Can any of us trust what happens online these days? That's the question posed by Duy Nguyen, a Vietnamese designer based in Germany whose latest poster series seeks to understand our complicated relationship with the web.
Titled Don't Trust The Internet, the bold and vibrant posters offer a chance for Nguyen to experiment and play with different shapes and colours while exploring the "extraordinary diversity of people online", as he puts it. They also act as a non-official public service announcement, urging others to be careful when they're logged on. "The internet makes it possible for us to connect with anyone anywhere. Despite its numerous benefits, it can also be a very dangerous place. The fact that we can pose as anyone means we face many risks, and one of them is cyber fraud."
Originally from Vietnam and now based in Hanover, Nguyen is a multidisciplinary designer focusing on identity, motion graphics and type. Part of Generation Z, also known as zoomers, he has never known a life without being online. "I do and don't like it simultaneously," he says. "I'm from a generation also described as 'soft'. We grew up with social media. Thanks to it, I can get in touch with inspiring people every day from everywhere and have the opportunity to expand my network as well. But at the same time, I often get mentally and socially drained by it."\
We can all relate to the constant push and pull of Instagram and Twitter, the urge to stay involved, but realising we need to step away. It's probably why Nguyen's series of posters seems so joyful. "When I was younger, most of my friends were made over the internet," he adds. "The community and the people I know from social media were so 'perfect' that I wanted to be like them and be a part of them. This unrealistic desire made me feel lost that I didn't even know who I was and what I wanted to be. And then one day I wondered, do I really know these people, who I have been talking to on the internet days and nights, and do they know me?"
Describing his style as experimental, bold, colourful and playful, Nguyen says he's inspired by his upbringing in Vietnam, which he says is "a notoriously busy country". "The colours I see on the streets, the people I've met, and the signature sounds I hear in my hometown, I always try to make my work as playful and colourful as possible," he explains. But it's a work-in-progress style, and one he admits is in constant flux. "I always want to experiment more and try to bring my work to life with various flavours and colours."
Aside from being a graphic designer, Nguyen is also the co-host for a Vietnamese podcast called Tây Du Ký where he sits with two friends to share stories and opinions of life. "Being part of this podcast helps me out with creative block," he says. "My inspirations come mostly from talking with different guests we invite for our special episodes. The more people we speak with, the more crazy ideas we can have, and I always try to put these ideas into my work."