Jonathan Fryer

Slovenia’s Visual Identity

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 3rd October, 2012

The graphic designer Miljenko Licul first made his name working for commercial and public companies in Tito’s Yugoslavia, but it was Slovenia’s declaration of independence 21 years ago that really provided him with a niche. Born in Pula, Croatia, Licul had by then been living for some time in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana and he successfully tendered for a succession of freelance contracts awarded in open competition to design what have become the visual symbols of the new state and therefore its visual idrntity. Much of his work is currently on show in the atrium gallery at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD) near Liverpool Street, pride of place being given to his design for the Slovenian currency, the tolar, some of which I still have, even though they were taken out of circulation when Slovenia joined the eurozone. They were remarkably elegant banknotes (as well as meeting the stringent requirements of difficulty to forge) and notably portrayed writers, artists and musicians, not political figures. This small central European state (which dislikes being incorrectly referred to as part of the Balkans) puts great store in style and beauty, a context which gave Licul the freedom to be creative even when designing such banal items as health insurance cards. His widow, Barbara Jaki, Director of the National Gallery of Slovenia, gave a well-deserved tribute to her late husband’s work at the launch of the EBRD exhibition this evening. Few individual graphic artists can have left such a distinctive legacy; not only distinctive of his style, but also distinctive of Slovenia.

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