Hi Alex and Paul. Thanks for chatting with us! How are you both?
Doing well! Currently enjoying the sunlight that has decided to show up here in Kentucky.
Ironically, just as we started this project, I caught COVID and I'm still recovering from that. But I'm starting to feel better and apart from that, I'm doing well.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative practice?
I’m currently a full-time designer at Durham Studio. I work mostly on traditional brand identity work and occasionally dabble in motion design as well. We take on many different types of work and move at a quick pace, so being able to adapt to that kind of work environment has taught me a lot during my time there. And the fella’s I work with make the studio environment (even when working from home) a damn good time
I also am a co-owner and designer for Fream Co., which is a self-initiated studio that sprouted from a friendship with designer, Tyler Isaacs, during college. What began as an opportunity to create work outside of classroom briefs and coursework, grew into starting our own practice to make whatever we want, whenever we want. We are currently in the process of re-building at the moment and are hoping to develop more work in 2021, than we did in 2020.
Since 2011, I have been working as a freelance designer, primarily in graphic design. For some time now, I have enjoyed working on the road and reaping the inspiration that comes with it. Currently, I am based in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. I work for various clients, mainly from Germany, but I also try to continue my work within the Balkan region by collaborating with local artists and cultural institutions.
Although most of my projects are strongly typographically based, I like to use all kinds of media and maintain a certain curiosity. I love to experiment with new programmes, techniques and environments.
How has COVID-19, or even just the year 2020, impacted your creativity and mental wellbeing? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
2020 taught me that it was okay to step away from the mouse and keyboard from time to time. It was a year of reflection on every aspect of life. I moved into a place with my lady and we’ve been able to connect on a greater level than I think we would have if we hadn’t had all of this time to spend together. I’m grateful for that time of calm, but also look forward to a sense of what ‘used to be’ (in whatever form that is) in the year 2021. Durham is growing, Fream is working, and I can’t wait to share it all as it happens.
I felt very locked in during the first phase of the pandemic, and in the first few months I took refuge in work rather than reflecting much about the situation or enjoying the free time.
Of course, it was a blessing to complete projects that needed a certain amount of attention and time. I was finally able to get my book "Drifting East – A journeyman’s travelogue” ready for print and work on my new web appearance. On the other hand, after a few weeks, this routine and the spatial limitation really wore me down. A handful of projects have been postponed or cancelled, which made me, as a freelancer who mainly gets his jobs from culture, a bit nervous. But apart from the first lockdown and the associated uncertainty, I have to say that I got through the year 2020 quite well.
To be honest, I don't think 2021 will be the great saviour that everyone is expecting. I find the assumption somehow naive. I guess the late effects of radical lockdown will still be felt. Which is not to say that I don't have hope that it will get better, I just think it takes more time and a general willingness in our globalised world and capitalist society to change our behaviour.
What have you changed in your life lately to make it more enjoyable?
Moving into a new place granted me the ability to find inspiration elsewhere. Discovering things on simple walks or bike rides that I’ve never seen before has been refreshing. I moved here right as COVID hit, so I have spent the majority of my past year within these walls. Moving into a new place comes with so many meticulous house tasks, which has allowed me to adjust my focus on something other than work.
I went through a similar process as many of my friends and colleagues, I guess. This brief interruption of the constant distraction of course also brought a lot of positive things that I want to keep. A somewhat healthier lifestyle with less alcohol, more exercise, slower pace and home-cooked food. I've been without cigarettes for almost three weeks now and I really hope I can keep it up after the illness and the current lockdown. Feels good!
As an industry, how do you think we can better support creatives and their mental health? How do we bring about collective hope?
One of the cornerstones of the conversation with Paul was an overload of everything around us. The acknowledgment of the chaos that is happening in us and around us is important. Nobody is alone in navigating this chaos and I feel that it’s vital to reach out to one another to express that.
Projects like Collective Hope are a great stepping stone to establishing a connection and building from that. Developing a piece of work that is reflective of personal experiences, personal conversations, and personal thoughts is a remedy in itself. Seeing more initiatives such as this one would be a great way to open the door for discussion of these significant issues via a creative platform.
I can agree 100% with Alex here. It might be worth mentioning that as graphic designers we tend to overwork ourselves. I hope that we can take the new "insights" into our work mentality and created it a bit healthier.
Lastly, what has working on this project meant to you?
Meeting Paul was a pleasure, and I most likely wouldn’t have had a connection with someone across the world if it weren’t for this. Together we were able to discuss how COVID, and this past year in general, has had an effect on each of us. Producing work that was rooted from the discussion we had on these topics was a great way to collaborate, and this submission will be a great time stamp to look back on as to what I was doing during this unique time on planet Earth.
It’s been a nice experience, was quite cool to do that together with Alex and getting in touch with some body on the other side of the globe! Hope to have the chance to catch up together one day in real life!