Olga Takhtarova

Professional in Packaging Design.

About Olga Takhtarova

Has over 14 years of experience in graphic and interior design. Since 2015, she has been working under the SOT B&D (Studio Olga Takhtarova Branding & Design) brand in the field of visual identification, packaging, web design, illustration, and interior design. For 5 years, she has implemented more than 200 projects for clients from Ukraine, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Russia, UAE, Canada, USA

  • Winner of Packaging Design Award.
  • Specialized in Packaging Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Highly Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Packaging
Winetime Seafood Packaging

Winetime Seafood Packaging

Packaging Design

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Interview with Olga Takhtarova

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
My love story for design traces back to my early childhood. I made drawings, sculpted, created something from the paper on a non-stop basis. That was the reason for my parents’ decision to start my education in an art studio for kids. Afterward, along with studying in elementary school, I entered Arts School. It took me 5 years to master my first profession - "Decorative Designer”. My artistic journey continued after high school and resulted in two higher education degrees – Fine Arts and Interior Design. My career in Design started in 2006. I worked as an Interior Designer and Graphic Designer in creative and design companies. Today I continue my way in my own studio.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
My own design studio SOT B&D was opened in 2015. The name is the set of the initial letters of Studio Olga Takhtarova Branding & Design. This name was created by my good friend one day and settled down. The studio majors are visual identification, packaging, web design, illustration. More than 200 projects for local and foreign clients from Ukraine, Germany, Belgium, Canada, Poland, UAE, Russia, USA were implemented by SOT B&D within 5 years. SOT B&D is my opportunity for professional growth, a chance to work on interesting, large projects, and get acquainted with smart, purposeful people.
What is "design" for you?
Design is a part of our material world. We live inside the design. Design is in everything we deal with: from toothpicks to architecture. Design is a language, and if you are lucky enough to learn this language, you get the ability to transmit messages, form certain feelings, and affect others emotionally.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
Packaging design is what I enjoy the most. I like the challenges of big projects when you are to blend many details. And the creation of illustrations - makes the project highly unique.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
One of my recent projects gave me a feeling of satisfaction. This is a rebranding for a series of air fresheners. Trivial cliched flowers and fruits images were replaced for the gradient as the main element of design. Each aroma corresponds to its gradient. For example, lavender aroma – is the gradient of purple, blue, and lilac shades. And the citrus aroma is conveyed with the gradient of pink, orange, and yellow shades. Thus, the design for spray series turned out to be fashionable, vibrant, and recognizable.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
My first commercial project was the development of a promotion booklet.
When do you feel the most creative?
An interesting project and comfortable communication with a client are my sources of inspiration
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
What problem should design solve? What is the target audience for the design? What image should the design create? What should a potential customer, a buyer understand?
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
My design process may be described as the state of trance, a complete immersion.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Good design is intelligible. Good design is well-thought-out. Good design is sensuous, simple, and discreet.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
Design is a solution to a problem. And a designer is the one who solves a problem.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
Designers bare high moral responsibility. The product created today influences the cultural and mental appearance of a future consumer.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
My previous exhibition was when I was studying at university. For now, I do not have certain plans for this.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
Architects, industrial designers, graphic and web designers create visual culture. We literally create the world around us. I get inspiration from communication with other designers and get inspired by their works. I follow new trends in culture, I look straight and all around. I go into books, fonts, typesetting, study, and analyze how it works.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
I would describe my style in design as Eclecticism. I like to combine different style elements in one project. For example, it is interesting to use a photo image and an illustration at the same time. I like the Victorian style for its sophistication and eye for details.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in Ukraine. This country has a rich history and ancient traditions. This allows you to create incredibly interesting and unique projects. In my practice, there was a design project for craft beer, where Ukrainian traditions and mythology were interpreted into the modern world. Working on design, I wanted to convey the idea that mythological creatures also keep up to date and perhaps even live among us, that Ukrainian history and mythology are not forgotten, but presented in an updated form. In one of the scenes, modern Vernigora (the giant athlete of East Slavic fairy tales) is in a hurry for a beer on his skateboard. Unfortunately, there are still too many examples in the design when the national idea, history, traditions are reduced to placing national flag or pattern. That I consider negative.
How do you work with companies?
Companies are my main clients. My collaboration with many of them lasts for more than one year. I work as a private entrepreneur under corresponding agreements.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
I offer a good design - portfolio and my experience. Honest, transparent, and legally perfect terms of cooperation. Continuous support and advice throughout the execution and after completion of the project. Compromise and negotiation.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
This includes many components. Design is not just about getting a job and creating a picture. There are many different steps between these actions: Study. Information gathering and understanding. Focusing. Understand the essence of the problem. Idea generation. Idea development to the defined idea. Choice of the idea. Selection the most effective idea from a number of them. Create an initial sample. Prototype. Testing. Receiving customers’ feedback.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
At home, I have things mostly made in Ukraine. I am not sure if they can be called design items.
Can you describe a day in your life?
My usual day begins with coffee and watching Instagram feeds. Design the public that I subscribed to and their beautiful images inspire my day and I smoothly enter the workflow. I work almost without breaks being totally immersed in the process. I try to work on one project within one day, not mixing projects. I write emails, do phone calls. Having an appointment with a client, I always devote some time to getting ready for such a meeting. I collect information, prepare examples of work. And, of course, I listen to good music.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Become a sponge. Absorb, analyze, notice, and learn from everything and everywhere. Try to keep updated on news in architecture, fashion, design, illustration, photography, etc. Get a new experience. Chat with people. Be open to new things, leave home, expand professional contacts. "Play fair". To unite experience and knowledge into the organic whole and create a project that customers would buy, you need to follow the "rules" - those three stages of the design process: define the task, form the idea, realize.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
The benefit of being a designer is that it’s a highly demanded profession. The advantage of this profession is the possibility to work on foreign markets and deal with clients around the world. Designers create a certain style for the time frame in which they work. It's nice to be part of something big. There are also downsides. Designers are bounded with a task. Unlike an artist, a designer cannot create art for the sake of art or rely solely on his or her taste. The designer always submits a task and has to be practical.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
The main rule is to show empathy. I believe that empathy plays a decisive role in the work of a designer. In order to come up with a solution for a client, a designer has to experience the situation in full.
What skills are most important for a designer?
In order to create out-of-box solutions and be a real expert, you need to improve your skills constantly, move the bar upwards, step out of your comfort zone, learn new things, work on mistakes and improve your visual culture. Despite how good a specialist you are, if you do not know how to communicate with people, interact with them, you will not be able to sell your work.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
My graphic tools are Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop Adobe InDesign. I get inspiration from design books. I bookmark images and ideas in the browser, subscribe to the pages of agencies and designers that inspire me, create collections with bright and interesting ideas.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
I believe myself to be extremely self-organized. It’s easy for me. I plan my working day in advance, check the deadline, determine which project should be given the priority. I work 10-12 hours a day, and very often that time flies. Similar to pilots’ flight hours, every designer should have a huge number of practice hours. This, in my opinion, is the only way to gain experience and score success.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Timing depends on the project itself and its complexity. If you need to develop packaging with a complex technical structure, individual illustrations, and specific printing that may take about six months and more.
What was your most important job experience?
My long-established client once ordered a website for a project that I had been working on for a long time. Despite the absence of relevant experience, I made that site design myself. It was a challenge, though the client appreciated the result. Since then, website design has become one of my favorite scopes of work.
Who are some of your clients?
My clients are private entrepreneurs, medium, and big joint-stock companies. In 60% of cases, new clients come by referral of those with whom I had or have projects.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
My favorite part of the project is creating the design itself when all the information is collected, briefs are read, meetings are held, details are clarified.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
I intend to invest more in my personal brand, become more popular.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I work on projects myself. Thus, I am completely confident in the result and stay on top of it. The only part I trust other professionals is web-programming when I deal with websites.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
Now I am working on a new umbrella brand for high-quality chocolates. I design logos and packaging. It is always interesting and very responsible to stand at the origins of creating a new product.
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
I’m grateful for your interesting questions that gave me a wonderful possibility to present myself.

Extended Interview with Olga Takhtarova

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
This story traces back to my childhood. I was fond of drawing and my parents let me have lessons in the art studio. Afterwards I started my education in art school and in 5 years of training I received my first profession "Decorative Designer". My artistic journey continued after high school and resulted in two higher education degrees – Fine Arts and Interior Design. Having received the first diploma, I began working as an interior designer and was getting my second higher education coincidently. With time I became interested in graphic design, completed computer courses, and began to work for various creative design studios. Owing to my design studio, which I founded 5 years ago, I continue working and developing my skills in design.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
I can’t imagine myself and my life without design. I became a part of it. Nothing interests me more. Since very childhood, I work on my design skills, develop creativity. I have grown professionally, and I am not going to stop in the future. Now I pull up with my design quality, improve my professional skills.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
Becoming a designer was my well-considered decision. This was not accidental or forced. I received appropriate education, went with self-education, took lessons to improve professional skills, gained experience working in companies, founded my own company and I'm not going to stop.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
I create a visual identity, packaging, web design, illustrations. Sometimes I work on interior design. My favorites are packaging design and interior design. I wish I devote more time to that.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
A designer should answer the question of why he or she wants to become a designer. One has to understand that design is a big responsibility. It is important to be a professional and do the job well. One should not forget about the reputation. No time should be wasted for nonsense and for dishonest clients. Do not think you know enough. Focus on the best and improve your visual taste. Believe in yourself.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
A good designer just works - gets a task and fulfills it in accordance with a client’s brief. A good designer does not accept challenges, does not eager to learn new, and changes the routine. Great designer solves clients’ problems and establishes relations. A great designer does more than agreed, learns from mistakes, and is always out of comfort zone. A great designer is disciplined and knows how to manage time. He or she is learning, absorbing new knowledge constantly. A great designer will not finish the project until it’s perfect.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Good design is informative. The design aims to convey a lot of information to a consumer: from attracting attention to a product to answering a wide variety of questions. Good design is distinctive. It helps to sort and differentiate the world around us through design elements. Good design is emotional. It evokes certain feelings in us, connecting us with the objective world and forming a certain opinion about it. Good design should attract attention and trigger emotions.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Design is so integrated into the modern world that we cannot imagine our existence without it. Design is present literally everywhere - on the street, in a store, at home, on the Internet. We learn design through pointers, books, magazines, packaging, and labels on clothes. The design carries the message. You can explain something, form certain feelings, and emotionally affect others by investing a specific message in the design.
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
I would create a design for my own cosmetics: corporate identity, packaging, website, promo materials.
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
It’s easy to make a project for people, who are close to you. And what if the client, for example, is a law firm? The subject is completely unfamiliar. But you must be able to interest yourself. Put yourself in clients’ shoes, immerse yourself in their world, find out their problems and pains. Therefore, I try to show empathy in each project - I put myself in the place of another person to understand his or her feelings, ideas, actions.
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
There are so many great inspiring designers and design companies in the world that I cannot single out anyone specifically. I always enjoy their accomplishments and new projects in social networks.
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
I like designs related to packaging. Especially if the packaging is made in Victorian or vintage styles.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
I like a lot of my designs. From the last completed projects, I can single out the rebranding of air fresheners. Instead of traditional flowers and fruits, gradients were used in the packaging design. This allowed us to make the design bright, fashionable, memorable, and highlight the brand in retail. Each smell has its own gradient, which conveys its character. For example, the smell of lavender visually conveys a gradient with mixed shades of lilac, purple, and blue. The smell of citrus - mixed shades of bright pink, orange, and yellow.
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
Get experience. To become a great designer, you must practice a lot. This is the only way to get experience. Develop a sense of taste. You must discover and analyze all visual art (design, paintings, architecture, photographs). The ability to invent is what gathers both practice and visual experience into a unique whole and that sells the project.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
I would still connect my life with the profession of art. Perhaps it would be performance art.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Design is a way of my life and my thoughts, my self-expression. The design makes order out of chaos, creates mood, affects minds.
What helped you to become a great designer?
Core education. It became a solid foundation for my future profession. A lot of practice. This helped me gain enough experience and hone my skills. Search for inspiration and a sense of taste development. It helps me to discern what is “beautiful” and what is not.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
I did not enjoy design enough when working as an employee in design studios. I did not have the opportunity to choose a project, communicate directly with a client, and projects were boring, lack of information leads to numerous corrections from clients.
How do you think designers should present their work?
The designer must present the work. A well-prepared and conducted presentation sells the project, answers all the client’s questions, and explains design.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
Now I am working on a new umbrella brand for chocolates. Design logo and packaging.
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
The only goal that a designer should pursue is to do the job efficiently. Every single day.
How does design help create a better society?
I guess that design cannot really solve global problems by itself. Nevertheless, it can change the perception of these problems and influence solutions.
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
Now I am working on several projects. Some of them are almost completed, and some have already been printed and will appear in retail stores soon.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
An effective result for complex projects that lasted for months. Invested heavily and with much energy in them.
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
Most likely nothing. There are trends that have already become classics, they do not lose their relevance with years.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
I think modern design tends to technology, simplification, convenience, and functionality.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
The term of a design project depends on its complexity as well as on the quality of interaction with a client. Some projects can last just a couple of months, others half of a year or more.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
The effective design begins with the collection of information and critical reflection on a project. Who am I creating this for? How will they use my design? What resources does a client have at disposal? Has anyone else tried to do this?
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
There should be an equal mark between these values. One day someone's design started a certain trend, which was echoed. So are the trends - they dictate the look of modern design.
What is the role of technology when you design?
Modern technologies simplify the work on the design, make it more comfortable. In the past, it was necessary to have a sheet of paper, a pencil, a ruler, and a knowledge of trigonometry to draw a perspective. Now it’s enough to install the appropriate program that will do everything for you.
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
My graphic tools are Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop Adobe InDesign. I am confident in them.
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
Colors play a specific role in a design project. Designers have a system for color use. They do not mix colors in adventure but selects them from the palette collections and consider them an important part of the project from beginning to end. The material, its texture is a reference to the environment. The material can be perceived by touch or visually. The design includes both virtual materials and real ones. The environment (including landscape and climate) largely determines the design. Scandinavian design is an example of this concept. It promotes the desire for environmental friendliness and naturalness, simplicity, and functionality.
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
I’ll certainly collect a good idea. And then I’ll analyze why this idea was good for them and when it can work for me for getting a good result.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
I believe in partnership. But only when the partner is self-sufficient and can do his or her part without my hints and alterations.
Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
My family has a great influence on my design - they are my best critics and devotees at the same time.
Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
Design Of The Times. Lakshmi Bhaskaran, Graphic Design. Ellen Lupton, FontBook. Erik Spiekermann and many other books.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
I constantly improve my skills, move the bar upwards, learn new things, work on mistakes in order to be a great designer. I try to keep updated on news in architecture, fashion, design, illustration, photography. I analyze, absorb, and put much into practice. I always “play fair”, follow a certain algorithm in design development - this helps to determine the task, form, and implement the idea, achieve good results.
Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
I wish I could meet those outstanding personalities who’ve revolutionized design: Ron Arad, Peter Behrens, Philippe Starck, Andy Warhol, and others.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
It is a great honor and joy for me to receive such a prestigious award in the field of design. It inspires me to make my design even better and reach new heights.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
I love late spring when everything is in full bloom and there is no summer heat still. I prefer thick dark green, blue, turquoise shades. I feel comfortable at home, where I can spend time with my family or reading a book.
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
Recently, my client and I were selecting colors for the project. In the original layout, the main corporate color never changed, but each time the client printed out the image with his color printer, the printer produced different shades of the corporate color. The client had a whole collection of all kinds of shades that were not real corporate color, and he was very insistent on making the color for printings and the original corporate color identical. It was quite difficult to explain to him that there should be no focus on the office printer and that setting up the printer is not definitely in my power.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
I am passionate about my work, so it is not difficult for me to focus on projects. I always plan my working day in advance, check the deadline, determine priority, answer phone calls and emails, get inspired by other designers’ works, and, of course, listen to good music.
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
I don’t think that I realized my becoming a designer in childhood. I just did what I liked. One day I felt the desire to improve my skills and knowledge and still do it in an organized and comprehensive manner.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
Perhaps humanity will discover and inhabit several planets, and artificial intelligence will become usual in everyday life.
Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
I have big plans for my future. I would like to make my personal brand stronger in order to give my clients more of a great design on comfortable terms for cooperation.

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