Alisa Strub is a highly motivated Swiss graphic designer from St. Gallen. She participated in the project in fall 2018 with her winning 45 visuals entitled Space Junk, submitted while a student at the Academy of Art and Design Basel (HGK Basel).

“As a designer, I think you have to be interested in trends. You should go with what’s current, but also consider the historical parts of design.”

TPP45S Describe yourself in 3 words.

ALISA STRUB Ambitious, open minded, curious

TPP45S Describe your design aesthetic in 3 words.

ALISA STRUB Actually, I’m not at the status to describe my art or design aesthetic in 3 words, since I feel that I am not completely there yet. I’m still trying to figure it out, and I like to be experimental and open-minded by doing and trying various things.

TPP45S What was your response looking at the Phaistos Disc?

ALISA STRUB I hope my symbols are going to be this famous as well! 🙂

TPP45S Your winning project, Space Junk, is a thoughtful and compelling artistic response to the space debris, such as inactive satellites, still orbiting our globe. How did you develop the visual language for this project?

ALISA STRUB Most important to me was that my symbols should not only look visually nice, but also be readable and understandable for the viewer. 

First, I had to do a lot of research, eventually finding a webpage that gave me the needed data for all inactive satellites. After collecting, documenting and calculating the data from the nearly 300 satellites launched between 1961 and 2003, my visual concept was to create different shapes and combine them to build bodies of satellites. These shapes were designed by me, but determined by the data; for example, I created five different shapes to represent the mass of the satellites, ranging from 1 to 10,000 kilograms.

Translation of data.
Data of 292 reported inactive satellites.

TPP45S Of the 45 visuals you created, which is your favorite?

ALISA STRUB INACT 1968-4! I find it has a pretty nice shape. It reminds me of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite launched into space in 1957. And also a little bit of a Star Wars robot!

TPP45S What excited or surprised you most about your project?

ALISA STRUB While I was working on it, I didn’t actually know how it would look in the end, because all of the shapes are determined by numbers and other information I found. Of course, they are not totally random in design, but some aspects were dependent on the data points I used to inform my design.

TPP45S What part of the process challenged you the most? What part of the process was easiest?

ALISA STRUB The most difficult part of my work was to bring a large amount of data and a visually nicely designed object together, and make it readable as a single symbol that can completely stand on its own. It was also nice to deal with this given challenge and to not entirely plan it, but let it grow step-by-step.

TPP45S What’s your advice for artists submitting to next year’s open call to create a set of 45 visuals?

ALISA STRUB As long as you do something you’re interested in, you can‘t fail. I had never known about inactive satellites until my project, and I learned a lot by researching a little-known topic, and enjoyed it very much.

TPP45S What skills, competencies and values are most important to you as a designer?

ALISA STRUB As a designer, I think you have to be interested in trends. You should go with what’s current, but also consider the historical parts of design. I‘m very interested in many different artist and designers, and also in people involved in completely different professions. I want to get to know and learn from them. That is why I go to different talks, lectures and exhibitions, in order to meet people from all over.

TPP45S What do you see as the biggest change coming up in our world of design professionals?

ALISA STRUB The importance of social media is steadily growing. On one hand, this is an easy way to promote a designer’s work and to potentially get a lot of attention from a large number of people. On the other hand, the sheer number of impressions we’re confronted with on various social media channels on a daily basis often means that the beauty of each individual artist‘s contribution is overlooked. This makes it quite difficult to stand out of the crowd. I am very curious to see what the future will bring.

TPP45S What are 3 tools, programs or processes you couldn’t live without?

ALISA STRUB A pen (something to draw or write with), my laptop, and a camera.

TPP45S You’re about to graduate, so we have to ask—what are your plans?

ALISA STRUB At the moment, I‘m working on my bachelor’s thesis. Then maybe I will start my master’s degree studies in typography or photography. But first I have to earn some money! Maybe I’ll start working in a cafe or do an internship.

Alisa Strub
Alisa Strub is a highly motivated Swiss graphic designer from St. Gallen. Her work focuses on photography, editorial design and illustration. She attended the Bachelor in Art and Design program at HGK Basel.


Winning Project Open Call 18/19—Space Junk