Vedran Vaskovic: The biggest challenge is explaining the value of what we do.
04.05.2019 | Share — Twitter Facebook Copy link
Vedran is an Art Director and Graphic Designer working and living in Montreal, Canada. Originally born in ex-Yugoslavia (in present day Herzegovina), Vedran moved to Canada when he was eleven years old as a war refugee. Developing a successful career as a designer, he likes to tackle all aspects of the project and work on each one in a holistic way, with a strong focus on typography.
What led you into your current career path?
When I was a kid, I looked up to my older brother who was really good at drawing and painting. I copied my brother because I wanted to be as good as him, which led me to like and appreciate the visual arts in general. After graduating from high school, I enrolled in college in visual arts where I got introduced to graphic design. Later I went on to complete a bachelor degree in graphic design and move to Montreal where I have been working for the last seven years in the field. Since those early days, I can say that I surpassed my brother in ability to draw and paint, but in an alternative universe, if he had chosen to play guitar, I don't know if I would be a musician today.
How do you keep in touch with the creative world and community and how does the creative scene look like in your city?
My main pipelines for new and exciting work comes from Behance and Instagram. Behance is like a wholesome meal that is well thought of and takes time to appreciate. Instagram is like fast food. Apart from those two, Pinterest has some good inspiration on typography. Outside of the mainstream, I like diving into old books and checking out other studios and designers websites.
The creative scene in Montreal is really healthy and has been for many decades. There are couple of good schools in many disciplines of design that are sending out a fresh cohort of great creatives year after year. Considering that the budgets for projects are smaller compared to Toronto or Vancouver, nevermind New York or San Francisco, studios and individual designers from Montreal manage to impress nationally and internationally. When it comes to national design scene, Montreal constantly rankes in about thirty to forty percent of the awards each year. On the other hand, beacuse the money is concentrated elsewhere, many great designers are poached at some point and end up working in the cities I had mentioned previously. Luckily, a great number of them decide to stay and still attract work from all over the world.
Saint George – An experimental typeface
Vedran is an Art Director and Graphic Designer working and living in Montreal, Canada.
What creative(s) do you admire for their work? Have you collaborated or thought of collaborating with other like-minds?
First, shout out to all my Paprika people! My old classmates Xavier Coulombe-Murray, Xavier Cédric and Nathaniel Proulx Joanisse. My old bosses at Caserne, Léo and Ugo, as well my old collegue Étienne Angot who is still working there. My old collegue and good friend Felipe Elioenay, and his girlfriend Jessica Chabot. My old collegues Francis Desrosier and Nathan Nardin (Harrison Fun). Alexandre Saumier (2 Lettreurs), François Ollivier, Daniel Moisan, Julien Hébert, Charlène Sepentzis, Véronique LaFortune, Michael Mason, Cécile Gariépy, Studio Feed, Studio Principal, Coppers & Brasses and many more. I am sure I am forgetting bunch of them. As I said before, the scene in Montreal is really healthy.
I wish I can collaborate with a lot of people outside of Montreal. People that come to my mind are: Samara Keller, Morag Myerscough, Béla Frank, Peltan-Brosz, Adrien Midzic, Pauline Fourest and more.
What’s your favorite hack to get work done?
In my personal opinion, I feel like there are no hacks. Hacks tend to show once the project is done. What you need to get work done is organization, discipline and perseverance. There is no "magic button" that will make everything work and make sense of it all. You just have to put in the hours, try to find solutions when problems occur and find a way around a creative block when it comes.
What are your 5 favorite work tools/apps and how do use them?
I try to keep it simple. My essentials are InDesign (as soon as there is a notion of a layout), Illustrator (for anything vector based) and Photoshop (for tweaking images). I would say InDesign is the most important in my workflow. On occasion, I use Premiere and Audio for making rough cuts for video projects. I tried learning After Effects, but I find its really lacking intuitivness, especially for someone like me who is entrenched in Adobe software. The one that is exciting me the most at this moment is XD. It makes so much more sense for designing websites than Photoshop.
Here is an overview of my apps that I use.
I like to use Illustrator for what its originally made for which is vector graphics. I don't do any presentations, book, pamphlets, websites or anything other than just manipulate vectors. In this case, I am working on a typeface. Its the most basic software for creating fonts. Of course, you can use Glyphs and other software, but this is a good one to start with.
InDesign is the ultimate tool in my workflow. I use it like a Keynote/PowerPoint to build presentations. Almost anything that I create will be shown to a client for approval, so its a good tool to make it presentable and to be able to do quick changes. Photoshop and Illustrator is not practical and there is always an extra step when exporting. Of course, as shown here, I am using it to make a book which is the original purpose of it.
What creative or non-creative challenges do you face at work?
The biggest challenge is explaining the value of what we do to clients. Some of them weren't exposed to it and have other stuff to worry about like running a business. Others don't care because either their boss imposed the choice to work with you or they are pinching every cent, over-analyzing everything you do. We consistantly have to educate and argue about small things or personal tastes. From time to time, you get a client who has taste and understands the creative process, and they are precious and you want to keep them forever if you can.
Another challenge is fighting with other industries stale practices or companies that have entrenched impulses. Sometimes, you get feedback from the client and you can see right away that everybody from the owner to the cleaning staff had given their opinion. Ultimately, it then becomes a job of decyphering this pile of contradictions and personal tastes which takes away time and energy. On the other hand, at my work, we had a client tell us that their big boss simply flipped through the pages of a book we had designed and printed two months ago and said: "I find there is too much blue". Now we have to change the "too much blue" separators for the second printing because they didn't dare trying to explain why there is a heavy presence of colour blue. The funny thing is that the colour was imposed by them from the branding they previously created internally.
The solution to most of client related problems and challenges is establishing trust. Because the client pays, they are usually not very trusting. Especially because what we do is not very tangible at first. The client can't instantly test it and get quick results. Its a leap in to the unknown and it scares them, but most of them know its necessary so they do it with this fear like just before you jump into a lake. Is the water warm or cold? Is it shallow or deep? Should I go with my feet or do a backflip?
We need to be able to create that perfect lake and to convince them the lake is warm, deep and that they should do a backflip.
What projects are you most proud of and excited about? Are there any side-projects you work or worked on?
1. Saint George is an experimental typeface. It is based on a widely available Georgia. The intention was to modify an existing typeface and create something new. Because it is an experimental project, it is available only in lowercase characters.
The inspiration for the theme comes from the name of the original which morphed to Saint George. Since the stencil shapes got more wild and playful, the tone of the theme had appropriated humour and twisting of the basic christian tale of Saint George. Get the download link on vskv.ca or find it on Behance.
2. Panache: The celebrated Panache salon wished to redo its visual identity to better represent the innovative spirit that colours all its haircuts and the reputation that it has built since it opened its doors in 2011. Inspired by the motion of scissors, the new identity proudly features a diagonal line created through typographic work. The diagonal acts as a subtle visual signature throughout the salon, accessorizing the space’s design.
3. Groom needed to refresh its visual identity to introduce a new line of shaving products in a consistent way. At a time when men are increasingly sporting facial hair, Groom needed to solidify its brand image to support its growth in the market. Created, tested and made in Montreal, this artisanal line is designed to help tame rebellious beards and make bearded men look their finest.
4. Miles Baby is a clothing brand for children aged zero to seven years old. It is inspired by Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood and Scandinavian minimalism to give a high-end image worthy of today's mothers that take their young children's appearance seriously. Although the visual identity is minimalist and has a neutral colour palette, there are playful text layouts whenever the brand is “speaking”.
5. Supremacy is a display typeface with pointy ends. Supreme in its boldness and an absolute must. Supremacy has ascended to rule all of the font realms. Appointed by the typeface God, Supremacy will lead the charge and rule with an iron fist. Long live the Supremacy!
Supremacy is an exploration project that is meant to be agressive and bold. It has character for multiple latin based alphabets and some cyrilics. The inspiration came from a single letter B that was used on a logo. The visual theme and the name come from then notion of abolutism, especially from the European historical context. When it comes to the copywriting, the inspiration came from a Mobb Deep song Shook Ones Part II. Get the download link on vskv.ca or find it on Behance.
Saint George is an experimental typeface.
Groom needed to refresh its visual identity to introduce a new line of shaving products in a consistent way.
Panache - Inspired by the motion of scissors, the new identity proudly features a diagonal line created through typographic work.
What’s your morning or evening routine and habit after work?
I get up really early compared to when I start working at the office. I like to take time waking up and ease in to my day. I don't like rushing which mirrors my approach to design. My belief is that rushing anything in life forces you to make compromises that stiffle the full potential of whatever you are doing. In simple words, I like to take my time. After work it is usually equally busy, but I like to detach and do other things even if they are very banal. It clears my mind. Doing sports or any physical activity helps a lot.
What does a typical day look like?
6:00-6:30 am: Get up, make breakfast, feed the cats, prepare lunches for my girlfriend and myself and more routine stuff.
8:20-8:40 am: Leave for work. It takes about 15-20 minutes to get to the office. The commute is very pleasant and one of my favorite things in my daily life.
9:00 am: The day starts. Usually I just continue whatever I was working on the day before. I rarely have a meeting before 10:30 am. It's a small studio with eleven employees including the owners. Things are simple, hierarchy is simple, there are no politics like at bigger studios or agencies.
Noon: Up until lunch, it's very quiet, you can hear a pin drop. Once we start eating the conversations start and it's much more lively. But as soon as we are done, it gets quiet again for the rest of the afternoon.
5:00 pm: Its closing time. Sometimes some of us stay to finish up, but in my experience it's very rare.
At Paprika, it is very quiet, but its ideal for focusing and creating a little bubble where you can create without being bothered. I worked at very loud places, at positions where there were back to back to back meetings before you can even get a coffee. Places where overtime was common, politics are exhausting and the creative process is interrupted every ten minutes. That way of working is not sustainable and can wear you down to the bones.
6h00-6h30 am My two cats that I need to feed after waking up
7 am Usually healthy breakfast
8h20-8h40 My morning commute
9 am Grab a coffee. Usually they mispell my name
9h30 Arrive at work
10 am The area where paper mockups happen
11am Printshop visit before a presentation
15 pm Sound check in the after noon
14 pm When I need a change of pace, I sketch
What is a design-related hobby or passion of yours?
As a kid, I used to sketch and paint a lot. Now I have less time overall. I would say making typefaces is my current hobby. It is fun, but useful in many ways. In general, I understand typography better and I am creating something that others can use as well. I am not a professional type designer by any means, but for a graphic designer I can contribute and have a great time while creating.
Is there work in progress project you could share with us?
One side project I am working on when I have a spare moment or I am waiting for feedback, is a new typeface I have called Jugoslawien (Yugoslavia in German). I am trying something different and the results are looking good, so it is encouraging me to continue.
Any advice for ambitious creatives starting out?
You really need to commit to this. It is a fast moving and evolving environement where you can't really sit back and rely on couple of years of good work. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to constantly show presence and be consistant in the quality of your work. It is not as punishing as performing arts, you can allow yourself to fail, but the good work needs to be there more than not.
What’s your workspace setup?
I got a new desktop Mac recently at my day job and its an absolute beast. Top of the line with maximum of RAM. It was aquired to respond to the more common reality that we work often with video and animations as well as more high resolution material in general. Eventually, I wouldn’t mind a second screen because I like to have a lot of windows open at the same time. At home I have a MacBook Pro that is the pre-touch-bar generation which is more than good enough for my needs.
The elevator that takes me to the studio on the sixth level.
In the morning it feels uplifting and by the evening, it makes you grounded.
This is my workspace. My desk is usually not this clean.
What's next for you? And where can people find you online?
Coming at some point will be the Triple Double Type (TDT), a collection of free typefaces created by myself. I don't think of myself as professional type designer, but I like exploring, so I told myself: "Why let these go to waste?" Hopefully, I will convince some of my friends to join me and share their typefaces as well. For now you can follow on Instagram and Behance until the new website gets launched.
"There is no "magic button" that will make everything work and make sense of it all."
Quote by Vedran Vaskovic