Dmitry Kudinov

Good in Art Design.

Dmitry Kudinov

About Dmitry Kudinov

I am multidiscipline creative specialist, try to work with details of culture and historical context, if i have some, i try to learn more information about process from first step till last. Open to everything new, traveling makes my horizont of mind wider.

  • Winner of 4 A' Design Awards.
  • Good in Art Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Art
  • Graphic
Wisdom Path Climbing Tower

Wisdom Path Climbing Tower

Art Design

Embrace Site Specific Art

Embrace Site Specific Art

Art Design

Alternative Art Installation

Alternative Art Installation

Art Design

Ronin Silkscreen Print

Ronin Silkscreen Print

Graphic Design


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Interview with Dmitry Kudinov

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?
I have technical education, I am a medical equipment engineer by degree. I started my design activities in parallel with working at the factory. At nights I studied graphic software and took some orders from the people I knew. That was how I developed my portfolio.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
We started with an informal status of a creative union; a group of people united by one idea. The name came by itself, we called it Supernova meaning transformation of a massive giant star into the new supernova star. Initially, it was in the format of a creative union, we called ourselves Supernova Creative Conglomerate. Having obtained the official status in 2017, we renamed ourselves to Supernova Art Embassy. After a while we realized that we consolidate different parties. That was our initial mission and it goes through all our creative works. We unite different parties and try to solve tasks for several interested persons and companies involved. This is what our embassy does. Since most of our projects are urban, we manage festival programs and creative projects, that was the reason why we have called ourselves an Art Embassy.
What is "design" for you?
Design is a process in the first place, not a result. When people say, hey, that’s a cool design, looking at something. It seems to me that they talk about the process itself, how designer approached his task and solved it. This is some kind of modification. Designs may vary for the same thing or product; design might be totally different. Essentially, it is a process of modifying a thing. For instance, we can talk about bicycles. There were times when bicycles had a big front wheel and a smaller back one. There are monocycles, there are classic bicycles, road bicycles, tandems etc. You can unite all these under one category, but they are different, targeted for different audiences and different functions. Design is an application tool which modifies something in process.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
It is a creative process. Design is not created from scratch. There is some information, and processing of this information and transformation of it into some visual language, form and plot is what is interesting. But I do not want to limit myself by idea as a concept. I always try to complete a project. This balance between mental work while sitting in the office and on-site production represents an interesting change. The season is very short, in winter you mostly sit and develop these projects which is a more monotonous work. And in summers you move and travel, do some handy work. You do some physical work which also brings pleasure.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
There are a lot of favorite projects, I would even say I don’t have unfavorite projects. Maybe the first projects implemented stay most memorized. One of these was realized in 2012, Lucky Tart festival formatted as Murrell Festival involving both foreign and Russian artists. There were 45 participants representing 9 countries. Their participation resulted in 35 objects in the city, starting from small walls to large scale Murrells, works on buildings facades. I had my own purpose there – I wanted to meet the people I knew about from the Internet. And they themselves came to my city and created something. The atmosphere of the event, communication occurred, this friendly spirit of the whole festival, some surprises, gifts, improvisations – that was cool. Even after 8 years I recall it. I still can send a message to any participant and I will get some warm replies. They do remember me. It is important that when you went through such festival with a strict schedule and very tough work conditions for the whole team and the artists involved – this is what unites people. This friendly spirit is still there.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
I started doing author projects even before our Art Embassy team got together. That was not a pure start-up. We already had projects for the city. My first work was on a building façade in my hometown. There I acted both as a manager and as an artist. It is very nice to know that this work is still taken care of. It was a funny situation related to this work because the building façade should have been equipped with extra heat isolation. So, my work was covered with isolating materials. This was the painting of very cute pandas. At the end that was kind of a sandwich: panda-isolation-panda. We often joke about this, looks like these pandas are freezing in the Russian climate.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
I have to work with various materials. It is very interesting to use available materials for another purpose, for instance, recyclables, process and use them. I am talking mostly about installations. It does not occur often. I like to work with wood. Most of our works are connected with paints. We started with spray paint but eventually we switched to façade paints. Their colors are warmer and the effect is more artistic. I think these are the most perspective materials now, including working with wet roller technology.
When do you feel the most creative?
Most probably, the moment of the first meeting with a client. I realize that I already have clear ideas. I talk about some ideas at these meetings using them as some kind of a bait. But I keep some of them to myself because it would be very easy to devaluate them. You have to keep the balance: on one hand, share your way of thinking, on the other hand you can hold on with some most interesting ideas and details. It all happens within one hour. As one of my friends says, if I do not have any ideas within the first ten minutes, it will be very difficult to work on this project.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
This is about context and infrastructure, the environment around the object, other peculiarities, historical facts and historical context, cultural codes, everything that makes this puzzle complete.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Initially you feel excited, you feel courage and inspiration. Later on, you come across difficulties. You need to be able to complete what you do. You have to be more concentrated to make a project work. You need to go through a lot of interim stages important for project implementation. The last emotions are relief, satisfaction, joy which passes quite fast. As I said before it is interesting to follow further destiny of a project and what is going on around it. Your author work becomes public heritage, and something happens to it.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
Sometimes you feel this excitement when your idea starts to develop. You don’t have a complete idea from the start. You see your result, but how do you reach it? You start to guess. And this moment of your discovery of solutions creates this excitement. It does not mean, though, that I scream and shout in excitement or run around my room filled with joy. You just have more courage, and you do it and do it and do it to come to some optimal solution which will be relevant to all requirements.
What makes a design successful?
Most probably, consciousness. Consciousness and harmony. This is always a balance between dualistic things. You want to do something just to be beautiful or you want to do something functional? This balance, this line represents success of a project. It should take into account a lot of opinions and parameters.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
When I have a concept and an idea, and I have visualized them, I start using it. If a project is most adaptive for various tasks because tasks and context may change overtime. Initial parameters do change. If a design is adaptive to new conditions, then it may be considered a good one. There are cases when I need to adapt it to new technologies, and it is very difficult to do it. For instance, there are technical restrictions which I have not considered in the beginning. I would not say that it is a bad design, but it is more difficult to work with it. This is the thought about cases when designers give something to clients in a digital format without producing it in a physical form. I imagine how a client without any design work experience, without a brand manager and without a team which can clarify this idea, experience difficulties in adapting a design. I think that this is the criteria of a bad design when a person does not understand how he can use it for his purposes.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
This is responsibility when you give out something to people and they do not understand how to work with that. Your responsibility is consulting, assistance, giving hints. You should not just sell your product or your service. You must be responsible and be able to admit mistakes. This is the criteria of your social responsibility. Unfortunately, not all people can admit their mistakes, but there is no development without mistakes.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I think there is a strong demand for design in pandemic conditions. Not in the current pandemic peak conditions but later on when people realize that they will have to adjust to new conditions. When digital is the only form of presentation of your products and services, digital is hard to imagine without design. All areas of design are involved here: development and projecting. It is hard to get rid of the material world but there will be higher demand for digital design than before. There are pre-conditions for VR and AR development. It also uses artificial intelligence. Neural networks are something on the peak development, but I suppose there are more prospective developments which relate to design.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
I never participated in exhibitions. I was a company representative on smaller markets which can be hardly called an exhibition. You may consider public spaces work an exhibition. It is more interesting to work with urban spaces since these works stay as art objects within the city. Essentially, they represent an exhibition of my works. They are spread around many cities.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
First source of inspiration is communication with people. Travel is the second one. This is also communication i.e. going deeper into different cultures and contexts. It all is kept in your brain, and at a certain moment it works as a trigger. The more information you get, the more active is your brain in establishing neural connections between seemingly different moments which you witnessed somewhere, heard about them, read about them or somebody told you about them. And this moment of integration of totally different ideas is inspiration.
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 believe that I do not have any exact style, I am a multidisciplinary creative personality, not even a designer. I am always interested in technologies and manufacturing. I cannot avoid connecting design with manufacturing. I see a gap between those two. They must interact. That is why I am interested in various fields and related or even remotely related professions. Apart from art practices and design, you must be aware of the basics of architecture, urban science, sociology, psychology and art science.
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?
It is very often that I work with cultural codes representing the cultural heritage. Our country has a very serious generation gap. There were several gaps and it required time to develop new schools and new styles. Unfortunately, continuity was not saved. In this respect I feel more restrictions than inspiration. I feel some inspiration but from very old projects of 1920s and 1930s as well as those of 1960s to 1980s. This is the development of Soviet schools of monumental artists, architecture and many other things.
How do you work with companies?
This is quite simple. Companies are people. And we work with people in the first place. Now it is the Internet era, the epoque of remote interaction. But we try to involve and personally meet the companies’ managers who work with us on these projects. Word of mouth works very well, same people migrate from one company to another, and their experience follows them. They recall you when they have a task where you can be of assistance. The company has the case of cooperation with us. But I would like to point out the people with initiatives, able to offer something to companies, to become project authors. This is the most important thing.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
For me it is a serious problem. We have a team of people working in different areas. We have an understanding who possesses strengths in certain areas, and you refer to them directly. When working as a multidisciplinary designer with a company, I had to do a lot of things. On one hand, it is good. On the other hand, you are overloaded and you are unable to complete your work. New tasks come up. Anyway, it seems to me that taken our teal company strategy, these are self-organized groups. Our idea is that the team should be staffed depending on a task. You cannot just take one designer, artist or any other specialist and tell him: look, you will be doing this here, and there you will be doing totally different thing. The guy has certain strengths, you need to see them. Here you act like a tutor and you offer him something. Even if a person did not do this before, it is important to ask whether he wants to try it. If he does, you must create conditions, let him try. Maybe he can show himself in different fields. Sometimes he takes a position in a company just because this position seems the most comprehensible and most obvious one for him. But he can show himself as a specialist in other fields. I often met such people. You need to see their strengths and provide them with development opportunities.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
I start with analytics and concept. If we talk about stages, there is pre-production, formulating of an idea, drafting budget documentation. Preparation takes a lot of time. Ideas show up fast, but pre-production is stretched in time. The production itself takes a short time, i.e. the implementation of a project. It consists of many parameters, but you already thought them of. There is a post-production stage where you put the cases together, publishing on the Internet etc. Application for competitions is also post-production. It is difficult to say where it starts and where it ends. It is also not clear where ideas come from. The more experience you have, the more spontaneous is the process. You get more excited by the process rather than torture yourself with one idea trying to implement it. You have to do everything gradually, then you won’t experience difficulties.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
I love vintage items very much. When I travel, I always go to flee markets and get old things there. I do not know whether you can call these things designer items. I also have a lot of canvases by artists we work with. We try to collect their works and make it our first priority. So, the great number of author’s canvases and things I brought from my travels. I do not think it makes sense to point out exact things. There are some clothing items designed by us. We use them in our day-to-day work. We also have collaborations with artists, all these improvisations which are interesting because of this spontaneity. We have the jersey shirt of Argentinian team from the FIFA World Cup. At that moment these shirts were not yet officially on sale. Somehow, we got this exclusive item. We framed it and put it on the wall. Unfortunately, it does not have Messi’s or somebody else’s autograph on it. It was initiated by the city municipality. It was nice to get such an exclusive gift. These artefacts fill in any space where we work. It is very interesting because these things animate the space.
Can you describe a day in your life?
You always have a lot of routines. Roughly, a year is divided into two seasons: summer season from April to September, the key concentration of production projects, self-realization. You move a lot from region to region, from city to city adapting to each new situation. In winters your mode is more settled, you start to work on new projects and ideas, deal with things you had no time for before. You cannot avoid routines; they are part of any process. You need to make it your habit. Working with documents distracts you a bit and it helps because before when you lacked experience you started your morning with surfing professional groups in social media, you follow other people’s work. It took a lot of time, you tried to get a note board either for your current tasks or just for inspiration. Now I do not need it. There are a lot of different tasks, you are deep into permanent thinking process. There is no point of loading yourself with some extra ideas. But there is another part – to watch and to monitor what is happening in the world in terms of trends, what solutions do other guys find, whether they are from your field or the fields close to yours. Information is a very strong tool for a designer. It comes up when you need it. Maybe the brain works like this: it activates when you realize, aha! This is the solution. I can compare myself with mathematicians when they have their insights. If you do not know a solution for something, this means that you lack information about the task, about the object, you have not analyzed the situation. If we talk about production, communication is what makes me excited and happy. Sometimes it is useful to switch to other tasks, to work with figures, do some analytics. It is important to see the results in figures. It can be profit margins for a certain project, how many projects you have completed, budgeting a project may also be rather interesting. You need to know how to develop tools which will eventually optimize your time and to have an ability for forecasting, to develop tools for your future projects in order to be less involved in routines
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
You need to learn to work with people. People are different. At least they are divided into introverts and extraverts. Even in a smaller company you have to take into account specific traits of character of different people. Sometimes it is even funny. When you are on a business trip somewhere and you distribute the rooms – somebody snores, somebody is a vegetarian, somebody follows the religious lent. This is the reality we experience now at our current project. And it is complicated, you need to be a psychologist, you must see what is going on around you. This relates to organizational issues. Anyway, the key issue here is a person’s responsibility for the work done. You cannot come to somebody else’s space, do something there and will not be held responsible for that. You have to have conscious attitude to the project and be responsible for that.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
I think that can be related to negative trait – young designer is always a maximalist. He tries to change everything around him even if nobody asks for his opinion. When he grows up professionally, he realizes that it is impossible to change everything around you. But this power to change something as a designer is still in place. This is such an ephemeral tool that you cannot feel it originally. But it allows you to change something. This changes with experience, this changes with technological development. Designer always has a perspective because he depends on many external factors and can always develop. There is no such thing as an upper development limit.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
It can be related to my slogan: ‘deeper roots, stronger branches’. It is reflected in my role model character and defines the essence of my approach.
What skills are most important for a designer?
You gain professional skills through practice. You learn from more experienced people and you improve your technical and professional skills. Values possessed by a person are important as well as meanings he inputs in his work.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
The main one we use is Adobe Creative Cloud including Photoshop and Illustrator. There are others which allow to structure projects, manage projects. Mostly this is some basic office tools. Google Drive for data storage. Each software is used for certain tasks. Pictures on Google Photo. For our production we mostly need handwork. Software is just a tool allowing access to documents and files from any point, send and receive them. It is also necessary, it simplifies everything. But mostly our work involves handwork. We use minimum equipment, like aerial devices for working on high objects, different painting devices like compressors. We have the team of industrial climbers using more extended equipment - lifting devices, safety ropes. Paintbrushes and painting rollers mostly, spray paint was a key element in our culture. But many of us leave it behind while growing up. Now we use façade and exterior paints which allow to produce more picturesque works. They are smoother and better fit the landscape.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
Yes, it is so. From the moment of the first client’s request, the first idea to the end of the project it is difficult to set up an exact time frame. Many processes follow one another, and something happens to them all the time. It is important to set priorities, define those niches where it is interesting to work and build a short-term development strategy basing on that and move in that direction. Then you have more time. It is important to be able to reject projects if you understand that they will be time-consuming, but you will gain nothing as a specialist. Designer’s function is to assist a client, but self-education and professional growth are of equal importance. Many designers to not change their field because they get used to it.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
It differs, there are very short-term projects, you have to create something overnight to implement a project next day. These are spontaneous projects; they are normally related to some events in the city or at the location. And there are some very long-term projects, from 6 months to 2 years, these were the longest projects. Pre-production takes huge amount of time, working with documentation and budgets, everything that precedes signing of a contract and payments. The implementation itself takes the shortest time. Pre-production and post-production take much longer. You have to be able to book time for that.
What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
The questions asked about my artistic practices are the same throughout the years: how much time and paint you spent, what was your original idea, do people like it and these literal things. Very rarely people get deep into the processes and (however strange it seems) ask questions about how my concept was reflected. If there is a meeting or any other communication and you are able to share things, people start seeing my work differently.
What was your most important job experience?
It is difficult to say. Experience is important, practices of interaction with professionals from other areas is important. It is always interesting to work with people from other areas because you can learn a lot from them. Since we have professional climbers, artists, photographers, videographers working with us, all of them can be called artists, but areas of their business are totally different. Now we have come to the project of making a documentary. We never did that before, and it is always interesting to learn something new.
Who are some of your clients?
When I was a designer employed by a company, I worked with Nike, Adidas, Kidzania, Gett. Among most recent – a large number of municipalities, we are friends with a lot of mayors’ offices because urban projects are our major. Also, different brands work with us like MegaMall, IKEA. There are less renowned but very interesting clients like Drop, Senezh (the tower project), Artek kids camp, we also had Moscow Zoo. These are just those whom I can recall immediately. There are many more of them and I do not even remember some of them.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I like both to develop ideas and implement them. I like when there is some practical application of these projects, i.e. thinking about functionality of things. This includes art projects, industrial design, brand development, I like all these in complex. I like projects where you cannot define that this is just one design category. Many categories of design, architecture and research part are included in one project. That’s the interesting part of them, because you cannot select the most efficient tool set without going deep into a project. Here you start to include various specialists because you understand that in integrity this project will be much more interesting and comprehensible for most of the public. That is why we always invite photographers and try to make videos since they reflect some internal processes seen only after implementation of a project.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
We have this story with a festival tour, we have a full presentation of this project. Unfortunately, we cannot make it for the second year in a row. This season we should have travelled through several cities, including foreign countries with some participants. But in the meantime, we have difficulties related to travel restrictions due to pandemic. We have enough work to do but we are desperate to implement such format because it presumes going deep into different cultures and contexts. Using this road show format, we want to tell about metamorphosis happening when you get into different situations. I really hope that this project will be financed, we will have cool partners and we will be able to implement this project globally. When the project was developed, we planned to cross Russia from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg and then we will cross Europe from Portugal to Belarus. This amount to approximately 40 000 km. This is a symbiosis of a journey, practices, painting and pure fun.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
Most often we work as a team. We tailor teams for specific projects. Every time there are different participants involved in a project. I develop some projects myself, some of them are developed in collaborations. When you come to the starting point of a project, you realize that you will not be doing it just by yourself, you need other people for project implementation. But sometimes I want to do some work for myself. That is how I made the prints for clothes, and they have become gifts for the people I work with, I can give it as a gift.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
Now we are in the project for two weeks already. The project has been being prepared for the last 6 months. It means that we start preparing for 2020 season as early as at the end of 2019, and it happens every year. Currently it is a project called Memorandum dedicated to 75th anniversary of the Victory in WWII. In fact, this is just the first part of a big urban project. It consists of three full-time festivals with participation of international colleagues. The projects presume participation of the local people. We are just starting to facilitate these projects. The interest is growing. But we cannot make the tour format. We already have key points where we will travel further. Anyway, we want to implement this festival tour. When we are finished in this town, we will leave for another one or another country. If it gets cold, we will head south and settle there at some art residence and we will do something there. We want to implement such a project very much. There are certain hints that we can do it. We had to update the initial idea and adjust to the current situation in the world.
How can people contact you?
We are quite transparent. We are modifying our website. But other contacts are available. The easiest way to contact us is via email. One of the platforms where we present the extended portfolio is Behance. Supernova.net is our major account in all social media. You can easily find any of our contacts there. We always react very promptly.
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
Since it was of first experience of participating in competitions, moreover, in international ones, and we did not count on any award or even nomination. We just wanted to present ourselves because you realize that you are doing something important, but you cannot always share it, you do not always have time for that. Festivals and competitions formats are optimal solutions for translation of your ideas, projects and skills. This is concentration of all experience you gained throughout the years. It is clear that it takes a long way to go. I have been doing street art for 20 years

Designer of the Day Interview with Dmitry Kudinov

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I started feeling myself as a designer in 2008. Then I worked at the factory as control and measuring systems specialist. I moved to Kazan immediately after my army service. I got a job at Kazan Orgsintez chemical factory. That was a year of economic uncertainty in the country. These were hard times in terms of finding a job. My friend worked at that factory. That was not his free will also, it was a necessity. So, I got a job there, but I realized that it is temporary. At nights I started to study graphic software. I started working on my first customer orders, I usually got them from the people I knew. The number of orders grew incrementally, I had less and less free time because my work schedule did not allow for that. Mostly I worked at nights and I learned things through practice. I did not get any formal education, but through trial and error I studied various cases, tried to figure out how it happens, what you must do to achieve certain results. After a year of working at the factory I realized that I wanted to work as a designer – that was my dream at that time. With a help of a girl I knew I got a job with my first design studio. That was not the best place to work. The company managed to stay in business for 8 months only. However, working in a team allows you to learn some other things. These guys had their own approach, kind of a dim vision and I did not like it much. However, I had succeeded in implementing my own ideas. The criteria of success and quality for me was when my ideas were implemented without any amendments. After these 8 months, having realized that I would not work there anymore, me and the guys from this company organized our own business. We rented an office and moved there. We were kind of a self-organized freelance group. But that was not enough for me. Through the social media I learned about an open position in Kazan with a design studio. It was a funny situation at the job interview when I was asked, who is an authority for me. Actually, I had not done any prep for that interview. I said that I try to stay away from authority and have my own opinion. Probably this played a certain role and I had been hired. It was difficult at the beginning because they had different rules of the game. Design level was more serious, and I had to adjust myself. Once I was even at the point of being fired but I managed to perform well and showed myself within one project. And I worked there for a long time. But I went on doing street art stuff part time. I believe that these two fields have something in common anyway. I started getting orders. So, I showed up in that company as a street artist, asked my friend to join it as an illustrator. The two of us started to offer not only graphic design ideas but also projects related to urban territory improvement. The first projects showed up, including larger ones but still on a local level. Later on, I resigned from that company and worked freelance for a long time studying totally different areas. I had functionality of both a designer and a manager, sometimes even a PR manager and art director. The clients represented diverse industries, and this allowed to work not only on a single project or several projects at the same time. This also brought a skill to adjust yourself to different tasks. Flexibility helped a lot in this respect – I worked with clothing design, clothing prints, the tasks were totally different. What I did not like about the graphic design at that time was the lack of a physical result. I just wanted to touch my work, hold it in my hands. I realized that the problem of the most of young designers is the inability of being responsible for the result. They produce some pictures, and a client must do something with them. I was not satisfied at all with this impracticability of graphic design. I was searching for similar areas where I could apply my skills. So, I worked in Flash programming and animation, performed the roles of an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer – I tried most of the key fields of design. I had this desire to produce something functional that you can hold in your hands, where you can work on your mistakes and show it to the people. So, I started visiting industrial facilities, asking questions about how it worked, why this was impossible to implement and how this problem could be solved. Creative thinking is linking an original idea to functionality. You cannot universally adapt any idea. You always need to realize how it will be used at the end. Therefore, there should be a specific technology related to certain tasks. There is a huge gap between designers and technologists, and I saw it myself when people having profoundly serious equipment at their disposal did not realize the whole range of its application in practice. Step by step I started to learn what was it and how it worked and what were the limits. Having learned that I realized the technological aspects, too. After a freelance period, I started developing artistic practices remotely. I painted something as a hobby or just for an extra money. At a certain point I started focusing on larger art objects and projects which I wanted to implement. I have realized then that the graphic design per se has become just a tool for me. Artistic practices are a transfer process and design is a visualization tool. Design itself is not a result. I got the first larger clients and then I was invited to become a Development Director in Moscow. That was the first graffiti agency with development plans in Moscow but there were difficulties. At that moment I felt the gap between creative and businesspeople. Creative people, being impulsive and emotional, hardly realize that business is built on some basic business processes. In this case I worked simultaneously as Business Development Manager as well being responsible for the approach to projects. I produced a lot of sketches made either by me or by some of the artists. That became a symbiosis, we found a certain niche where all these skills made sense. You do some hands-on job and you understand how it will be done. You must originally build your thinking about designs and visual range and other technical issues basing on these limits, i.e. how it will be made and produced, how it will relate to the whole architecture of the object and corporate style of a client. We started getting major brands as clients, e.g. Kidzania. That was a project in Mexico, a professions town for kids, we decorated one of the walls. Also, Adidas, Nike, Gett. Moscow gives more opportunities for working with multinational brands. Although you do a small part for them, but you understand how they work. But very soon I reached the upper limit because it is very difficult to work being a company employed designer. I left that company and me and my wife established our own company targeted at urban projects. Any other projects being more closed, were less interesting. I wanted to work with urban space and integrate my work in it. Currently I work as and Art Director or Creative Director, although it is difficult to name it since I do not want to use any clichés. Here the line between work and hobby has been totally washed out because originally you come up with an idea and share it. You formulate the task for yourself, you do not have an actual client. You define conditions where you will be willing to do it. And you put forward a full-scale elaborate project which can be implemented. That is how we worked at FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017, next year we worked for FIFA World Cup 2018. From smaller and interesting clients, we came to author projects. Currently we deal with festival programs related to street art and urban art, practices of people involvement in projects implementation. My interests have changed slightly because it became interesting to work not only with contexts but culture codes as well. People started to entrust extremely complicated historical objects to us because we managed to harmoniously integrate our works in them. Our work should not look as an alien element but be integrated harmoniously into architecture and context and be comprehensible by broader audience. Talking about the Tower project, this is exactly the project representing high degree of trust. We did not need any approvals. We worked with this client before at Artek kids camp. We had a joint project with Bosco. Director of Artek communicated with us, he has been watching the whole process. And Senezh Management Workshop is also his project. He started to integrate us street artists step by step. The trust level was remarkably high and the job itself was very interesting.
How did you become a designer?
I partly responded to this question in my answers to the first one. I do not know, maybe some urge to reach the beauty. This beauty may not be perfect, but this beauty of imperfection was attractive. That is why I could not work as an employee because there is always somebody making decisions for you. I had my own vision, my own outlook which I wanted to implement on a broader basis. This transition from a hobby to professional experience is very difficult, I realize that. It was difficult for me, with failures and successes. These are the steps you have to take on a permanent basis. Every time you set an ultimate goal for yourself. If you reach it, you feel certain euphoria and satisfaction from both the process and the result. I know a lot of creative people who burn out fast. They do something and they like it but for a short while. I want to do something that, being looked at after several years after, will make you think yes, that’s a classic. That was a conscious action and design quality does not go away over time. The desire for minimalism and functionality drives me to do that.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
It is very difficult for me to point out something because I consider myself a multi-instrumentalist. I am interested in a lot of things, I don’t like when it all comes just to one certain style or technique. I want to try different things, I want to have diverse approach to each new project. And this interest is what stimulates me, there are no similar projects. Every one of them is different. You approach them in different moods with different messages. And the whole atmosphere of a projects is totally different every time. I think it is called polymath, a person who wants to develop in different directions. As far as priorities are concerned – everything is quite simple. First priority is a context: where the object is located, where the work will exist. Second criteria are codes, most commonly culture codes. Which triggers can give a hint for an idea? Context performs the same function. There are also human factors and things going on around it. Context is about landscape, environment, geography and infrastructure. Culture codes is about what is going on around it, how people interact with it. And the third priority is functionality. These are several dimensions of criticism or self-criticism which allow to filter out non-functional ideas. I have pointed out four dimensions: first one is aesthetics (first does not mean ‘most important’), you choose whether it is beautiful or not, working with lighting etc. The second is technical specification. This is about functionality and how can you implement this using certain tools, what are complications of an object itself, what you have to solve. You should assess your ideas on each and every step. If the technical implementation of your idea is impossible, then your idea becomes a phantasy. The third is functionality, how practical it will be in further use. The fourth is likeliness of task solution, i.e. how close I come to the desired result. Have I achieved it? Previous three provide me with a certain answer. It is clear that it might be the best solution for these weather conditions. Maybe, you may have done it better but taken the conditions that was an optimal solution. Here the proverb ‘the best is an enemy of the good’ works.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
Originally, when working on a project you try to detach yourself from it, to isolate from any emotions. For starters, you need to know what it is, you collect information. That is why your perception is quite neutral. Of course, there are objects which you are desperate to work with, you have certain inspiration. But this may create obstacles because you want to produce something really cool, you fail, and you are disappointed without looking too far ahead. And the key issue is to leave certain space for improvisation, make adjustments while doing the job. Because always there is this correction which is necessary. You may not take something into consideration, you may be unaware of something that comes on a surface later. There is also an element of occasion, something happens accidentally, your computer mouse moved, and you moved something, this impulsiveness moment makes it interesting, because you start to look at certain things from another angle. Both a process and a result bring excitement, but more excitement comes from a process, mental processes, creative processes. You create something and you realize that this is some kind of a neutral space, and you can fill it with ideas and transform it. Art changes the space. People’s behavior changes because of that. This is the power of influencing the society since we mostly work with public spaces, this is very important. You must carry your social responsibility and you need to realize that you cannot overdo here. If you do it for yourself, go ahead and do it in some secluded rooms, in your apartment. But in the case of public spaces you must carry this responsibility. When you consider all parameters, people perceive it differently, not as an alien invasion into their public space but something that completes this space. Here emotions work for a final result. You may never come back there, you can only have photos in digital form, just some aspects, but people will see it. If there is some fresh feedback, for instance, I have received a message today. The mapping has been made in my work. I had a brief look at that, but I have met a person participating in it and it was interesting to know how this work lives after me, what happens to it eventually.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
I think the key issue is openness. You must be able to look from different points of view. This relates to being multidisciplinary. This is very frequent in my job. I cannot isolate myself in one style. Many do believe that style is the same plot repeating again and again. I don’t think so. I think there are totally different contexts and you cannot apply the same tool or the same solution to different contexts. Second aspect is critical attitude to yourself. You need to see your mistakes and work on them, both in the process and in the result. You are not able to do everything perfectly. It depends on a lot of factors like deadlines. You think: I wish I had one more day, then I would have done everything perfectly. It does not work that way. You set certain goal, approach it as close as possible. And then you must work on your mistakes. What would you change next time, this is your growth step. There are no people who influenced me. A creator does not create a new idea from nothing. He needs some initial data. There is a recipe: you must collect information, you must study contexts, infrastructure etc. You put it in your head, you have certain thinking pattern which allows you to filter out non-functional versions, sometimes you think that you have to do something crazy to make it work. You select certain formula for creation of something. And in your work in progress you have this improvisation which itself is a swagger. You cannot love your work if it is a hard labor for you. It is hard physically, it exhausts you morally. You must enjoy the process. As far as the path is concerned, I think design is just a tool. I do not consider myself as just some kind of a designer, but design allows to solve many tasks. Design itself is not a final product. There is no such thing as my designer’s path whereas I have other paths where I am not a designer. There was no point where I suddenly became a designer. It depends on the way you were brought up, whom you communicate with, your communication circle, many different parameters. How you view the world is your perception of the world. This is how you approach various tasks. You can call yourself a designer, an architect, an artist, a philosopher, it does not matter. There is a certain category of people who must have a wider vision of their tasks.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
I have to deal more with administrative tasks, invent a project, curate it, manage it, promote it. These are issues that can hardly be called creative, although there is a creative element in them. As far as plans are concerned, the nearest project is painting of a military aircraft. It is very rarely that you have such chances and you want to make it as cool as possible. But here you fall into some kind of a stupor because it seems that don’t have any limitations and you want to do it for yourself in the first place, kind of an interesting case. I can say that I re-think things once in 6 months. There is a season, and you come to the start of it with one idea and one strategy. But during the season everything changes dramatically especially now during the worldwide isolation. The plans initially built need to be seriously adjusted in accordance with this force majeure situation happening irrespective of you. The projects I wish to realize if I have more time, are always present. There are projects in my desk and not everything works out, this is normal. Probably I want more overseas projects, working with new contexts because different countries have totally different mentalities, different people. It is interesting, just like when travelling – you see something, new culture, new places, you feel certain emotions and you want to translate them through artistic practices. Many of the world’s renowned artists do that. There is no specific desire for fame, but the idea of travelling and creating something itself is attractive. Talking about the project I want to implement that in a tour format which should solve several tasks, format of a kind of a festival tour. I have such projects but for years I have not been able to implement it in this format. There is certain progress in this direction. It is interesting to organize such kind of a road show in various cities with communication, changing locations, because I realize that it affects my development as a person a lot, including my openness. It is not enough to see something remotely, you need to go deeper in it.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
I think that the key advice would be that you will have mistakes, you have to work on them and accept them as something that should occur. This is a part of the process, part of growing up professionally, and it is necessary to go through it. You need to try, if you do not try you won’t make mistakes. Many people talk about that, you need to make mistakes because this is more lively experience you are gaining.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
Sooner or later we all return to the meaning of the word ‘community’: a professional community, a community of people having common interests. It is necessary for growth. It can’t happen without communication. That is why you want to meet more people with the unique experience. They should not necessarily be super famous, each one of them has his own experience. If a person is a pro, he has his own point of view. And I want these opinions to be shared through communication. The more different they are, the more interesting is the interaction and collaboration. These are banal words, but really interaction is about people influencing each other. The joint product is born, joint creation is interesting. You frequently come across this in street cultures when you have a joint production united by one idea and each participant has his own vision of this idea, and something interesting comes up.
What is your day to day look like?
You always have a lot of routines. Roughly, a year is divided into two seasons: summer season from April to September, the key concentration of production projects, self-realization. You move a lot from region to region, from city to city adapting to each new situation. In winters your mode is more settled, you start to work on new projects and ideas, deal with things you had no time for before. You cannot avoid routines, they are part of any process. You need to make it your habit. Working with documents distracts you a bit and it helps because before when you lacked experience you started your morning with surfing professional groups in social media, you follow other people’s work. It took a lot of time, you tried to get a note board either for your current tasks or just for inspiration. Now I do not need it. There are a lot of different tasks, you are deep into permanent thinking process. There is no point of loading yourself with some extra ideas. But there is another part – to watch and to monitor what is happening in the world in terms of trends, what solutions do other guys find, whether they are from your field or the fields close to yours. Information is a very strong tool for a designer. It comes up when you need it. Maybe the brain works like this: it activates when you realize, aha! This is the solution. I can compare myself with mathematicians when they have their insights. If you do not know a solution for something, this means that you lack information about the task, about the object, you have not analyzed the situation. If we talk about production, communication is what makes me excited and happy. Sometimes it is useful to switch to other tasks, to work with figures, do some analytics. It is important to see the results in figures. It can be profit margins for a certain project, how many projects you have completed, budgeting a project may also be rather interesting. You need to know how to develop tools which will eventually optimize your time and to have an ability for forecasting, to develop tools for your future projects in order to be less involved in routines
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
I have already said about that. There is no need for it now. It is clear that something is happening. If something sensational and known to everybody is happening, you try to find out more about this. But in general (I would not call it a style or my own approach), most frequently some idea comes up and you are too much impressed by works of others, this will affect your final result. Such inspiration will make you produce a replica of somebody else’s work, this will be some joint image. But if you have an idea independently from external factors (in most cases, if this project does not fit from the start and people do not understand it), there is certain excitement in that, because you think that you created something that did not exist before, something not in the mainstream. Maybe they will come to it, maybe not. Something unique? Yes. There is certain interest in working with kitsch, too. If there is something that is rejected by others, but you can work with that, that becomes your own style. I can’t figure out where does the inspiration come from. Before I had to stimulate it, be impressed, think for a long time. Eventually, you gain experience and you put some things aside if you cannot solve a task or you cannot comprehend the final result. Information loaded in your head is still processed and the solution comes up absolutely accidentally. I do not know whether this is inspiration or not. It reminds me of a cooking book. You take some ingredients and put them in a broth and you need certain conditions for this recipe to work. If you change some parameters and something new comes to life, this is also a set of tools that you can use. If you understand that you take the path already traveled, you can consciously change certain parameters and triggers, and this will lead to a new result.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
I already talked about this cube of dimensions for assessing any idea or a project. The same applies here. You evaluate aesthetics, technical parameters. There are technical aspects which you figure out immediately: working with colors, for instance. You can always see whether it was done on purpose or not, being it a lack of experience or a conscious choice. You can always see the author’s hand. And also, functionality, likeliness of solution. You can add other aspects to a project. When it starts to interact with space, numerous aspects are added extra, and you have to consider them. There is no such thing as an ideal recipe, you try to select priority directions. If you evaluate somebody else’s project, you can always say: from my standpoint I would do it differently. Or this is absolutely bad because you cannot implement these technical parameters. You can evaluate a project in many different ways. Your taste still plays a role because it is still a subjective judgement. To be objective, you have to collect a huge number of opinions, and your opinion cannot be maximally objective. It is still there, you have your own experience, another person has his own. You need to understand who did it and where. You can define types of designs, whether it was made by an Indian or German designer. American style is very different. When you try to produce something as an analogue with somebody else, it is very difficult. You have your own understanding whether it is good or bad, but other people have their own. It is actually a very complex question and the judges team is very diverse in each case. People should have a look from different points of view. However strange it may seem, the most constructive criticism may come from an absolutely unexpected source. It might be just a person passing by. Since he is not involved in this task, he has a clear and simple vision. His criticism can be much more practical and useful for you.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
I have partly responded to this question. You have a certain time frame, you pick up style, techniques and tools taken the existing limitations. If the initial data would have changed, then you would make it differently. Or maybe, half a year later you would definitely make it differently. I do know, there is still no clear understanding whether it is ready or not. There are always some aspects that I want to amend. Even waking up the other morning you can think, yes, that was not bad, but now I would have done it differently. You should not be an idealist. You have to pick up some priority criteria and work with them. You have to set a short-term task: I want to do this in this project. You leave the rest out of your framework of your judgement. You can decide whether the project is ready or not in accordance with the goals set. If you have achieved them, then you can understand that it is ready. If something is biased, you can mark it as your work on mistakes and bear that in mind in your next projects.
What is your biggest design work?
There were a lot of large projects, although it hard to say how large they were. If you look at it from a cosmopolitan point of view, they are quite small. All my practice may be considered as one big project implemented throughout your professional activity. For instance, when you get older, you will produce sculptures. And this will be a big project for you because you will learn to do something new, you will learn to work with new materials, more sophisticated which you lacked patience to work with when you were younger. That is why what is happening right now, at any given moment which you call present is the biggest project. Eventually you will understand that some minor project gave you more opportunities for self-realization and gave you more opportunities for other projects. This is the permanent chain of events which never breaks. You come to bigger projects through smaller ones, smaller tasks. They grow and something unexpected may happen during this process. But the global thinking is another thing. You need talent to come to global tasks through smaller ones.
Who is your favourite designer?
I already said that there is no authority per se. There are no favorites. But I can talk about artists. There are certain artists I want to follow, and this relates to current moment. Those who seemed interesting, due to your personal growth or their developments (they can move to other niches) you stop following them. New names come up, you switch to them, it is a permanent process. Therefore, I do not have any icons at all. It all goes rather smoothly, and you cannot sometimes notice it, but taste changes overtime. Talking about design in general, minimalism and practicality is a sort of concentration. You can compare it with hokku poems that should reflect a very deep thought in three lines. Take a long poem and make it short. That is the thing about minimalism – it is like a needle sting which reaches the exact target. This is about the style. As some designers say, a good design should not be visible. This also relates to minimalism. If you use something that influences you, but you do not notice that, this is the good design.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
I have a nomadic lifestyle, from project to project, from task to task. You have to always be on your toes. There are some failures in work, and you burn out morally and physically. You just need to have a rest and switch to something else. There are several aspects here: you travel, you learn something new. Then it affects you in a positive way. The city that inspires me (I haven’t seen it all) – in the meantime, it is Barcelona. Switzerland as a whole is very inspiring. But you can find inspiration in everything – my last trip to Cyprus inspired me by the winter sun which stayed very low and the shadows were very long. The same places change depending on a season. Music inspires too, but I came to calmer music with no lyrics, because it is the least distracting. Your brain does not switch to lyrics, so, in general, more quiet music. We currently work on a big project dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the World War II. This is a very serious project with serious cast of artists. It is like a Groundhog Day, day by day. I act as a curator, ideologist, and author of this project. The guys spend 10 hours daily at the object in a non-stop mode. Their schedule of work is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. And I deal with other things necessary for smooth functioning of all participants. I deal with other things, and yes, it involves more routines, more administrative issues to resolve, logistics and other things, but it is necessary. Their result will be my work result. We will see what will be produced very soon.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
The ideas of teal organizations and holacracy are very attractive. Such horizontal hierarchy of teams doing their jobs. It goes like this in our work: each one of us does his job. We collaborate within one exact project. You always pick a tailored team because some people would perform this task better being more suitable for a job. You act as some kind of a mentor: you direct some people and you curate the others. This is the philosophy of more trust and less control. There are things that depend on you, as an ideologist and project author you are responsible for it, for achieving the final goal set by you originally. But you need to understand that every person’s contribution affects the result a lot. And you have to accept it more calmly, this metamorphosis, going back to improvisation being part of a process. It also inspires you. It looks like you know what is supposed to happen, but it happens slightly differently from your expectations, and that is what makes my work interesting. We work mostly with public spaces. It is interesting to see the philosophy changing, not only your own, but of the people as a whole. You see how their behavior changes, what is going on, which social processes occur when you are done with your work. Actually, the whole research must be done involving sociologists and psychologists. But in general, good design changes a lot. The good work stays in place. We see some classical works after centuries still influencing us, and this is the criteria of their quality. They survived a long period of time because originally, they were quality works. Something badly done does not reach us after centuries, something artisanal. It has been forgotten. Quality results do make their way through time.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
We originally were targeted at creating conditions for self-realization of many people. This is what our curators’ practice and mentoring are all about. You create conditions for other people’s work. It is easy to notice now, that there is a great decline in interest for culture. And since you are doing this, you try to find some breakthrough points. We do have pro bono projects, too. But our first priority is to create workplaces. In this case this is more interesting. People lack opportunities. They do not realize how to achieve something. And when they are provided with such opportunities and these opportunities are the way to make money – this is probably our contribution. We are always open to involve people. Their involvement is an important factor of social protection within certain projects. They start treating their work as their own. They become co-authors. It does not always work for some reasons, sometimes it is due to safety requirements or impossibility of their involvement. We really want to provide work for disabled people, we need to move in this direction. It is very important that initiatives come from people themselves. A person with initiative is responsible for a result. There are normally two sides. If you put forward an initiative, you must complete it. It is very important. Before, I had more time to act as a speaker at various events. I tried to speak at different events and cheer people up. The topics were mostly related to social engineering, how to change the way of thinking. It was not an abstract speaking. It was based on exact cases which have already worked and showed prodigious results really quick. By establishing conditions for other people to work, you attract young people. By giving them certain share of autonomy and responsibility, you give them a chance. They either perform or don’t perform. This is and endless process you have to accept because in our specific business we staff the teams differently in accordance with different tasks. It does not always work. Errors occur, but next time you realize how you should do this time. Maybe somebody has showed skills in some other area. Initially you might have counted on certain strengths of this person and it turned out that he has different talents.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
This is literally the first competition we participated in, and it is an international one. We haven’t had such experience at all before. It is difficult to compare. It is nice to know that you become noticed within the professional community. This affects all further live contacts, communicating with experts from other countries. This will allow us to implement projects in other countries. These are the criteria described above – what do I need for personal growth? And here you can see this effect. As time passes, since I do not know what to expect, these are just my presumptions. This networking is achieved through competitions and festivals – two formats targeted at various social and professional contacts.

Extended Interview with Dmitry Kudinov

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I am a self-educated designer. I never studied design within a formal education. I have a technical education as medical equipment engineer. It helps me to look at design projects from an engineering point of view as they always have some technical issues. You need to combine creative thinking with a pragmatic point of view. You should understand how it works and which tools and technologies you have to use to achieve a desired result. I started feeling myself as a designer in 2008. Then I worked at the factory as control and measuring systems specialist. I moved to Kazan immediately after my army service. I got a job at Kazan Orgsintez chemical factory. That was a year of economic uncertainty in the country. These were hard times in terms of finding a job. My friend worked at that factory. That was not his free will also, it was a necessity. So, I got a job there, but I realized that it is temporary. At nights I started to study graphic software. I started working on my first customer orders, I usually got them from the people I knew. The number of orders grew incrementally, I had less and less free time because my work schedule did not allow for that. Mostly I worked at nights and I learned things through practice. I did not get any formal education, but through trial and error I studied various cases, tried to figure out how it happens, what you must do to achieve certain results. After a year of working at the factory I realized that I wanted to work as a designer – that was my dream at that time. With a help of a girl I knew I got a job with my first design studio. That was not the best place to work. The company managed to stay in business for 8 months only. However, working in a team allows you to learn some other things. These guys had their own approach, kind of a dim vision and I did not like it much. However, I had succeeded in implementing my own ideas. The criteria of success and quality for me was when my ideas were implemented without any amendments. After these 8 months, having realized that I would not work there anymore, me and the guys from this company organized our own business. We rented an office and moved there. We were kind of a self-organized freelance group. But that was not enough for me. Through the social media I learned about an open position in Kazan with a design studio. It was a funny situation at the job interview when I was asked, who is an authority for me. Actually, I had not done any prep for that interview. I said that I try to stay away from authority and have my own opinion. Probably this played a certain role and I had been hired. It was difficult at the beginning because they had different rules of the game. Design level was more serious, and I had to adjust myself. Once I was even at the point of being fired but I managed to perform well and showed myself within one project. And I worked there for a long time. But I went on doing street art stuff part time. I believe that these two fields have something in common anyway. I started getting orders. So, I showed up in that company as a street artist, asked my friend to join it as an illustrator. The two of us started to offer not only graphic design ideas but also projects related to urban territory improvement. The first projects showed up, including larger ones but still on a local level. Later on, I resigned from that company and worked freelance for a long time studying totally different areas. I had functionality of both a designer and a manager, sometimes even a PR manager and art director. The clients represented diverse industries, and this allowed to work not only on a single project or several projects at the same time. This also brought a skill to adjust yourself to different tasks. Flexibility helped a lot in this respect – I worked with clothing design, clothing prints, the tasks were totally different. What I did not like about the graphic design at that time was the lack of a physical result. I just wanted to touch my work, hold it in my hands. I realized that the problem of the most of young designers is the inability of being responsible for the result. They produce some pictures, and a client must do something with them. I was not satisfied at all with this impracticability of graphic design. I was searching for similar areas where I could apply my skills. So, I worked in Flash programming and animation, performed the roles of an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer – I tried most of the key fields of design. I had this desire to produce something functional that you can hold in your hands, where you can work on your mistakes and show it to the people. So, I started visiting industrial facilities, asking questions about how it worked, why this was impossible to implement and how this problem could be solved. Creative thinking is linking an original idea to functionality. You cannot universally adapt any idea. You always need to realize how it will be used at the end. Therefore, there should be a specific technology related to certain tasks. There is a huge gap between designers and technologists, and I saw it myself when people having profoundly serious equipment at their disposal did not realize the whole range of its application in practice. Step by step I started to learn what was it and how it worked and what were the limits. Having learned that I realized the technological aspects, too. After a freelance period, I started developing artistic practices remotely. I painted something as a hobby or just for an extra money. At a certain point I started focusing on larger art objects and projects which I wanted to implement. I have realized then that the graphic design per se has become just a tool for me. Artistic practices are a transfer process and design is a visualization tool. Design itself is not a result. I got the first larger clients and then I was invited to become a Development Director in Moscow. That was the first graffiti agency with development plans in Moscow but there were difficulties. At that moment I felt the gap between creative and businesspeople. Creative people, being impulsive and emotional, hardly realize that business is built on some basic business processes. In this case I worked simultaneously as Business Development Manager as well being responsible for the approach to projects. I produced a lot of sketches made either by me or by some of the artists. That became a symbiosis, we found a certain niche where all these skills made sense. You do some hands-on job and you understand how it will be done. You must originally build your thinking about designs and visual range and other technical issues basing on these limits, i.e. how it will be made and produced, how it will relate to the whole architecture of the object and corporate style of a client. We started getting major brands as clients, e.g. Kidzania. That was a project in Mexico, a professions town for kids, we decorated one of the walls. Also, Adidas, Nike, Gett. Moscow gives more opportunities for working with multinational brands. Although you do a small part for them, but you understand how they work. But very soon I reached the upper limit because it is very difficult to work being a company employed designer. I left that company and me and my wife established our own company targeted at urban projects. Any other projects being more closed, were less interesting. I wanted to work with urban space and integrate my work in it. Currently I work as an Art Director or Creative Director, although it is difficult to name it since I do not want to use any clichés. Here the line between work and hobby has been totally washed out because originally you come up with an idea and share it. You formulate the task for yourself, you do not have an actual client. You define conditions where you will be willing to do it. And you put forward a full-scale elaborate project which can be implemented. That is how we worked at FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017, next year we worked for FIFA World Cup 2018. From smaller and interesting clients, we came to author projects. Currently we deal with festival programs related to street art and urban art, practices of people involvement in projects implementation. My interests have changed slightly because it became interesting to work not only with contexts but culture codes as well. People started to entrust extremely complicated historical objects to us because we managed to harmoniously integrate our works in them. Our work should not look as an alien element but be integrated harmoniously into architecture and context and be comprehensible by broader audience. Talking about the Tower project, this is exactly the project representing high degree of trust. We did not need any approvals. We worked with this client before at Artek kids camp. We had a joint project with Bosco. Director of Artek communicated with us, he has been watching the whole process. And Senezh Management Workshop is also his project. He started to integrate us street artists step by step. The trust level was remarkably high and the job itself was very interesting. Currently I would like to be involved more in artistic activities, sometimes I manage to do it.
How did you become a designer?
Initially it was as with many young maximalist people – a desire to change the world. You want to do something, and every person finds a path to change the circumstances around. Eventually you come to understanding that you need to change yourself first, then your circle changes. And if your work means something at some location within certain context, your social behavior starts to change. And this is what supports my interest – design is still an instrument for visualization and presentation of the projects as well as their preparation. I have not been doing graphic design for quite a while. But it is still a tool set which allows you to be multidisciplinary. The more knowledge and skills you have, the higher is your professionalism. This helps in my work, as well as my technical education provides broader understanding of all processes.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
That was my voluntary decision to choose this path. I faced a lot of difficulties, especially when being a freelancer when you have to be a manager, an art director, a sales manager as well as a designer at the same time. You do a lot of stuff apart from you designer work. If I did not like it and if it was not my own desire, it would be easier to quit it.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
I tried the vast number of design areas. I started in graphic design mostly presented by publishing, that was the most common demand from the clients. Then I dealt with illustrations for Flash and we did some Flash animation, but I lost interest in that really quick. Then I produced printmaking for clothes and silk graphics for smaller scale and small production volumes works. I had certain interest in branding, not only identity development, but going from task setting to the result. But all these works did not give the feeling of a result. I did not realize how my work is perceived by consumers. I had some business cards printing and other publishing services, but I wanted to do something more functional and significant. All these related areas have been uniting in one within the framework of branding. But later I turned to more large-scale projects, that was my conscious decision. That was a serious and complicated step to take. In this situation you start to think on behalf of a huge number of people. You have to perceive everything through a new vision. Here everything is more sophisticated. You gain social projecting skills as well sociology, psychology, culturology and art studies. Everything related to art is combined within large-scale urban projects. Currently I have an opportunity to implement festival projects related to street art. I would like to go deeper into urbanistic studies and deal with more sophisticated social projecting and introduce participative practices. These are practices involving the community and the people. We do have them but not of such a large volume. I am also interested in installations. Maybe when I get older I will think about sculpture and larger volume things.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
You need to look at things not only from your point of view but from the point of view of other people. You should focus on functionality of the things that you do. There are certain areas which are related to phantasy and do not exist, like digital which you cannot touch and feel. But still there are some criteria like consumer experience which shows the quality of a design. Try things, unite with more experienced people because it is through communicating with them you become a better specialist. You learn much more from practice. Theory is also required, and you can advance in theory. Practice without theory can exist and theory without practice cannot.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
I think it is consciousness and responsibility for a result. I came across a lot of people being good designers and they let their customers go with nothing but mockups. It is important to complete your work, to help implement something. Here I am talking about some customer related tasks. I think that within each company you should bring projects to final results and share the final result. It is very important to hold a pilot project in your hands, have a look at disadvantages because they are always there. You cannot do everything perfectly from the first time. Great designers understand that. In order to produce a great result, you have to go through seven interim results. This is my practical experience of industrial design. In order to produce a more or less functional products taking into consideration all issues, you need to produce pilot projects, have a closer look at it, improve it. You set your quality criteria for yourself all right. But if you have responsibilities in front of a large number of people, you must realize that you have to take their demands into account.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
You set your own criteria, but you must consider the vision of all parties involved. To be more precise, first, you collect information, you should understand what you do and whom for, what is the expected result, at least approximately. Basing on information gathered, you set evaluation criteria, whether this design is good or not. Does the project solve tasks set initially or you declined from the initial direction? Here you should keep a balance between an ideal, practicality and other criteria. This balance and harmony are the features of a great design.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
These are more or less similar questions. The value is the fact that people use it. Practical usability is the value. Which tasks are solved for a consumer, for target audience? Do they really understand that? Nobody will use a beautiful thing if it is not functional, if it is not adapted or updated in accordance with different target groups requirements. Of course, there are groups of various ages: kids, adults, seniors. They have totally different perception of the scale of one room, for example, or the scale of a city. It is important to understand your target audience. The value is often transmitted through a consumer.
What is your day to day look like?
Difficult to say, maybe some new formats like we do now – decorating of a military aircraft. It is interesting to travel and work with international colleagues in international projects. The international festival format is extremely interesting. We planned one this year but due to the pandemic it has a big question mark on it. Gathering a community from different countries and with various backgrounds is cool because it could be a trampoline for the young. You can compare them within one project to provide growth. Experience is transferred by such festival programs.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
Of course, I am interested in some planetary scale projects, there are projects reaching out of the stratosphere. Doing something with satellites, international space stations. This could be super cool. Take Ilon Mask and his Tesla in space, it is reaching out of our planet. These are people not limited by some local events. Such projects, not necessarily successful, motivate other people to do something.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
This is again about the same thing. The recipe is quite simple, consciousness from the very beginning when you approach a project not knowing yet whether it will suit you or not. If I may use such a word – delvability, how deep you get into the project. This relates directly to production. And responsibility for the result, responsibility for the people who will use it. In our area you come, you do the project and it either ceases its existence or you never come back to that location. But people will go on living with it. These three steps will let you do something comprehensible by other people.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
As I said, there are no such people. I am more on the artistic practices side. There are several artists I do like. I would not say that they are icons for me, just as you grow you follow one or another. There are some things totally incomprehensible today, but tomorrow you will discover this author anew. There are certain works and projects which as good wine need time to become good. That I think a genius is all about – an ability to look forward and create something that will be actual for a long time. I don’t even know some designers by names, I know the products.
What is your biggest design work?
There are good TV Shows about design, for instance, Design Geniuses or Abstract: The Art Of Design. 2 seasons are already released and there are very interesting architects and designers. I am always surprised that foreign specialists of these professions are older. I think that relates to continuity and taste learned through generations. Our political situation here in Russia is slightly different, and the generation gap is significant. I would not point out somebody individually, there are very serious schools and you try to follow the whole variety of them. I am always impressed by Japanese engravings, Japanese culture and Japanese design. Sometimes it is even psychedelic. But that gives them authenticity.
Who is your favourite designer?
Currently we plan a major festival in a public art format dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II. This is a very tragic topic for many people. This is the project of the heritage of this day for new generations. We try to show what this date means from the point of view of modern generations without touching the war theme but talking about culture, life continuity. Very deep meanings are the heritage of this project. This project will be implemented in three stages. The second stage will be international in the format of Murrell Fest. The third stage will be a land art festival. On each level we interact with totally different groups of people and we expect maximum involvement. On the third stage people will know what to expect, and we will produce eco-sculptures to be installed in town. They will be involved in the creation process; people will be authors of these works. These are the projects we target involving the community and we solve several tasks simultaneously. Our task as an art embassy is to find these connections between different groups and provide the best conditions for everybody. The city has its own tasks, its inhabitants have other ones, and the target groups have the third group of tasks. Sponsors’ involvement should be most delicate without literal promotion and pushy attitude.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
The best projects are festival programs and interaction with large number of people because the main quality criteria is changing people’s thinking, and I do not mean participants only. It is great when you can bring a lot of international participants. This includes very intense communication for a week or two. What changes in people is their understanding of the scale and the fact that their initiative can change their cities. This is the idea we try to promote within such big projects. It looks like when you come from a small town, nobody notices you, but in fact if you have a good idea (although maybe you cannot present it properly) you need to find people who will help you to carry your message. Communication is a very important component. Changing of thinking takes place. Most prominent names, as I see, come from the small towns lacking the prosperity of world capitals. And only then, when you reach a certain level you get an opportunity to travel, to communicate with other people. This is a very serious push you can get.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
Difficult to say, because currently I do what I want to do. Nobody says: you are a designer and do design only. I do my own projects and I have absolute freedom to do whatever I want to do. I am interested in development of environmental projects, projects for smaller groups or for groups of disabled people, more socially oriented projects, organize tours, do design of eco-clothing. These projects are already in place and I do them. They can be called designer’s work but also a sociologist’s work. Works of a citizen with initiative and creative approach to any problem, who offers a solution. It is not enough to criticize; you have to offer something. If you have designer skills, excellent, you can also be a great communicator or manager and create other projects not related to design. Travel is one of the most needed elements. Remote access via Internet does not provide with an understanding of what is going on. Travel is also part of work. You absorb aesthetics of other cities and other countries of the world. This is some kind of a permanent social study. You go deeper into urbanistic of other cities. You try to remember some solutions, and it is a very strong push. These are related professions that you have to be involved in.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
Design is a process in the first place, not a result. When people say, hey, that’s a cool design, looking at something. It seems to me that they talk about the process itself, how designer approached his task and solved it. This is some kind of modification. Designs may vary for the same thing or product; design might be totally different. Essentially, it is a process of modifying a thing. For instance, we can talk about bicycles. There were times when bicycles had a big front wheel and a smaller back one. There are monocycles, there are classic bicycles, road bicycles, tandems etc. You can unite all these under one category, but they are different, targeted for different audiences and different functions. Design is an application tool which modifies something in process.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
First thing is self-criticism. This is an everlasting mental process. It obviously depends on external factors: what is your mood, where are you, what influences you at the moment. Changing locations can have a great influence. And the second thing, equally important, are people around you. They affect you a lot as personality, and your vision of the world changes dramatically. Family, relatives, friends are those people who influence you in the first place. As sociologists and psychologists say, 50% of a person’s views depends on internal factors, 25% - on people around him and 25% - on the way he was brought up. If you summarize people around you and your upbringing, you get 50%.

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