Introducing The Great Illusionists

2 x 22 year olds, 1,584 metres of tape, 80m2 of exhibition space, 26 hours’ graft and one great idea. Wizards of visual trickery, students Joseph Egan and Hunter Thomson recreated the most iconic symbol of our nation for Completely London’s Great issue…

‘The thing people ask when I say I’m a graphic designer is if I make websites and use Photoshop a lot,’ says Joseph Egan. He doesn’t. Instead, together with collaborator Hunter Thomson, he creates ‘anamorphic typography’ installations – or the clever integration of lettering and images into specific spaces. Egan and Thomson met on their foundation degree course at Chelsea College of Art & Design, out of which they created a video project that went viral and drew attention to the duo’s brand of oversized experiential graphic design. The video showed them creating the phrase ‘It’s More Than Just Print’ as a 3D installation. The design only becomes fully legible when viewed from a specific point of view.

In a respectful nod to London’s landmark year, Completely London commissioned the pair to create an oversized anamorphic installation of our greatest symbol, the Union Flag, made up of red, white and blue gaffer tape. Like their type installations, the whole flag is only visible from a certain angle. ‘Something this vast was quite a challenge and we enjoyed the physicality of it, the optical illusion on a grand scale,’ says Egan.

Serendipity brought about this talented team. They met in a library, where Egan was looking at the relationship between graphic design and architecture, such as projections on to buildings, while Hunter was trying to do something new with type in a geometric sense. Both were inspired by the work of the Swiss artist Felice Varini. ‘For us, graphic design encompasses everything. We like the idea that it is an experience. Just being able to walk into a piece of typography is something you’d never be able to do in a normal situation.’

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