Typo Lyon: The Shift showcased on large billboards, making a bold statement in the urban landscape.

Jo Iijima: A Creative Maestro in Typography and Design

Fun Facts about Jo Iijima

Jo Iijima, an avant-garde graphic designer, has left an indelible mark on the design landscape with a penchant for pushing creative boundaries. Did you know that Jo’s global upbringing, from Tokyo to Toronto, has instilled a diverse perspective that uniquely flavors his design approach? His love for exploring different cities worldwide has not only enriched his cultural palette but also influenced his design ethos, making him a dynamic force in the world of graphic design.

About Jo Iijima’s Winning Projects

Typo Lyon: The Shift

Prize: Best of Best in Brand identity / Branding
University: ArtCenter College of Design
Lead: Jo Iijima

Jo’s masterpiece for Typo Lyon, an international conference on typography, takes the stage with “The Shift.” The typographic system, extending the stems of all letters, not only mirrors typography’s anatomy but also invites visitors to “expand” and “shift” their knowledge. This dynamic visual identity, with unexpected shifts in letter combinations, creates an immersive experience at the conference.


CONSEQUENCES Zine cover featuring The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence note.

Prize: Best of Best in Consumer & popular magazines / Other Print
Prize: Winner in Social responsibility Focus / Social Responsibility
University: ArtCenter College of Design
Lead: Jo Iijima

Jo’s activism shines in the CONSEQUENCES Zine, crafted for a non-profit gun control advocacy organization. The shattered typography across salmon-colored pages vividly portrays the impact of gun violence, emphasizing the never-ending pain. Articles and infographics, referencing police reports, contribute to a poignant narrative that demands attention and action.

88rising Rebrand

88rising Rebrand cover featuring a shadowy guitarist against a vibrant background with rebranded colors and fonts.

Prize: Winner in Brand identity / Branding
University: ArtCenter College of Design
Lead: Jo Iijima

Jo’s rebranding prowess takes center stage with 88rising, a media collective promoting Asian talent. The “Rising Super” logo typeface embodies growth and inclusivity, inviting artists and audiences to contribute. The dynamic typography transcends cultural boundaries, fostering inclusivity and amplifying important voices in the Head in the Clouds Festival.

Exclusive Interview with Jo Iijima

1. Fresh from your recent win at the C2A Awards, can you share how the recognition has already influenced your perspective on your creative journey or business endeavors?

Jo Iijima: Winning the C2A Awards has been a significant influence on my creative journey. The exposure and global reach of the awards have expanded my audience, allowing me to connect with a diverse range of creative individuals. The recognition has strengthened my commitment to creating more culturally relevant work and using my unique perspective to address my voice throughout my design.

This award has had a profound impact on my creative path, inspiring me to continue pushing the boundaries of what I can achieve as a graphic designer.

2. Let’s rewind to your journey through the submission and evaluation process for the C2A Awards. What were the standout moments, challenges, or surprises you encountered?

Jo Iijima: My journey through the submission and evaluation process for the C2A Awards was a valuable creative experience. Focusing on detail is crucial in creating designs that not only look visually striking but also convey a compelling message. Challenges included crafting designs that immediately captured the viewer’s attention in a highly competitive field, which encouraged me to push my creative boundaries.

Tickets for the 88rising Rebrand project, featuring vibrant colors and dynamic typography.

3. Creativity is a mystic force. What fuels your imagination, and how do you approach the creative process?

Jo Iijima: My journey as a graphic designer began with a passion for exploration that has always driven me. Growing up in and experiencing diverse cities worldwide, including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Vienna, Toronto, and New York, has enriched my perspective as a graphic designer. This exposure has allowed me to appreciate diverse design styles and graphics found in different cities and incorporate them into my work.

My love for creating art started in childhood and living in different countries further honed my eye for details of each culture, which led me to the world of typography and graphic design and a keen focus on the album artwork for musicians. With a strong desire to explore new places and things, I approach each project from a unique perspective, finding inspiration in the world around me and channeling it into my creative work.

4.Navigating the twists and turns of a creative career often involves overcoming obstacles. What are some challenges you’ve faced, and how have you tackled them?

Jo Iijima: In my creative career as a graphic designer, a recent and recurring challenge has been crafting designs with meaningful messages. To tackle this, I’ve diversified my sources of inspiration, drawing from music, travel experiences, and conversations with people from various backgrounds. I aim to incorporate a range of cultural perspectives to create designs that resonate with the audience, brightening their moments and making them beautiful. This approach has helped me consistently find impactful messages in my work.

5. The ink on your C2A victory is still fresh. In what ways do you anticipate the award impacting your credibility and reputation in the creative industry, and how do you envision leveraging this recognition as you move forward?

Jo Iijima: Winning the C2A Award was such an honor. I plan to leverage this recognition as a platform to amplify my design perspective on a global scale. By connecting with like-minded creative individuals, I aim to foster collaborative projects in the future, further solidifying my presence and influence in the industry.

6. Networking and collaboration are integral to growth. Have you already seen opportunities or partnerships emerge as a result of your C2A win, and how do you foresee these connections shaping your future in the industry?

Jo Iijima: Networking and collaboration are essential for professional growth, and following my C2A win, I’ve been proactively connecting with many creatives. These connections hold the possible collaborative projects that transcend boundaries and bring diverse perspectives together, leading to innovative and impactful work.

These connections, fostered by the C2A award, are poised to shape my future in the industry by opening new creative opportunities, expanding my reach and influence, and enriching my portfolio with diverse ideas and experiences.

7. Immediate effects aside, do you foresee winning the C2A Award influencing the demand for your services or products soon?

Jo Iijima: The C2A Award has heightened my visibility and attracted inquiries from potential clients and collaborators, thanks to the credibility associated with the award. I am looking forward to the new opportunity through this award.

8. As a recent C2A Award winner, what aspects of the experience have you found most valuable, and would you encourage others in the creative industry to consider participating?

Jo Iijima: I strongly encourage fellow creatives to participate in the C2A Award. It offers more than just recognition; it provides exposure and a chance for personal growth. This experience pushes your creative limits, encourages innovation, and connects you with a vibrant and talented community of creative individuals.

Social media accounts showcasing the excellence of 88rising Rebrand through dynamic and versatile branding.

9. Looking ahead, do you see yourself applying for the next edition of the C2A Awards, and what aspects of the competition would motivate you to participate again?

Jo Iijima: I am motivated to join again for the branding and social responsibility category for more personal and professional growth as a designer.

10. Staying current is an ongoing challenge. How do you currently keep abreast of new industry trends, and are there any emerging trends you’re excited to incorporate into your work?

Jo Iijima: Staying current in the design industry is an ongoing challenge I tackle with multiple approaches. First, I keep a close watch on emerging technologies, with a particular focus on AI, which is revolutionizing design and creative processes in many ways. Second, I believe in the power of human connection and continuously seek fresh perspectives by engaging with people from diverse backgrounds. This combination of technology and human interaction ensures that my work remains innovative and resonates with a wide audience.

11. Future gazing: what plans and aspirations are on the horizon for you, and how do you anticipate your creative journey evolving?

Jo Iijima: I’m eager to work closer that ties with the music industry, merging design and music to create impactful visuals. Additionally, I plan to continue culturally engaged, continuously seeking diverse perspectives. I am excited for my personal growth, and contributing to cultural moments in design.

12. Zooming in on your recent triumph, what inspired the winning project you submitted to the C2A Awards?

Jo Iijima: I always strive to connect typography with meaningful ideas that inspire thought and engagement from the audience. My focus lies in creating compelling narratives through dynamic typography that surprises and offers fresh perspectives to the audience. My willingness to take risks brings a fresh perspective and dynamism has shown in my projects. In the Typo Lyon project, I employed a typographic system called “The Shift” which expanded the stems of all alphabet letters, reflecting the anatomy of the typography itself.

This system was incorporated into an interactive experience where visitors could expand their knowledge and shift their perspectives on typography. In the CONSEQUENCES project, typography was used to convey the devastating impact of American gun violence.

Pages from the CONSEQUENCES Zine displaying data on shooters' age

The shattered typography throughout the zine visually represents the idea of bullets shattering bones and minds, while the continuous travel of a bullet across the pages signifies the never-ending pain and tragedy associated with such violence.

Map graphic in CONSEQUENCES Zine showcasing shootings across the United States.

For the 88rising rebrand, the original logo typeface, “Rising Super,” embodies growth and inclusivity with its negative space in the corner, allowing both the artists and the audience to contribute to the completion of 88rising. The dynamic and versatile typography aims to elevate important voices and transcend cultural boundaries.

Outside advertising boards displaying the 88rising Rebrand in a vibrant and dynamic layout.

13. How did you hear of the C2A and what made you decide to submit your project?

Jo Iijima: I heard about C2A from my creative peers, and I submitted for the global recognition for my work which opens up to connect with new people.

Jo Iijima’s Legacy in Design

As we wrap up this exclusive insight into Jo Iijima’s creative realm, one thing becomes evident—the fusion of cultural richness, innovation, and a daring spirit defines his approach. Jo’s designs are not just aesthetically pleasing; they are narratives that provoke thought and inspire change. As Jo Iijima continues to make waves in the design industry, his journey serves as a beacon for creatives seeking to break molds and redefine the landscape of graphic design.

Watch this space for more as Jo Iijima’s creative journey evolves, leaving an indelible mark on the ever-evolving canvas of design.


More about Jo Iijima and Typo Lyon: The Shift:

C2A – Jo Iijima (ArtCenter College of Design) – Best of Best in Brand identity / Branding

Jo Iijima – CONSEQUENCES Zine More:

CONSEQUENCES Zine – Best of Best in Consumer & popular magazines / Other Print (Magazines, Newspapers, Calendars)

Jo Iijima – 88rising Rebrand:

88rising Rebrand – Winner in Brand identity / Branding

Jo Iijima – More:

Jo Iijima’s Official Website

Other C2A Winners:

2023 C2A Winners