Designer Spotlight: Johanna Lian Olsen

Designer Spotlight: Johanna Lian Olsen

The marriage between functional and aesthetically pleasing design can be a tumultuous one, and it takes a talented artist to integrate the two thoughtfully. Johanne Lian Olsen, an internationally renowned graphic designer, has perfected the art of making a statement through clean yet impactful design. Working with brands such as Nike and IKEA, Olsen has created a unique visual language that is recognizable in not only her professional work but her projects as well.

She began her studies at Oslo University College where she earned a degree in art and design, shifting from her initial interest in fine expressive art to practical typography and design. In a recent interview, Olsen said this change occurred when she signed up for her first typography class and began to learn the hard and fast rules of type design. This passion for structured typography is still seen in her work today, but Olsen always discovers new ways to bend these rules within her now-established personal style. She often plays with the weight and height in both preexisting and newly-created fonts, testing how these differences affect the viewer’s perception of the work.

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Type design became so integrated into her life as a designer that Olsen even began to create fonts as gifts. Drawing inspiration from the receiver’s personality and physical appearance, she would design a completely one of a kind gift. When combing through her catalog of font design many of them speak for themselves, sending subconscious pieces of information about the overall design before the message being conveyed is fully understood. 

One of her most profound projects explores the other side of famed Las Vegas mega-casinos, titles “Backside of The Strip, L.V.” Olsen’s images capture these landmarks in a less-than-glamorous way, presenting ordinary details that are too close for the average person to see. When looking at this collection, it’s easy to think how did I not notice this before? Her work carries the mark of a great graphic designer – making the seemingly common or minimalistic aspects of life and art seem extraordinary.

Now working as a freelance graphic designer, Olsen continues to release personal projects and maintains a relatively private life. However, her signature style speaks for itself as her work remains to be used around the world.


To learn more about Johanne Lian Olsen, visit her website at