Image by John Hook

Massin, the iconoclastic French graphic designer, once proclaimed that graphic design has developed in our contemporary culture to become both an inescapably identifiable element and an economic motor of prime importance. It may not always be overtly evident, but Massin was right about one thing: Graphic design is in everything. We have only to stop for a moment to realize just how prevalent its elements are in our lives. We can find these examples of what is perhaps most appropriately labeled “visual culture” in the various surfaces of daily existence, from the cups that hold our morning coffee, advertisements and magazine inserts to the decals on the back of a work truck whizzing down Maunakea Street. The permutations are seemingly endless.

Most of us are capable of discerning which advertisements are successful and which aren’t simply through observation of our responses to them. But when it comes down to it, what does it really take to create a successful campaign? Nestled in the bustling creative hub that is downtown Chinatown, the design firm Wall-to-Wall Studios is working to address this very question. Its creative director and founder Bernard Uy believes that the key lies in the method of execution, insisting that design is just one facet of the whole process.

Wall-to-Wall started in Pittsburgh back in 1992 when he and co-founder James Nesbitt came up with the concept for a comprehensive design company that would combine their talents in both communications and art. “There’s no denying that we are a visual culture,” says Uy, “but for us, it was imperative that we addressed what was really at the heart of our client’s needs – and that’s effective communication.” In turn, what started off as a traditional graphic design studio and illustration partnership has since evolved to become a branding agency for print, interactive, web and broadcast outlets.


“We couldn’t go in to this business, doing what we did, without having our client’s challenges and goals in mind,” Uy says of the decision to move the company beyond just design. “Otherwise, we’d just be doing something that’s purely along the lines of fine art.”

See the full article in our ART & DESIGN issue!