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Graphic Design

Sean Steed

Sean Steed is a Swiss/Argentine Graphic Designer, Artist and Architect. Before coming to the Royal College of Art, Sean graduated from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, USA) where he completed a five-year Bachelor of Architecture with a concentration in Visual Representation and a minor in Fine Arts with a focus on Printmaking. 

During his time at Cornell, Sean received the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Award for his thesis work “Codification though Cartography” as well as the Robert James Eidlitz Fellowship to travel to Iceland to produce a series of analogue photographs and drawings. 

Selected Exhibitions: 

2019 – Typographic Singularity, Hockney Gallery, RCA, London (UK) 

2018 – Multilayered: New Prints, International Print Center New York, NYC (USA)

2017 – Solo Show: “Tomorrow is Looking Great”, Hartell Gallery, Ithaca, NY (USA)

2017 – Horizons, Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY (USA)

2016 – Solo Show: The Unfolding, Bibliovitz Gallery, Ithaca, NY (USA)




Degree Details

School of Communication

Graphic Design

Due to my architectural background, the combination of designing spaces and two-dimensional surfaces has made me comfortable working with a variety of scales and materials. This way of thinking and working has heavily influenced the way I see and tackle design ideas and problems.

My process-driven practice celebrates experimentation by testing the limits of both analogue and digital tools. Archiving every step of the design process from initial sketches to final design iterations is key to understanding the methodology behind my body of work. 

This typographic collection of works covers three principal themes: Traditional formal type design, dimensionality and movement. Even though three-dimensional forms and animations beg to be developed digitally, I always start the design process with physical drawings. Influenced by my architectural background, it is the act of constructing forms and calculating transitions on paper that enables me to have a clear vision not only of the overall concept but of the smallest of details as well. 

The digital realm naturally made me think about scale in a new way, as there are not necessarily any limits to work with, compared to the physical world where I am often limited by the edge of the paper. Exploring the micro and macro has been a theme in my work since my undergraduate thesis, experimenting with the notion of zooming in and zooming out. This naturally led me to consider density and unconventional grid systems. 

This interest in scale can be seen in my typographic works. The final body of work ranges from typographic drawings done by hand with black pen on paper, inspired by architectural construction drawings, to the painting of large-scale letters influenced by sign painting and graffiti.

Set 01

Set 02

Set 03

Set 04

Set 05

Set 06

Set 07

Set 08.01 – 08.03

Set 08.04 – 8.05

This ongoing experimental drawing series follows the design methodology inspired by “white box testing”. The process takes ideas which can be considered as the internal system and enters a variety of inputs through a series of tests to produce successful and unsuccessful outputs. Themes include traditional formal type design, dimensionality and movement.


Black pen on paper


A4 Canson gridded paper
AnalogueConstructDimensionalityDrawingGraphic DesignGridProcessTypedesignTypography

Frontal View


Originally drawn on a gridded A4 sheet of paper, the design was then translated into a larger scale (consisting of six panels painted with liquid acrylic). This process was particularly rewarding because of the mathematics and planning involved in the design. The geometric and modular design allowed for the grid to be scaled up accordingly. The typographic design consisted of points and lines so that the “blueprint” was easily translated across scales.


Acrylic paint on paper


2.40 × 2.40m

Frontal View


The Sail Series uses the structure and shape of the sails to define the rules and limits of the letter forms. Originally all white, the sails were painted orange, leaving the stitching visible to be used as construction lines to guide the design. In addition to the design process behind the project, the act of painting the large letters on the sails is a nod to traditional sign painting and graffiti.


Acrylic paint on damaged second-hand sails


3.00 × 1.00 × 2.60m

Upper Case

Lower Case

Stefan: Heavy, Medium, Regular and Light

Ligature Detail

Ligature Detail

Stefan is a display variable typeface inspired by architectural joining details. Thinking about letter forms in different scales naturally brought me into the world of variable fonts. By using grid systems, I was able to manipulate my type designs in multiple ways. Weight, compression, density, greyness and time are all themes that can be seen in my typographic works.

RCA2020 Glyphset

RCA2020 Glyphsets in Motion

RCA2020 Glyphsets in Motion

College-Wide RCA2020 Motion

College-Wide RCA2020 Motion

School Specific Motion

School Specific Motion — School of Communication and Arts Humanities

School Specific Motion

School Specific Motion — School of Architecture and Design

Complete Glyph Set

The modular components used for the visual identity ensured that it was responsive to various digital applications and screen ratios. It also allowed us to bring motion into the design, to reflect upon the online platform’s ‘liveness’ and to create an identity that is inherently digital. The motion helped further define and distinguish between the four glyph sets and therefore the schools, as each set adopted a unique direction.

The platform itself maintains aspects of the modularity initially used for the visual identity. We ensured that the students’ work remains the main focus of the platform, by carefully implementing the visual identity and making sure that the design is not overbearing.

In Collaboration with:

Toolkit – 210 × 297mm

Toolkit Set – 210 × 297mm

Glyphs – Vectorized

Refined Glyph Set

In order to create a cross-RCA identity, a series of short workshops were scheduled throughout the College, where students could draw and interpret the glyphs of ‘twos’ and ‘zeros’ by using a modular toolkit stencil. Workshops would inform the final outcome of the identity, generating an extensive archive of student submissions.

The toolkit contained a series of modular shaped stencils which created the framework for the students to work within. This allowed for a series of outcomes that carry a visual language and maintain consistency in identity whilst showcasing variation and individuality across departments and students.

In Collaboration with:

Entrance – Battersea Campus

Entrance – White City Campus

Leaflet – 280 × 360mm

Leaflet Unfolded – 280 × 360mm

WIP Outlined Glyph Set

Glyphs – Animation

Glyphs – Animation

WIP 2020 sought to reflect the work-in-progress spirit of the show, by displaying the initial loose experiments of the 2020s across all three campuses (Kensington, Battersea and White City) . The glyphs visually captured the unfinished nature of the show and its students' work whilst acting as a soft release of the final visual identity.

In Collaboration with:

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