Creative Directors Shaping the Way We See

A million years ago—by Internet standards, in reality, it was 2011—Sight Unseen took a broad glance at the design world and recalled a trend they’d noticed years before. They deemed it “The New Ugly” and named art director Mike Meiré the movement’s champion. We’re reminded of that each time we look at branding now. Here are some talking points if you, too, have noticed this “defiantly awkward” style that’s become the norm, and don’t mind sounding a little snobby:

—Intentional Tension

—Refined Ugly

—Eery Meditative

For what it’s worth, this interest in disparity and uniting opposites exists everywhere: Kelly Behun’s interiors, Canal Street Market’s inspiration-filled Instagram, designer Walter Green’s work for Momofuku’s erstwhile magazine Lucky Peach, or artist Tanya Aguiniga’s sculptures. While we puzzle out what we think this means about our collective appetite for branding in a time where brands have never been more connected to their audiences, check out a few of our favorite creatives.

A post shared by Ashley Helvey (@ashleyhelvey) on


If you’ve loved New York’s shoppable apartment The Line, you’ll be pleased to meet Ashley Helvey, the brand’s editorial director. “Staging” an image isn’t quite the right descriptor for what she does; intuitive arrangement of forms, and how they relate to each other, is clearly her expertise. Working weirdness into luxury might be, too.

Location: New York, NY

Followers: 23.2k

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For @Wired’s digital life, Olga Monserrat breathes life into tech with composition and color we’ve not seen elsewhere. For herself, Olga harnesses natural light, almost as if she approaches its ephemera as a partner. For her clients—Cuyana, Starbucks, Mother Mag, Man Repeller, eBay, LinkedIn, sooo-o-o-o- many more—she never leans on the “what’s worked before”s.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Followers: 5,704

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Apartamento Magazine has been called honest, hip, devourable. Its founder, Omar Sosa, finds it to be “everyday life” and inspirational. By virtue of that, his pages and his feed diverge from stylized perfection.

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Followers: 10.2k

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The aforementioned designer on whom New Ugly once got pinned. Not that it’s ugly, but one of our favorite instances of him flouting convention? Posting the same image on Instagram from different angles like this.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Followers: 2,636

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A street style photographer’s eye is perhaps most like a moving speedometer needle, tracking upticks and slopes in trends. Darius Garvin’s portraits—and his seemingly relentless pace—make for a consistency that allows for little shifts here and there. His work is far from ugly—new or old—but it’s certainly real.

Location: New York, NY

Followers: 28.3k


A magazine concepted around citizen-as-artist, Disposable is run in part by Alaia Manley, the art director for Lisa Says Gah.