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Jan Wilker’s Top 5

Create Magazine asked Jan Wilker of karlssonwilker to pick his favorites in five categories of design: logo, branding system, wayfinding/signage/environmental, poster, and packaging. Below, he shares his choices and explains why they speak to him. (Are they among your favorites, too? Share your thoughts in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.)

LOGO: UHU glue
Designer: Unknown

While its simplicity seems to be from a different era, the shapes and colors do not. 

BRANDING SYSTEM: MTA / New York City Subway Courtesy Campaign
Designer: MTA Corporate Communications

I (and thousands of others) ride the subway daily. What we see is crude, unpolished, to the point—it’s how any public entity should communicate, spending dollars only for the essential, the necessary. (After all, MTA is a monopoly, but with major budget problems.) It’s refreshing to see it next to global brand messages. 

WAYFINDING/SIGNAGE/ENVIRONMENTAL: 1968 Summer Olympics
Designer: Lance Wyman

Lance Wyman and I are good friends. But we weren’t friends when he created designs for the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico. The supergraphics around the stadium and the exhibition booth are my favorites. We all know it, so there is not much else to say.

POSTER: Sports Design Exhibition
Designer: Martin Woodtli

This poster has been hanging my apartment for the last 10 years, with not much else on the walls. While the production (screen printing) is remarkable, and the sheer size of it overwhelming (128 by 90.5 cm), every time I look at it, I laugh. This is one funny poster. Disclaimer: Martin Woodtli is also a good friend of mine.

PACKAGING: Queen’s News Of The World LP cover
Painter: Frank Kelly Freas

When I was a young boy, I couldn’t stop looking at the album art of this record in my Dad’s collection. Why, why—I would ask myself—why is this robot hurting all these people (and so ham-handedly)? Many others went through the same, as I realized much later through an excellent Family Guy episode.

Are any of Jan’s top five among your favorites? Share your thoughts on his choices (and yours) in the Comments section.  

Jan Wilker grew up in Ulm, Germany. He studied Communication Design at the State Academy of Art & Design Stuttgart, where he graduated from in 2001. In late 2000, he started a new design studio, karlssonwilker, in New York, together with Icelander Hjalti Karlsson. They continue to work directly and independently for an eclectic mix of cultural and commercial clients, locally and globally. In the past, Jan taught design at SVA, Parsons, and Cooper Union, while nowadays, workshops are his preferred way of teaching. Jan is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and currently is its United States group president.