Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Chris Slabber (CS) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Chris Slabber by clicking here.
Interview with Chris Slabber at Monday 24th of April 2017
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
CS: I've always knew I'd be doing something in the creative world since I was a kid. It all just started with a lot of doodling and even more day dreaming, which for some reason always got me into trouble with school. Once I discovered "art" and that you can do this for a living I made up my mind.
FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
CS: I am a Surrealist creative specialising in Photo Manipulation.
FS: What is "design" for you?
CS: Its essentially a documentation of modern man. It will be able to tell future generations about our thought processes at the time. It would tell them what was important to us at a certain point in time. It would be able to show us/them the mistakes we have made in the past so that we can learn from them to improve the world through good design.
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
CS: Surreal,Experimental, digital art. I love creating artwork for movie posters or album covers. I think its to do with the fact that you have to take an entire script or album and compress it into a single image. My work walks a fine line between Fine Art and Commercial art.
FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
CS: Its hard to say, because I see awesome talent almost everyday online or in books, but on a personal level I'd have to say my entry for the 2014 A Design Award - Heazer - is my one of my favourites to date.
FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
CS: It was a logo for a furniture manufacturer called AMAVITA
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
CS: I work in mixed media. I think that each piece of work is dictated by the brief. But for the most part I use Photo Manipulation as a technique.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
CS: I think once my research for a project is done and the concept starts to emerge. The energy is overwhelming.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
CS: Concept value and strong execution.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
CS: If the inspiration is strong I feel on top of the world, but sometimes you have to dig deeper and it can be quite the battle, but its worth it.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
CS: Just good old happiness which is so motivating to work harder to be able to do it again.
FS: What makes a design successful?
CS: I always say if you, as the designer, can look at your own work and it makes you feel good, then you've done a pretty good job.
FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
CS: I would say balance. Does the design feel forced? Does it seem like one cohesive unit? Are the different design elements complementary to each other? So essentially good composition.
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
CS: As mentioned earlier, we as designers have the power to create a world of perfect balance, the trick is just to get the rest of the world to play along.
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
CS: I think after the past 7 years of intense digital media boom with all the social platforms design has become a bit impersonal. So i think design will be looking to adopt a more "hand made" approach in order to regain its place amongst the arts.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
CS: The last exhibition was February 2017 in Johannesburg. It was my first official solo show. The exhibition was titled - ENDO. It refers to the skeleton and the beauty of it. The works ranged from ink illustration, mixed media and photo manipulation. My next show will be in Cape Town in May 2017 and the a few more throughout the year in South Africa.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
CS: I go through a ton of design sites and books to get my gears going, but at some point I have to distance myself from those kind of distractions and just go out in nature, being it surfing or fishing or just a walk in the open air. Its amazing how much inspiration nature has to offer, because in my opinion, nature is the perfect balance of design.
FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
CS: Its very experimental. I love mixing media. I love mixing the abstract with reality. That tension between the two seems to evoke an exciting energy. My style is very textured based. I always try to make my work jump off the page or screen. My approach would be to follow my instincts and to trust my intuition.
FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
CS: I live in a small town at the Southern tip of Africa called Oudtshoorn. We're known for two things: Ostriches and the Cango Caves. I like the fact that its small and secluded, this helps a lot with the creative process for me. Way less distractions. Living in a 3rd world country does make it difficult to travel internationally, but with the level of internet today its a lot easier to maintain business relations internationally.
FS: How do you work with companies?
CS: For most agencies, I work online. Its super important to work out a good schedule to account for time difference, but sometimes if needed, I'll work in house.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
CS: I guess looking at the work he/she has done in the past and trying to get hold of a few of their clients to get a first hand opinion.
FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
CS: Start with a lot of research as much as you can. After that start to divide these into 3 "concept folders", and from there present your ideas to the client and see if they like one. Then its a matter of exploiting the concept to its fullest.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
CS: Camera, photoshop, Wacom tablet, light box and my cat.
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
CS: Wake up early-ish, have a cup of coffee and some oats. Go to the gym for an hour. Come home, shower and start the day's work. At the end of the day I like to do a bit of meditation. Then have supper and watch an episode or 2 of a series or I'd go out for a whiskey at my local pub.
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
CS: Forget the rules. I'm not saying go out and cause chaos, but don't make up your mind before you've even started. Be frightfully honest with yourself. Trust your gut, but be willing to make sacrifices when its the right one.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
CS: Positive: I love expanding my mind on a creative level. I love the insight one gets into the world. Negative: Not a lot of people understand what I do. I think most people just see me as some guy who draws pictures.
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
CS: Stay away from comfort zones. Challenge yourself.
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
CS: Having an open mind and to acknowledge good work when you see it. And also to always be a student of design. Design is always evolving and its important to be able to predict its possible future.
FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
CS: My macbook is stuffed with the Adobe suite. I mostly use Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier and Aftereffects, but I'm getting into Cinema 4D as well. My one pride and joy is my M.C. Escher book - it amazes me every time I look through it. And finally my environment. I'm surrounded by mountains, so there are so much to experience here.
FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
CS: You compensate and prioritise. You have to make quick decisions on what is more important. This can sometimes annoy friends and family.
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
CS: Till its done or when your deadline day arrives.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
CS: Do you do web design?
FS: What was your most important job experience?
CS: I think every job has experiences you can take from it. I feel that I learn a little more about myself every time I finished a job, especially when its a big one and your name is on the line.
FS: Who are some of your clients?
CS: GQ South Africa and NBA as permanent clients, but I have done work for: Mercedes Benz, Qatar Airways, Gordon's Dry Gin, Adobe and Huffington Post.
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
CS: I love movie posters and album art. I think its the fact that you have to compress so much information into a single image. Also print ads that require an extreme kind of execution - this enables me to push my skill levels.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
CS: Just to keep pushing and to get my name out there as an artist. I'd like to work on brands such as Nike or Red Bull. I feel that these kinds of companies have a better understanding of what good design can do for them as a brand. Also I wouldn't mind getting into designing movie posters for big production houses. It'll be an awesome feeling to walk into the cinema knowing that I helped to create a part of an awesome production.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
CS: It depends what I need to do for each project, but mostly on my own.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
CS: I'm currently working on my first Solo Exhibition, which is scheduled for February 2017. The exhibition will be a mix between hand illustrated work and digital art based around the human skeleton.
FS: How can people contact you?
CS: Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Portfolio: behance.net/csdandi Website: chrisslabber.com Facebook: Chris Slabber Instagram: Chris Slabber Phone: +27 82 381 5868
FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
CS: Just to all creatives, keep creating and know that you have the power to make your world beautiful. And thanks to my Mom and Dad for all the support.
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