Interview with art designers This is Them
Guest writer Stefan Pintaric shares his interview with This is Them.
This is Them: K&F, Klaasz and Floor; two cutting-edge designers from fast-paced Amsterdam, now based in laid-back Nelson. K&F have run their own design studio for 10 years, working on a wide range of projects across the world. They are fans of clean, stylish design and like producing colourful, clever work with strong visuals.
Stefan Pintaric: Your work spans a variety of mediums – posters, album covers, t-shirts, brochures – as graphic designers, what foundation allows you to cross mediums with such facility?
This is Them: I think that when you’ve developed a strong identity the individual designs for different media kind of flow from that. Also we tend to love the diversity different media have to offer, we would find it pretty boring if we’d have to stick to one medium. Or one style for that matter.
SP: Much of the material in your portfolio is presented in both Dutch and English simultaneously. What kinds of challenges are involved when your client requires a dual language product?
This is Them: Actually it doesn’t happen too often a client requires a dual language product, though we are currently working on a magazine that features both Spanish and English texts. I guess as long as you speak the language it’s not a problem at all, it’s just a matter of balancing the lay-out. It becomes trickier when you have to design something in say Chinese and you haven’t got a clue what the text is about; but we’re still waiting for those kind of challenges.
SP: Music and Live Events seem to be a recurring source of work for you. How much is this your own personal choice, versus being sought out by music / event clients because of your prior experience?
This is Them: It has everything to do with personal choice. We love music and cultural events and when you spend a lot of time in that scene, like we did in Amsterdam, then that’s where the majority of your networking happens. I guess it also helps when your clients can tell you’re really into whatever it is they need to promote, affinity is very important. We really enjoy working for cultural events as we usually get a lot of creative freedom with those kind of jobs and get to make what we feel works best
SP: Your portfolio prominently features a Pantone grid rendering of your own photo. Beyond it’s uniqueness, a strong sense of color mastery is evident throughout your design oeuvre. How much of this is based on education, and how much stems from your own intuition?
This is Them: I think it’s intuition mostly, we both love outspoken colors and how they reflect on the elements around them, whether it’s a brightly painted wall or some detail within an identity. Our schooldays were mostly focused on developing conceptual thinking, aesthetics seemed to be less important. Obviously there are heaps of influences that contribute to use or preference for certain colors but I don’t think it’s something we’re deliberately trying to pick up.
SP: Klaasz; your work with motion graphics is rhythmic and intrinsically tied to time. How much of this is based on a relationship with music, and how much comes from a more cinematic understanding of pace? Working with Ableton Live, how have you been able to use tools like Max or the Launchpad to enhance your performance?
This is Them: I have worked as an editor for a while, before I started making motion graphics so taking sound and time into account was already a habit. I tend to use After Effects to produce my visuals which I mix live during visual performances using VDMX, a video-mixer and various midi controllers. I tend to use the launchpad when I’m dj-ing or making music while mixing visuals at the same time- this hasn’t happened too much in public yet but I am enjoying those jam-sessions. Keen to try Max 4 Live at some stage- it looks very interesting.
SP: Floor; being a photographer yourself, how do you find working with other people’s photographs for a design piece? Do you gain any advantage through a familiarity with the processes involved in making the image that another designer might not have?
This is Them: I don’t consider myself to be a Photographer with a capital P. I love making photos but I don’t think I have any special technical skills there. I do have a talent for knowing which photo’s will work best within a certain design and I get very excited when we get to work with good quality photography- it just lifts the entire design to a higher level.
SP: Being a design studio for projects aimed at mass-marketing like posters, what kind of responses do you get to your work from end-viewers as opposed to the original client? Do you enjoy the wider exposure that you garner from these kind of public pieces?
This is Them: Usually it’s the client who tell us they’re happy as their target group is reached in the way the had hoped for. Sometimes we get positive responses from the end-viewers directly and that can be very rewarding. A couple of years ago we did this poster for a festival and teens from all over Holland loved it so much, they kept ringing us for copies to put up on the bedroom walls. We were quite surprised and stoked about that.
Thanks to Stefan Pintaric and 4ormat for sharing this interview!