Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ilse De Jong (ID) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Ilse De Jong by clicking here.
Interview with Ilse De Jong at Thursday 21st of April 2016
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?
ID: I left school early, in an impulse, when I was 16. I left to go to the Junior Academy in Amsterdam, studying for advertising. Really happy how it turned out, could have been a really bad decision. At the Junior Academy, which mostly focusses on concepts, I learned how important all the details of the execution are, and I started loving design.
FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
ID: I love working alone, directly with my clients. I found it really hard to be creative at a company. Working alone makes me feel really connected to my work, it's mine from start till end. Of course you have to work with clients, but I love solving there problems. I love doing all kinds of design work, and I prefer the message to be real and genuine.
FS: What is "design" for you?
ID: Looking for the perfect balance.
FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
ID: I like it when there is no artwork yet, small companies just starting out. This way you can really make something, and help the client look for there identity.
FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
ID: No idea.
FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
ID: My first project alone was for a organic beauty therapist - C. cosmetics - a wonderful client that really knew how important design can be for your store. It was a great project for me to start with and since it's located in the center of Amsterdam I still get new clients of it sometimes.
FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
ID: My process always starts with an idea. This doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing, but it always starts with an thought, a direction. I like working with my hands, making things. It’s the best way to experiment (for me). The materials used in the end are just a coincidence of the idea.
FS: When do you feel the most creative?
ID: When I'm home, at night. I like working from my home, I had a few shared studios but when I worked there I was always aware of the end of the day, when to go home.
FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
ID: I like to focus on ideas. After that, you have to find the best way for the idea. The most simple clean version. And check yourself constantly, is the design still serving the idea, is this the best that can happen?
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
ID: When all goes well, it's the best. When all goes wrong, you feel like you've temporary lost your best skills.
FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
ID: No idea. Every project is different.
FS: What makes a design successful?
ID: No idea. Every project is different.
FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
ID: What's the message?
FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
ID: As a designer I don't feel responsible for these kind of problems, as a person I do. As a designer I just want to make people happy by looking at my work.
FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
ID: I know a lot op people think digital is the future, I still hope it is just a tool that will become less overhyped with time. I have no idea what the future of design is.
FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
ID: My last exhibition was at SBK KNSM Amsterdam. This was a group exhibition. I hope to have a solo exhibition soon.
FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
ID: Although I love to look at other designers or artists work, I try not get distracted. I'm a very curious person, I think this helps all of my ideas.
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?
ID: I think my designs are a combination between crafts and clean design. Crafts because I love making things, clean because a clean design is a design at it's best, and while working you try to get to this perfect clean balance where there are no missing details, and no unnecessary details eater.
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?
ID: I've always lived in Amsterdam. I don't feel like the culture affects my designs, but I am, of course, a dutch person, so you might see that in my work, I'm not sure. I like living in Amsterdam, its my home town! I'm not sure how 'designing in the Netherlands' is compared to other countries since I did not work there.
FS: How do you work with companies?
ID: I have a few companies I work with often as a freelancer, to do graphic design work mostly. For the first round I love to have some time, to really get to the heart of the brand with the ideas / designs. After that I show the best of them to my clients and from there on - if all goes well - its just finishing the details.
FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
ID: Clients should never get lost in design details. Some clients should trust there designers more.
FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
ID: Black books are the best. Every thought you have that is interesting should be in there.
FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
ID: I have no idea.
FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
ID: I start late and end late. Since I work at home I really like doing other stuff in between, take a step back from the work, evaluate.
FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
ID: You should get to the heart of your ideas. Where are they coming from, and why? You don’t have to tell complicated stories, but find the reason behind good or bad ideas and you’ll know where to go. Try to be original but don’t let it block you. Tell your own story, don’t go around on the internet copying shit you see, thinking that makes it yours. And don’t be lazy, check yourself constantly; could you do better? Really important; have fun while doing this, don’t get angry or impatient with yourself for doing stuff wrong - it’s supposed to be part of the process.
FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
ID: It's the best making money of being creative, I am really lucky I can pay my bills with this wonderful job. I love how your work is the center of attention instead of you, as for example if you're an actor. Your work can do the talking. Also, if I make something good, I feel really good about myself. Negative: If i don't make anything good for a while, it really makes me feel shitty. I really need my work to feel happy about myself. I don't see it as a problem, more as motivation.
FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
ID: I don't have one.
FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
ID: Instinct and vision. And all the good designers I know know how to draw. This does not mean I think you should know how to draw if you're a designer, I just think these are people that have a natural talent for getting things out of there head / who have a good eye/hand coordination.
FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
ID: I couldn't live without my camera, a Canon 5D, and raw documents. Raw documents are the best!! I also work with photoshop, love illustrator, hate indesign. I love spending my money on tools, my house is full of them. And one tool that is not really a tool is putting your computer aside sometimes.
FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
ID: I like to think I am great managing my time. If needed, I can work really fast. If not needed, I can be really lazy. If you want to deliver great work, you need free time as well. I think people work too much, 40 hours a week in the Netherlands (at least). I do not understand how people do this, especially if they have kids.
FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
ID: Totally depends on the project and my state of mind.
FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
ID: Where do you get your inspiration?
FS: What was your most important job experience?
ID: Working as a freelancer in general. When I first started I had some problems with a client, who really had not enough trust and wanted to change my designs for the worst, and when I advised against it he got some photoshop friend to do it. It felt great to tell him off, putting my creative happiness above his money (he later copied my design in the ugliest way possible).
FS: Who are some of your clients?
ID: Over the years I've been working on and of with First day of Spring - Strategic influencer marketing. Sometimes we don't work together for months but I really did a lot of nice projects with them. This is an example of a client who knows how to put there trust in my design, while still brainstorming with me.
FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
ID: I like it when there is no artwork yet, small companies just starting out. This way you can really make something, and help the client look for there identity. And my independent projects of course, since I can do what ever I want.
FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
ID: I am not sure. This project, Micro Matter, really got a lot of attention. All of a sudden my hours that are not booked by clients are worth money as well, I'm curious to see where it takes me, it brings me a lot of freedom.
FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
ID: I like to work alone, but sometimes I really miss a partner that is as involved as I am. Luckily I am in a relationship with an artist, so I can always get his opinion if I really need one. And I have a lot of creative friends that always have an opinion.
FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
ID: Not really. I'm still working on the Micro Matter project, at the moment experimenting with lights.
FS: How can people contact you?
ID: They can email me at email@example.com or give me a call at +31 (0)6 30 70 95 33. Must admit, when I'm working I am really bad at answering the phone.
FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
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