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Interview with Przemek Hajek

Home > Designer Interviews > Przemek Hajek

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Przemek Hajek (PH) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Przemek Hajek by clicking here.

Interview with Przemek Hajek at Friday 10th of June 2022
Przemek Hajek
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?
PH: I didn't want to become a designer when I was a child :-). My artistic education and career have taken many twists and turns. I was interested in photography, image, looking at the surrounding reality through the camera. I took entrance exams to the film school, I wanted to make movies. I didn't get accepted in the cinematography department and I had to "hunker down" not to be forced to join the army. I completed a year–long course at a post–secondary school where I learned traditional photography, drawing, all kinds of manual work... and finally I enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz. In the meantime I was a scholarship student in Finland and Denmark. After graduation, I did not want to return to Poland, I started planning my future in Copenhagen until one day my professor called me and invited me to work as his assistant at the Academy. At that point in my life I decided that I couldn't turn down such an offer. I packed my things, came back to Lodz and started working at the Academy. Now I am an academic teacher myself :-)

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
PH: I run the Graphic Identification Studio at the Strzemiński Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz and I am in charge of the POWIDOKI magazine. I have my own studio at home and I try to do my own projects in the meantime, although there is not enough time for everything.

FS: What is "design" for you?
PH: Design for me is an adventure and exploration of the world. Every project is different and with every project I learn something and meet new people – this is a great value. I like what I do.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
PH: I like the design process, coming up with ideas, sketching, thinking, observing, looking for answers... I like paper...

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
PH: I really like designing for cultural institutions. For years I have been cooperating with various publishers, institutions, theatres. For several years I have had the pleasure of creating POWIDOKI at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz and this project absorbs me almost 100%. So without any doubt POWIDOKI is my favorite project.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
PH: I've been dealing with visual communication for over 20 years – there's been a bit of that. I think one of the first commercial things was... an advertisement made for a company in a national magazine. But who remembers that.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
PH: Graphic design is both printing and digital world. I like digital and I have (probably) had most projects (webs, apps, web campaigns, social-media world) in this area. I love printed stuff, so running the POWIDOKI magazine gives me great joy and is a breather from the digital world.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
PH: In the morning when I run, while driving and late at night. I need to have space to think.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
PH: Certainly what is crucial is thinking out of the box, brainstorming. When you have good and interesting ideas, you can bring them to life through a variety of means. You have to look for inspiration and things that motivate you to act and think.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
PH: Excitement, fear, also uncertainty... a mixture of all extreme emotions :-)

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
PH: Happiness.

FS: What makes a design successful?
PH: It is a combination of many factors. Consistency, determination and above all confidence in what you are doing.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
PH: Hmmm, I never look at it that way. Designers realize their projects for someone, the customers in my opinion are most important. At every stage of your work you have to think about what and for whom you are designing, it's part of our job.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
PH: It is great! There is a saying: when you want to change the world, start with yourself. Everything we do has an impact on the reality around us, so in every possible aspect of our lives we should think about it and if possible put it into practice. Now we have released an issue about ecodesign where there is plenty of talk about the designer's responsibility.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
PH: Recent years show that change is inevitable and very fast. Technology determines many life processes, including design. Let's remember that automation of processes is a great facilitator. There is a human behind everything, a person who has feelings, emotions, needs... All of this should be skillfully combined. .

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
PH: My latest exhibition took place at the Philharmonic Hall in Lodz in 2019 and showcased the collection of posters designed for cultural institutions. The next exhibition (I hope) will take place at the Academic Design Center at the end of this year. There is a number of interesting projects and proposals. Hopefully, it will be possible to show the output of POWIDOKI magazine and its history not only in Poland, but also abroad.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
PH: Inspiration comes unexpectedly. Sometimes you read an interesting book, meet someone, talk about something interesting... I have a few rituals: first of all running, travelling and the morning coffee. I like to stare at the sky, at trees, the sea and think. :-)

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?
PH: I used to think that I did not have any distinctive style. Over the years I see that many of my designs have something in common... I analyze it all the time. Design is changing along with me. I used to think differently when I was 20, I have a different approach to the world and design when I am 42, a dad, husband, etc... Currently, I consider design to be task-based and I am constantly looking for space to implement my own ideas, projects that arise from an internal need.

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?
PH: I live in the middle of Europe, in Poland, near Lodz, in the forest. I feel the heritage of Lodz, the modernist orientation of our academy... I consider myself a citizen of the world, Europe. There are many bad things that are happening in Poland. I don't identify with them, I try to move forward, find solutions, not to get upset by politics. I believe that it will be better, I try to be optimistic about the future, though sometimes it is really hard.

FS: How do you work with companies?
PH: It depends, usually they are specific commissions for designing a book, cover, brand campaign... More and more often I am invited as an expert, which makes me really happy.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
PH: It depends on what kind of company it is. If we talk about large, global corporations it is usually tenders and competitions. How to choose a good designer? It is a difficult question. In my case it is based on working out communication and understanding with the client, a certain process – this is where I see success. If you want to go against the flow, get your own way, without considering the other side, you are doomed to failure from the very beginning. If there is a chemistry between you and the other party, many adversities can be overcome, just like in love.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
PH: It is a process. I don't like to think about one thing for a long time. I sketch, I look out of the window, I listen to music. Sometimes I postpone something... and suddenly after a few years I come back to it. I'm in a constant design process. Each designer is a creator.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
PH: A piece of paper, a pencil, an ipad, and maybe a sofa.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
PH: It depends on what kind of day it is. If we're talking about, for example, Monday, a workday, I get up around 7:00 a.m., take the dog for a walk, make some quick oatmeal, drink coffee, drive my son to school, go to the academy to have classes with students, then I drop in to the publishing office for a couple of hours, figure out what needs to be done, have a quick lunch, pick up my son from school, arrive home, spend time with my family, go for a walk with the dog, go jogging. In the evening I go to the studio and depending on the amount of work I stay there until midnight. I try not to go to bed late, I prefer to get up in the morning. Since I have had my own garden, coffee in the morning on the grass tastes delicious and makes my day.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
PH: Be consistent in what you do and don't give up. Every failure is an element of success. Listen to people and work on yourself. Life is full of surprises.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
PH: The positive aspect of a designer's work is certainly a kind of creative freedom and the moment when they can actually taste, touch what they have designed. If people like it, that is happiness. The negatives... as in any job, some things become routine and you need to work on them and look for new challenges. Being able to manage your time is crucial.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
PH: Approach each project as if it were your last project.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
PH: Definitely the ability to visualize your ideas, your thoughts. You have to work on every part of yourself all the time.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
PH: Pencils, scissors, a camera, laptop, scanner, printer, adobe package, design books, albums...

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
PH: In the case of the POWIDOKI magazine, the design process for one issue lasts several months. Each issue is devoted to a different subject. You need to build a narrative, collect material, make a layout, selection, then come up with a concept based on the materials received from the authors. It's a team work, although I am in charge of the creative process.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
PH: How long did it take me to work on one issue? This is a common question.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
PH: How long did it take me to work on one issue? This is a common question.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
PH: Working with students at the academy was the most important experience, though I also ran my own design studio for many years and hired people. I find that period very important in understanding the design market.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
PH: Book publishers, theaters, galleries, festivals, in general, institutions related to culture.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
PH: I love the beginning of a project because there is always the thrill of what will come out of it, whether I can handle the subject matter.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
PH: I would like the POWIDOKI magazine to gain recognition in the world. I believe that with a good team we can do a lot. The magazine has become a fantastic space for bringing together artists and designers from all over the world.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
PH: If we talk about POWIDOKI, the magazine is created by a team. For the past few years I had been working with the editor-in-chief Marta Ostajewska, who built the content of the first 6 issues with the help of content editors. Since 2022, I have started cooperation with Bogusław Deptuła and Izabela Bloch. I am the person who not only designs the layout of the magazine, conceives the communication and promotion campaign, but also co-creates the content, looks for and invites the authors. I feel responsible for this project, so every aspect of this magazine is important to me. If any problem appears – I take action.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
PH: We are currently dealing with photography and animation. We are working on successive issues. We are preparing for the promotion of the 6th issue of the magazine, dedicated to ecodesign. We are organising meetings and exhibitions.

FS: How can people contact you?
PH: I invite you to visit the magazine's website www.powidoki.asp.lodz.pl and our social media channels (facebook and instagram).

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
PH: I would like to invite everybody to read the artistic and scientific magazine POWIDOKI published by the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz. It is really worth it!


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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