Friday, 22 June 2007


The founders of Alter, Jono Wallace (front left on keys) and Dan Whitford (front right standing by) are not your typical creative services proprietors. Wallace is a designer who guest lectures at the Monash University Faculty of Art & Design in Melbourne, while Whitford is the front man for internationally acclaimed music act Cut Copy.

Alter was a concept in the pipeline since the design duo met at Monash University in 1999 but temporarily put on hold while both gained experience with leading practices Cornwell and Richard Blackman Design. The studio has since proved to be a winning design combination for Wallace and Whitford; they benefit from making every expression an opportunity – be it a one colour poster, a three dimensional display, a TVC or a website.

Whitford comments, “We’ve both got our strengths and they seem to generate interesting results when combined. Part of our approach is to accept that we live in a post modern world saturated with imagery and references so why not just enjoy it, celebrate it and swim around in it for a while.”

This acceptance of an overload of imagery is referenced in much of Alter’s work where images are cleverly layered and details are rich with graphic folly. Bold shapes, bright colours and a playful aesthetic are elements within the work that offer Alter a distinctive voice; a stark contrast and reaction to the minimalism expressed in the 1990’s. Alter collage and compositions are a departure from the tired doodles that dominate youth marketing. A balance has been struck between over-the-top and na├»ve images and forms, resulting in work loaded with reference, be it decorative, whimsy or wit.

Alter has carved out of a strong signature in music for cult brands like Modular Recordings, the Ministry of Sound and Virgin Festival. More recently Alter have demonstrated their creative application across mediums through their campaign for the MTV Music Awards. The diversity of their work also extends to the Portable Film Festival as well as ongoing projects for fashion stables including Levis, Adidas, Mambo, Stussy and General Pants.

The MTV project is a prime example of Alter’s expertise when executing a large scale campaign to communicate an overall concept for a brand. Alter developed the entire creative for the MTV Music Awards. Their work was applied on the show itself, TVC’s and currently airing on MTV Overdrive (new broadband TV channel). The campaign comprises of a number of visual elements including photographic imagery, illustration, animation and a TVC production of a carefully placed red carpet…

As identity design moves from being a curious aesthetic to a company asset, there is a trend for graphic design practices to behave more like a well oiled professional services machine, than workplaces for creative and subsequent strategic thinking. Alter is a studio that speaks through the work it produces and the people who produce it; which has grown since its inception to 4 designers and a freelance team. Wallace and Whitford’s youthful enthusiasm shines through their work as they communicate ideas with a very distinct balance of message, form, image and detail.

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