Hello! Please, introduce yourself and how did you start being a designer? What inspired you and where do you think it is going?I do design and art direction, currently I operate Taobot (www.taobot.com), and work for agencies like Scholz & Volkmer (www.s-v.de) as art director, formerly fulltime, but lately on a freelance basis to have more time for personal projects and to further develop Taobot, more soon… My work is very much centered around interactive projects at the moment, but I also do print and work various other design fields. Oh, I’m in 27 years old and live in Mainz, Germany.For the second part of your question, I’d say it rather found me. I have been drawing, did photos and operated electronic devices for all of my life, so I kind of grew into what I am today. It started with skateboarding, graffiti and small digital design jobs, and evolved into bigger jobs. Well, the fact that my father worked for IBM more than 30 years help to get around with computers pretty early in my life, too.For the third part, I’d keep it simple and say that everything can inspire me. Could be something I see while driving to work or a good conversation late at night in a bar. Regarding where design is going, that’s constantly changing in my point of view. What you can say though is that design work got to an insanely high level of quality and also complexity over the last few years, for several reasons. So maybe there is a stream towards more simplicity again, with a stronger focus on people’s needs and the main idea of a project. I know that you can’t generalize that and also love highly complex work, but look at Maedas blog (weblogs.media.mit.edu/SIMPLICITY) for example to get a better feeling of what I’m trying to say. One more thing I believe is that the success of a project will depend on the involvement of the user much more than on the actual visual design work, it’ll be much more about how people can interact with your work and whether they can actually be a part of it. I won’t even use some of the buzz words, but it’s something every designer should know, user generated content and interaction will be key, not only in the web but also in many other areas, look at how mobile marketing is slightly changing the way advertisers outdoor media campaigns work.
Speaking about your designing style. From where it comes? How would you call it? What is behind it? Some people that I talked to say that the could identify a style in my work, I for myself try to actually change my style all the time and try new things. I get bored doing one and the same style over and over again, thought it might be lucrative and it’s what most people would tell you to do in order to place you work within agencies art buyer departments. Anyway I like to constantly challenge myself and writing this interview, this weekend I again worked on a project for David’s (www.hellohikimori.com) L’Oreal site and found a new style that fascinates me quite a bit currently. Reduced but dynamic vector illustrations that is, by the way.
Illustrations, web or motion? Why?Mainly interactive design and illustrations with a bit of motion design as well. This is due to a fact that I work at an interactive design studio and also because that is what interests me the most and what I grew up with. I like the fact that users can interact with my work, which makes it so much more interesting and engaging. But I also moving a little towards motion, cause that’s all melting together anyway somehow…
Your current projects?I’m worked on the relaunch of Leica, then I art directed for ThyssenKrupp, a bit of Mercedes Benz and a little bit of Coke Light. Currently I work on mobile applications for a new venture by people from the MIT, some interactive projects for the American music industry and also Mercedes Benz. Plus the usual top-secret stuff I can’t talk about yet. In addition I also do a few personal projects, mainly for art exhibitions, magazines and stuff. I’m trying to work more in that field again and also to get a few more collaboration projects on the road that some friends and I have been talking about for a long time. I just finished illustrations for L’Oreal that I talked about earlier in the interview, a calendar page for Lounge72 (www.lounge72.com) and an illustration for IdN (www.idnworld.com). It’s a lot, the fun thing is that I really just had to look into my projects folder to get an overview… ehm, but I still accept challenges!
What would you do if you have a deadline and you are out of inspiration?Talk to colleagues and friends. That’s the best source of inspiration most of the time. If that won’t work I’d go out and try to talk to no one at all, just keep thinking and looking around, sometimes helps, too. Well and there is the usual creativity methods you find in any good book about the topic.
Tell us about work process, how do you start to work on your pieces? How much time it usually take? That’s different from project to project, but I think I can at least name a few things most of our projects got in common. If we work for commercial clients we’ll have a concept phase, usually I do the same with my art projects, but in some cases things there happen through sheer experimentation or coincidentally that are not entirely controlled by myself. So after the concept phase we’ll most of the time built screens and based on that, prototypes to see whether our idea works as it’s supposed to and to present our idea to the client. Then we’ll usually optimize our concept and screens, so we can go into production. Regarding our team, we try to have people from all areas involved during the whole process, which is mainly design, programming, text, and project management. Like I said this is also very dependant on the timeframe and size of the project, can be anything from a small team of 2 people working for a week up to 10 or more people working on a project for several months. Imagine a print poster written in Processing by myself versus relaunching a brand website all around the world…
What are your hobbies? I mean offline.I used to skateboard a lot, but my body won’t take it that easy anymore. I get more and more into photography, which is partly commercial though. I also like a good game or just hanging out with friends, having a decent conversation and a drink. Watching a good movie is also nice, especially on the big screen. Ok, to be honest, I don’t have any real hobbies besides my work.
You are traveling a lot to design events. What do you think it gives to you and your career?You meet tons of interesting people, creativity and knowledge is all over the place. If you are lucky, you’ll also see something of the city and country you are in and not only the convention center. So being at such events is a good way to get to know new technologies and trends very quickly from people that are responsible for their emergence. You’ll also have the chance to do lots of networking, if you are that kind of person. But mainly it’s a great way to get out of the office and meet old friends all over the world.
What would you suggest to young designers, what they should do for growing up?Don’t take yourself too serious, work hard, be open and breath in as much knowledge as you can. Also be open to people from other disciplines and question anything. I guess you’ll hear this quite often, but a good designer is much more than someone who just creates stunning visuals, non-design related skills and social abilities are very important.
Tell us about the place where you are located. Do you like it? Thinking to move?I live and work in Mainz, Germany which is close to Frankfurt. All of these cities are very close in one area there. I like Mainz a lot cause it’s close to a river and in one of the warmest parts of Germany, so it’s almost like Spain in the summer. People are very nice and relaxed too, so yes I love to live there. I thought about moving to Berlin, if I’d move within Germany it would definitely Berlin. I don’t see this happening in the near future cause I really like it here, though in the long run, I might move to Berlin or Barcelona.
Have you got many emails in your outlook? What people are sending and asking? Job offers also?People treat me very nice most of the time. They send kind words about my work, which is such a great feeling, it’s even better, than being in magazines and stuff, cause it’s so personal. Then there are magazines, exhibitions and request for interview like this one. Well plus project and job offers not only in outlook, but also through headhunters on the phone. There are many things I can’t do because we are usually pretty busy, but I try to answer any request and also do as much as a can because I certainly appreciate all of this.
If not a designer, then who?Anything, honestly, I’m interested in so many different things, I couldn’t pick one and listing twenty jobs here would also make no sense. This is why I do what I do, cause my job is so much more than design. I’m also a part time mathematician, programmer, manager, photographer, social worker and so on, at least in some kind of way. My job is changing all the time.
The most scary thing happened in your life?Your body acting in a way that it isn’t supposed to and stuff that is connected to personal feelings, loosing people, being disappointed, you know, no job related things just personal moments. I wouldn’t say that I actually had the great scary moments that change my entire life, like loosing a someone really close, that’s where things can really touch you deeply inside.
The most funny thing happened in your life?There is not one specific situation I remember, but many little moments and people around me that are a joy on a daily basis!
Thats all! Thanks. Please final comments…Do what you love, that’s so important! Thanks Andrey, I really enjoyed the interview.