Back to blog

Artist Series: Q+A with Mike Joyce, Graphic Designer and Creator of Swissted

We’re big fans of excellent design here at Mogo and have been working closely with a group of talented designers to bring you over 30 Mogo Card designs. In this blog series, we’ll profile some of the designers we’ve been working with, his or her latest project and showcase the limited edition Mogo Card design(s) created exclusively for the Mogo community.

The Mogo Card Artist Series

This spring, we’re thrilled to release the Mogo Card Artist Series with the first cards by world renowned artist, Mike Joyce. Joyce is best known for his graphic design work in the music and entertainment industry. He’s designed album covers for musicians like Iggy Pop, Katy Perry, Aretha Franklin and more. His latest creation is Swissted – a personal project recently turned into a 200-page book. 

In *Swissted: Vintage Rock Posters Remixed and Reimagined *(Quirk Books, $28) Joyce redesigns show flyers for legendary punk, new wave and indie rock concerts in international typographic style. Every single one of these shows actually happened and each design is set in lowercase berthold akzidenz-grotesk – not helvetica, as noted on his website. I’m partial to his design for Iggy Pop with the Ramones at the Palladium in 1977. But the Dead Kennedys in DC in ’85 poster is really great, too. 


Have a look for yourself at and post a comment below with the name of your favourite poster. We’ll select five random winners to receive a copy of Joyce’s new book. The draw will take place May 1st, 2013.

Q+A with Mike Joyce

In the interview below Joyce talks to us about the Swissted project, doing what he loves and collaborating with us on the Mogo Card Artist Series (being released this spring!).

Mogo: How did you get started as a designer?

Joyce: I was always into art and design for as long as I could remember. When I was a young boy I would constantly be drawing and painting. And even though I had no idea what graphic design was back then, I was really inspired by iconic things around me like the Mobil Pegasus, the Michelin Man, and the IBM logo. My friends and I were into skateboarding in the mid-to-late ‘80s, and even though I loved skating, I was actually more into sanding my board down and painting my own original graphics on it. I would also design records, posters, and t-shirts for some of the local bands around town—even tattoos. So I always knew I would do something in the visual arts for a living and when the time came to go to college I went to art school at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University. My instructor there was a man named Fred Troller, and Fred was a brilliant Swiss graphic designer who helped popularize Swiss modernism in the U.S. Back in the ‘60s and 70s. Fred was a huge inspiration to me. After graduation in 1994, I moved to New York City and have been a working graphic designer ever since.

Mogo: Your new book is ‘Swissted: Vintage Rock Posters Remixed and Reimagined.’ Where did you get the idea for the project?

Joyce: Basically punk rock and typography are my two favourite things. I grew up completely inspired by punk, new wave, and indie-rock and would later find that same inspiration in Swiss graphic design—more specifically the International Typographic Style. I always liked that these two movements seemed at odds with one another in that punk has an anti-establishment ethos and Swiss modernism is very structured. And at the same time there’s a common thread between the two—the Swiss modernists purged extraneous decoration to create clear communication, while punk rock took on self-indulgent rock and roll and stripped it to its core. So I thought it would be an interesting study to combine the two and see what happens. I really like how both art forms contrast and complement each other.

Mogo: You’ve designed hundreds of Swissted posters. Which are your favourites?

Joyce: It’s always tough for me to single out just a few because there are a lot of elements throughout each poster that I like, but if I had to choose based on the design, I guess I’d pick the poster I did for the British punk band 999. I really like the illusion of movement that the multiple overlays create and how it forges one unfocused nine out of three. And the three hulking numbers give the poster a lot of presence. I also think it’s a good example of what you can do with the limitations of black and white. And then there are others that I love for their incredible lineups like The Runaways and Suicide opening up for the Ramones at the Palladium in 1978, or the Minutemen and Descendents opening up for Black Flag at the Cuckoo’s Nest back in ‘81—three of my all-time favourite bands under the same roof of a legendary punk rock venue.


Mogo: What appeals to you about Swiss modernism?

Joyce: It’s funny — I have a bunch of Swiss posters hanging in my apartment from the greats like Josef Muller-Brockmann, Armin Hofmann, and Emil Ruder and I could stare at these things forever where that might bore the hell out of someone else. I think it’s how minimal yet effective they are. They somehow achieve perfect communication through abstraction. It’s kind of the opposite of how things are done today.

Mogo: What inspired the Mogo Card designs you created for

Joyce: I love that Mogo seeks out designers and artists to create original work for their cards and that they see the value in design for their product. So right off the bat I was inspired to do something that wouldn’t normally be seen on a Visa card. I thought it would be interesting to do something in the vein of modern art—abstract, geometric, and minimal—very similar to what I was doing with Swissted. But in this case, modern design would be carried in your wallet and I really like that idea.

Mogo: Any words for the aspiring designers out there?

Joyce: Yeah, I would just say do what you love. If you’re working on projects that aren’t creatively fulfilling, then come up with your own personal projects to fill that void. Or seek out clients, studios, agencies and people who are doing the kind of work that you want to be doing. Designers tend to get typecast in this industry so I always say it’s best to be pigeonholed into something you love and are proud of.

Love the Swissted posters as much as we do? Leave us a comment below with the name of your favourite poster and we’ll select five random winners to receive a copy of Swissted: Vintage Rock Posters Remixed and Reimagined by Mike Joyce. Winners will be chosen May 1, 2013.

What are you looking for?

What are you looking for?