Joseph Han


Joseph Han is a creative director at COLLINS in New York. He was previously an associate partner at Pentagram and a design director at Base design, leading a wide range of organizations including Apple, Google, Facebook, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Institute of Design, AIA Center for Architecture, Yale University, The New York Times, Storefront for Art & Architecture, New York Botanical Garden, Verizon, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, and Buffy. His work has been featured by international organizations including The New York Times, WIRED, Fast Company, Quartz, It’s Nice That, Type Directors Club, Gwangju Design Biennale, Counter Print, and GDUSA. Joseph is an honors graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and has been teaching seniors in the Graphic Design program at the School of Visual Arts.


Looking forward to 2023, are you optimistic about the role and impact of Graphic Design and Visual Communication in Business? Culture? Causes? Have the events and disruptions of the past few years changed the role or trajectory of Graphic Design?

The western origin of Graphic Design — the invention of movable typography and the printing press in 1436 — revolutionized how knowledge moved, allowing them to leap the walls of the church and the upper classes of Europe and eventually spread across the planet.

These past few years have seen the influence of graphic design expand globally, again. Instantaneously. That horizontal rectangle bracketed by two half circles with a message: “Face Mask Required” went up on every entrance to every public building in the world, in over 4,000 languages, to help save millions of lives from COVID.

This is only the most recent example of how Graphic Design shares key information. Graphic Design is and has been omnipresent:

  • It creates the flags we salute
  • It signals from the traffic signs that stop us on streets
  • It radiates the three consecutive quarter circles that signal we are online
  • It looks back at you from this piece of typography you are reading on this screen at this very second.

But the ubiquity of Graphic Design has led to the invisibility of Graphic Design. Its impact remains more profound than ever, but the real importance of Graphic Design is now taken for granted.

“Design is hope made visible” is a key axiom here at COLLINS. Hope points to new and better futures. Design builds the bridges to those futures. We aim to design in service of the hope that creates:

  • Not just a common flag, but a rainbow flag to advance human rights for all
  • The stickers and pins that motivate us to “vote” and then encourage others by wearing them ourselves
  • The phone interface design that connects us to the world with a touch
  • Three words: “Just Do It” set in Futura bold, all caps. Three words that make all of us feel like athletes.

2023 promises more incredible change in the realms of AI, the Metaverse, self-broadcasting, social media, the global economy and geopolitics. In short, 2023 holds a huge range of possible futures — the best of which require visionaries, builders and stewards to realize.

Graphic designers, at their best, can be all three. If we’re up to the task as a profession, the time is right for design to again play a pivotal role in shaping what’s next. To do so, we will all need to double down on what we do best: conjuring meaning from ambiguity.

Most influential graphic designer(s) or art directors(s) of the past 60 years? Of today?

László Moholy-Nagy, Charles & Ray Eames, Josef Müller Brockmann, Otl Aicher, Tadanori Yokoo, Muriel Cooper, Max Bill and Irma Boom.

Most influential graphic design firm(s), ad agencies, or in house departments of the past 60 years? Of today?

Total Design, 8vo, Mevis & Van Deursen, Wieden & Kennedy, Sulki & Min, and Bureau Borsche.

Favorite or most influential logo or branding project of the past 60 years?

The Olympics logo by Pierre de Coubertin.

Favorite or most influential design project or campaign in any medium for the past 60 years? Package, poster, website, advertising, publication design etc.

Helmut Krone’s “Think Small” Volkswagen campaign—specifically the “Lemon” poster.

Most influential product, service or technology of the past 60 years?

iPhone and the iOS ecosystem.