Dialogues: James Goggin

May 2, 2016

This interview with art director and graphic designer James Goggin is part of MAS Context Dialogues, a series of conversations with Chicago-based designers hosted by Stephen Killion.


To speak to James Goggin of his impressive portfolio of work is to speak of his influences, interests and, most importantly, his perspective on the role of graphic design in society. As a designer and co-owner of Practise, with wife and partner Shan James, he has worked with a number of notable clients including Phaidon, Studio Gang Architects, Tate Modern, Transport for London, University of Chicago, and Victoria & Albert Museum.

His career has taken him from Australia, where he grew up, to London, where he graduated from the Royal College of Art and started his studio in 1999. From London his family moved to Arnhem, the Netherlands, where he continued to work while teaching at the Werkplaats Typografie at the same time as being a visiting lecturer in history and theory at the ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne) in Switzerland. In 2010 he moved to Chicago to take on the role of Director of Design, Publishing, and New Media at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). Since 2013 he has returned to running Practise with Shan James, working with clients around the United States and in Europe, combined with teaching at Rhode Island School of Design.

Although his career might seem nomadic in nature, I believe James would argue that each move was very calculated and intentional. He would also be the first to say that his boundaryless career path has had a strong influence on the work he creates. His willingness to travel has made him a keen observer, and equipped him with the ability to be both resident and visitor. This duality comes through in his projects where he tends to both work within the confines of a place’s culture but also add something new to the story.

Interview published in May, 2016.

Mas dialogues james goggin 01

Book design, Ettore Sottsass and the Poetry of Things, Deyan Sudjic, Phaidon Press, 2015. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 02

Book design, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, Skira Rizzoli, 2016. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 03

Book design, Terra Foundation Essays: Picturing, Terra Foundation for American Art, 2016. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 04

Identity system, printed matter, website, David Kohn Architects, 2008, 2015 © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 05

Website design, Studio Gang Architects, 2015 (with Studio Scasascia). © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 06

Exhibition design and signage system, Tutti a Tavola, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Villa Reale di Milano, Milan, Italy, 2010 (with David Kohn Architects). © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 07

Poster campaign, City in a Garden, City of Chicago, 2014. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 08

Collage, A Loop in the Lake (Apologies to John, John, Stanley, and Mies), for the exhibition This is Chicago, AIGA Chicago, 2014. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 09

Poster, Radical Speculation, for the film series Image, Building, Object: Exploring Architecture & Design on Film, Black Cinema House, 2013. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 10

Lecture Series Poster, IIT Architecture Spring 2014, Illinois Institute of Architecture, College of Architecture, 2014. © Practise.

Mas dialogues james goggin 11

Record Sleeve, The Republic, Sam Prekop, Thrill Jockey Records, 2015 (featuring artwork by David Hartt). © Practise.

Intro Song

“Strella, Sing a Singsong to the Moon” by Studio Noir is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.