Today, we are joined by Viktor Hertz , he is a Graphic Designer . You can view his portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
I tried out graphic design first time in high school- we used Illustrator 7.0, I think. Since I’ve never been really good at drawing, I remember the satisfaction from being able to make perfect lines and really zoom in on details and get everything perfect. Then I never really took this up again, until about seven years later, when I started playing around making ad busting parody logos and my own movie posters. Later I made a project called ‘Pictogram movie posters’, which attracted some attention on the Internet and also in some books and magazines. This publicity gave me my first paid freelance jobs, and about a year later I could make a living out of my design. Since then, I’ve been freelancing full time as a graphic designer and also had my own exhibitions with my personal artworks. Recently, I’ve also started writing and directing short films, with focus on satire and comedy.
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
After high school, I just taught myself and read and watched tutorials online. In 2010-2011, I took an evening class at Beck man school of design in Stockholm, which was two nights a week for a year- we got to try out bits and pieces from many different areas, including photography, illustration, animation, among others. Now, I just try to push myself and broaden my technical skills, trying to learn as many different styles and techniques as possible. Most of the freelance assignments I get, are often very close to my pictogram style in my early personal artworks, so I always try to fill my portfolio with various styles and illustration techniques.
What does your creative process look like?
For most of the time, I start with just looking at and browsing through lots of icons and other visual information, gathering and looking for shapes that hopefully can give me some ideas for new objects or images. Many of my personal artworks build on previous, already existing symbols or shapes, and then remixed or combined with something else, and comes out with a completely other message. That’s the goal, at least! I make rough sketches directly in Illustrator, and just gather all the material and look at it, until something comes to mind. After I get an idea, it’s just a matter of how much time and technique it needs, to be realized. Usually, the graphics themselves are not very complicated, although I try to push myself to learn new ways of doing things. My art boards tend to get a bit messy during the process; I copy and paste new versions all the time, dragging and dropping stuff wherever. I’m always trying out as many variations as possible, and just sit and look at them for a while; usually it’s easy to feel what my eyes are drawn to, and what they prefer, when lining up a number of alternatives. It’s also a good thing to zoom out quite a bit, sometimes- just to get a wide perspective on the work, and see if it works from a distance.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
Hmm, not really- I use Illustrator and sometimes Photoshop, and lots of free vector material (see next question). I don’t have any particular tips for books or software, but what I can recommend is to image google your ideas before you start working on it, just to make sure it hasn’t already been done before. I’ve had to waste lots of ideas, after seeing them already been realized.
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
A lot of my works, both personal and commercial, contain material from The Noun Project (www.thenounproject.com), which holds thousands of pictogram; some are public domain and 100% free, and others can be licensed. This is not only resource in terms of material for me, it’s just as much a source of inspiration, just looking at different icons and symbols, which usually gets my creativity going and gives me ideas for ways of making new objects with new meanings. I really like just browsing through all kinds of images and just see what I can come up with, it’s very exciting and relaxing at the same time, with no particular direction or purpose.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
I have to admit, I am a bit of a slow starter, so I usually really get going for real about midday, if I don’t have any urgent deadlines, of course. When freelancing, you have the luxury to make up your own scheme, and take breaks, or work just half the day- it’s also hard sometimes to get that feeling of ‘leaving work’, especially when you work from home; there’s always something you can work on, with the laptop always available. It’s such a cliché, but I really enjoy working night time. Just staying up, drinking coffee even though it’s late and you’re not supposed to, putting on some nice music and just playing around with ideas in Illustrator- that’s pretty much an ideal setup for me.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
I think it’s great, of course, and I’m very grateful to be one of those who can make a living out of doing graphic design- I know it’s a tough business and it’s quite a luxury to work from home with clients from all over the world. I would love to be able to meet people more in real life, although Skype and e-mail usually make things work. I do have some local clients in Stockholm from time to time, so I get my fair share of physical briefs and meetings. But, I can also miss colleagues and an office to go to- it can get a bit lonely and tedious to work alone from home, sometimes.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
Well, I’ve never really had the chance, and probably don’t have all the needed technical skills for, to work full-time at an agency. Also, I’ve only been doing this for a living for the last three years, so I’m still just grateful for being able to pay my rent doing this, but it would be nice to have a steady (and larger, optimally) income, of course.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
I think it’s more about ideal moments and circumstances, than specific projects. At the moment, I’m writing and directing short comedy films with a friend, so this would probably be my next ideal project, right now, to get it financed and explore this area more. It’s also ideal because it’s something completely else, from what I normally do and work with, so it’s very exciting and rewarding to step out of the comfort zone for a bit, and learn how to express ideas with actors and moving images, instead of two-dimensional graphic design.
I could also mention the pictogram project I made for IKEA, which was kind of an ideal task for me, I guess. I did have quite a bit of creative freedom with some of the the icons, but also needed to really make them clear and understandable, at the same time. It was ideal in the sense that it was in the icon/pictogram environment, which I feel very comfortable with, but I also needed to practice my technical skills and make sure the icons were communicative and also hold together as a unity.