Visual Journalist Interview

An excerpt of my interview for the upcoming book by Pauline Baumberger and Michael Schmitz —  also featuring Steven Heller, Jay Lang, Sam de Groot, Rick Poynor und Robin Kinross — to be published in summer 2014.
Thank you Pauline and Michael for the invitation!

What are the dispositions of graphic design as a profession?
Being a mélange of arts and craft, graphic design is an immensely diverse and fascinating field of practice, accommodating countless media and all forms of communication. The modern graphic designer is a generalist, a “jack of all trades” — this is one of reasons why I love my profession.

What I’m learning in my pursuit to become better as a graphic designer are things that are, for me, of importance for life itself. Communicating in the clearest and most honest way. Reducing to the essentials. Giving all I’ve got. Making my visions tangible and useful for others.

I often think of graphic design as architecture, only on a different scale and more immediate. You can design something in a short period of time, print it/upload it on the web — and it’s there. It exists and can start to influence, inspire. I always found this fascinating.

How does the education of a graphic designer need to look like?
Whenever I visit German design schools I have the impression that the system is too laid-back in a way. This might be useful for certain studies, but for design I think the more intense the better. I can only speak of my own experience, the three-year studies at ECAL, which were hardcore but in a very good way. The intensity really helped pushing yourself and your craft. It was very schoolish, we had consultations, discussions, presentations, courses every day of the week. The momentum was kept always alive and I found this to be very powerful. The ECAL took its mission seriously: to make us super-ready for the real world.

Another important feature of my studies was that the university managed to realize workshops with some of the most brilliant minds of our industry. Suddenly you found yourself working and playing with your biggest idols! This gave me many great opportunities to ask all my burning questions and connect for future projects. I’m pretty thankful for that.

Should a graphic designer specialize?
In my opinion — as I stated in the beginning — the modern graphic designer is a generalist. Powerful things can happen when you combine different skills, when you explore other fields and new professions to experiment with. It opens new doors and ultimately makes you a more complete designer in the long run.

Why is it important to reflect?
Reflection is everything. I think it’s super-important to regularly step back from your work and clear the head to see the big picture and be able to evaluate what you are actually doing with our life time and WHY. Is this the most important thing for you to be working on? Could you spend your time better? And if so, why the hell aren’t you?
I try to ask this myself everyday.