general lack of appreciation for, and understanding of, good branding. I wanted to capture various aspects of a designer’s profession in a unique way that would appeal to a large audience. Since most everyone knows of Superman, can recall his logo, and knows what he stands for, I thought it would be fun to relate a superhero and their “brand” to a bigger idea.
What did you hope to accomplish in creating the posters?
As the project unfolded, I was hoping to do three things: create clarity about a designer’s profession and the knowledge/skill behind it, educate about design’s importance and its part in a larger picture, and inspire people both in and out of the industry.
It is true that you own every superhero movie made?
No, I do not own the Green Lantern.
How long did it take to create each poster?
One semester, divided by 60, minus 24+ hours/week of work, 8+ hours/week of teaching, grading, moving into a new house, unpacking, spending time with my wife, raising a puppy, watching Dexter, writing a 50+ page thesis paper, flying to Colorado for Thanksgiving, and sleeping (occasionally).
What do superheroes eat for breakfast?
This question is too vague. We all have different diets depending on our powers and needs. Plus, a lot depends on how late we were out saving the world the night before. For some of us, we can enjoy a sit-down breakfast prepared by our butler (*cough* Bruce Wayne *cough*), but for others, we have to accept a quick, less elegant meal, or even breakfast on the run. (The Flash has some great solutions for on-the-go breakfast foods. Look for his new line directed at busy working professionals at a store near you.)
What have you learned throughout this process?
We all have great ideas and information to share, and it’s just a matter of getting your thoughts out there and allowing the world react to them. I was humbled to have a well-attended opening reception last December and have my show extended in its gallery space for more than a month. Everything since that has been crazy.
If you were a superhero, what power would you have and what would your name be?
My most sincere apologies, but I unfortunately can’t share what my superhero name would be (or, for that matter, even what my power would be). If I ever were to be – or already am – a superhero, this post would give away my secret identity.
Which poster is your favorite?
The first poster I created was the Dark Knight using Gotham. There was an obvious connection between the hero and the name of the typeface, as well as their shared popularity. That’s my favorite for its nostalgic reasons, but they all hold a special place in my heart.
Who is your favorite superhero and why?
If I had to narrow it down to one, I’d say The Flash because I always thought he balanced being a regular guy with having some pretty awesome abilities. But we don’t really like to pick favorites in our secret industry; it creates too much competition among supers and has historically generated negative repercussions.
Are you going to create more posters, even though your thesis is complete?
Yes, I’m working on a villain series and also have plans to create more superheroes. I recently designed the Joker using Comic Sans (both are seemingly funny yet are really pure evil) exclusively for Fab.
Anything else you want to say?
This work was the product of having an idea and running with it. It’s opened up the doors to continue exploring the topic and I’m beyond humbled and grateful by the public’s response.
Thanks for the wonderful Flinterview.
You can see more of Matt’s work on his website, Behance and Dribbble. He also takes really cool pictures on Instagram, has been seen (read?) on the Twittersphere and would love to connect on LinkedIn.