Here is the third interview in the series of conversations with “The Digital Decade” contest winners. This time we sit down with…
Special Place: Zakharia Mesropov
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DP: Georgia is a small country that’s not exactly famous for its school of design. Is it your ambition to remedy this situation or are you just having fun doing what you do?
ZM: Unfortunately you’re right, moreover, in both senses: our design tradition, as in some sort of a design Modus Operandi, is very young, and also literally, our Academy of Arts as a school of design is not exactly Parsons… That’s why most of our industry professionals are self-taught. Of course, I’m having fun doing what I do and I have no ambition to bring world design to its knees. I love what I do, creating something new, something special and if everybody would do the same, things would be just fine.
DP: Is design your profession or is there something else you do for a living?
ZM: Design is what I live for and what I do for a living.
DP: Is there something particular you specialize in – record sleeves, playbills, big boards, etc.? Or, perhaps, is there something you’d rather be doing but the circumstances are against you?
ZM: Well, there are a lot of different things that I would like to design or create (industrial or landscape design), and a lot of directions that I would like to take (digital design or even handmade stuff). There are so many great things; but when you’re a part of the team, with deadlines, etc., you just don’t have those kinds of chances to realize your wishes.
DP: Have you ever won anything else other than the Depositphotos Choice Award?
ZM: I’ve won a few small ones, more like tenders, but a competition of this magnitude is definitely the first for me. When I sent in my works, I didn’t even think that I’d get to the short list, and I was very happy to end up on top with the rest of these amazing creatives.
DP: When did it occur to you that you should be involved in design? Was it a childhood dream or had it come to you in later years?
ZM: When I was 15, I began to work as a 3D modeler, and that’s when it dawned on me that everything that surrounds us has been designed by someone and I could and must be that someone.
DP: What do you think of the commercial aspects of art in general, and design in particular? What do you think sells: logo, quality material, tradition, sex, craftsmanship, marketing skills or something else? What should the designers be paying the most attention to in order to both keep their clients happy and be happy themselves?
ZM: Of course everything you mention is important, but I think that the most important thing is your soul. I don’t want it to sound like a platitude, but you must show your customers the soul of whatever you’re selling and yours as well. It can be a commercial ad, a logo or anything else, but it should have its own character. For example, a commercial which gives you the feeling of comfort, safety, love, etc., resonates with people more strongly than just some quality video offering something trivial. You know, goods and services come and go, but your soul is forever. Here are some illustrious examples: Vodafone – The Kiss, or Robinsons – Two friends.
DP: What do you read? Which magazines do you subscribe to? What movies do you watch? Where do you get your inspiration?
ZM: Inspiration is everywhere; it depends on the task. You should clearly know what you intend to accomplish and inspiration will come. Reading, I think, is becoming a privilege nowadays. We all, people in my circles, depend on the amount of work we can get and the hours we put in, in order to get paid, so often we just don’t have the time to sit by the fire in a rocking chair and enjoy a stimulating book. So, we put it off to read on vacation, but whatever time we squeeze in is never enough. Magazines: of course, one of my favorite is Designcollector, and there are many others: TAXI, Dezeen, I can’t list them all. Etoday, LookAtMe, W-O-S. Of course, music is great for inspiration; I can’t imagine working on something without my favorite band “Coldplay” in my headphones. Sometimes I eat something that I never ate before, or drink something like that, or do something that’s outside my comfort zone. I like to experiment with life, doing things that I thought I would never do.
DP: Being a graphic designer, would you rather work for yourself or be a part of an agency, large or small? Why?
ZM: I was a freelancer for about three years and that was pretty good, so I still take a commission every now and then. But in the future, I want to have my own small design studio, maybe about 4-5 people. Smaller companies, in my opinion, can do a lot of interesting stuff; they can have a certain clientele they like and do what they love, truly expressing themselves while making money and not vice versa, making money first and then trying to extract whatever is left in the project creatively, after the payday. Money is, of course, important, but to me it always comes second.
DP: What do you think are the most regrettable practices of modern design and modern designers?
ZM: I don’t think that there are things in design that should or shouldn’t exist, because humans have a right to do anything and create anything. Although, there should be at least some sense to something created by design; otherwise, why create it? That’s the prerogative of art – creating something senseless. Design has to have at least a fraction of a function, in order to simplify life while making things more attractive and more pleasant.
DP: Who is an undisputed guru of design to you? Whose opinion would you have cherished and followed, even though it would contradict your own opinion?
ZM: Hard to say. I respect many artists, but I don’t think I could blindly follow somebody’s opinion. Of course, it’s always very intriguing to know what others think of my work. But when you create something, it should come from you and you alone. Usually I just discuss my work with my father and I think about his advice. He is not a designer – never had anything to do with this field – so his opinion is always the purest.