Krzysztof Domaradzki is a bright and accomplished designer who has worked with big names such as Volkswagen, Audi and others. With a vast amount of knowledge in the field of designing Krzysztof explains his views on the “perfect designer;” and also lists his heroes of design. This is a great interview on a very sharp designer, so lets get into it.
1. Welcome to Psdtuts+! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you’re from, and how you got started in the field.
Hello, my name is Krzysztof Domaradzki aka Kxx, and I’m the founder and creative director of studiokxx. I was born in Poznan Poland, where I now live and work together with Eliza Domaradzka, my wife and business partner.
I have graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts where I received a Master’s Degree in Drawing and Metal Techniques. Right after finishing my studies, I did some storyboards and illustration work as well as a very basic graphic design for an advertisement agency and that’s where I got my first experience with computers. However, I soon found out that working for such an agency was tantamount to being an anonymous cog in the wheel and was definitely not for me, so I went on to do freelance work for a while.
Nearly two years later I moved to creating website layouts and with that studiokxx came to be. That’s when I began to really love what I was doing and decided to completely devote myself to design. Every day was bringing new challenges and made me learn from them. And that’s how it stays to this day. I think that the best thing about the design field is the diversity it offers. It makes you evolve and doesn’t let you linger on the same lane for too long. It’s simply awesome.
2. You are an extremely well rounded designer with artwork in many categories, what would you say is your favorite style to design?
I definitely wouldn’t say that I am extremely well rounded but hell, it’s really nice to hear that. Thanks. Anyhow, as I have already mentioned, the thing I love most about doing the design is the opportunity to find and explore new approaches and styles. And that’s what I’m all about. But if I was to choose one style, I would have to say that the combination of the traditional and the digital is the most fulfilling one for me.
It gives me a chance to practice drawing on the one hand and to master my computer skills on the other. It also allows me to focus on details such as additional type or some other brand new effects that I discovered and combine them all into one piece. In the end, if it all works fine together, then I can easily say that I made my day.
3. You have opened up your own graphic design studio, tell us what exactly it takes to open one up, and also where you plan to take your studio in the future in terms of designing and clients.
Starting a business isn’t a difficult thing, really. Even though the process in Poland takes about a month! But as soon as you get an idea of a business and the company’s name, all you need is a computer and a website to promote it. The rest depends entirely on the amount of work you’ll put in the company’s growth. I am certain that in the long run it is the hard work that allows us to achieve our goals, nothing but real devotion is required.
Of course, having fun while doing it is also obligatory! The future is still a mystery to me, but I hope that the studio will keep on, expanding, i.e. it will keep on producing fresh and creative works. It would be really great to focus more on illustration and design and start working for big international clients. I hope that the future will allow me to do that and as soon as it does, I will definitely consider finding some help, since the amount of work is killing me already.
I can surely imagine my studio a few years from now as being a bunch of (maybe five) creative people devoted to design and doing crazy stuff in all sorts of media ranging from illustration, through web to design and motion… Fingers crossed!
4. Who would you say are your Heroes of designing? Which artists do you look up to when it comes to designing?
There are so many talented people out there that it is hard to name just a few… But I definitely admire guys from Non-Format. The first time I laid my eyes on their work was like a karate blow in the head – it’s everything I expect design to be: usable, clean, diverse and standing out.
A truly amazing approach and incredible skills, as well as the ability to play with the type are simply mind-blowing. But I wouldn’t like to miss the opportunity to name few other heroes, such as: GrandPeople, Loveworn, Serial Cut, Hellovon. And many others. Additionally, I would have to mention such artists as: Schiele, Bacon and Kiefer for sure. They all inspire me and allow me to learn from them and I thank them for that.
5. You have been very successful in attracting the right clientele to create ads for; From Volkswagen to Audi. How does a designer build a good client base?
I guess building a good client base is the hardest part… I believe that your success depends mostly on hard work and promotion skills, as I have mentioned earlier. But on the other hand, it is often simply a matter of luck, or the right time and the right people who help you out on your way.
I was fortunate enough to either find a few clients on my own with a huge help from my wife or it was them who found me surfing the internet. But the biggest projects made for huge clients were usually commissioned work, made for various interactive and advertising agencies. That is also how I work and it’s fine as long as no one intervenes beyond reason. I miss no opportunity to work on something big, as long as it gives me a chance to learn something, as it usually does.
6. Your “Knockout Graphic” illustration is simply amazing and extremely detailed. Please give us a look into the process of creating this stunning design.
Thank you, it’s really nice to hear that. The story is that Fabien Barral asked me to create a splash page for his design blog Graphic-Exchange. Since I had always been highly impressed by the amazing selection of works presented in the blog as well his own achievements, I decided to do it right away. Knockout Graphics was the first thing that popped into my head, when I started to look for an idea for a splash. I usually do a little sketching in order to see the composition and any other additional stuff that the project might require – it helps me to assess how long it will take – it is crucial since I am a person who has no time to spare.
The drawing is made with a pen. After being scanned, few modifications have to be made in order to make it look more pencil-like. Then it’s time for the computer to show what it was made for… I usually use many types of textures, photos and filters in order to gain the impression of rich colors and background. These are often barely visible layers, but I believe them to shape the very essence of the illustration, similarly to the process of working on a painting, where each single brush stroke has its deep meaning. At that point, the piece undergoes most changes until I have ascertained whether or not I am on the right track. The thing that is added last is the type ‘Knockout Graphics,’ made using the Illustrator and then pasted onto the Photoshop. A few more touches and we are done.
7. What skills do you think the “Perfect Designer” should have? And how close do you think you are to that level?
Hmm… can there be any? I believe that any attempt to achieve perfection is simply a wild goose chase, for perfection cannot be found in any creation. That is why pencils have erasers. Striving for excellence can, on the other hand, be definitely motivating… I guess that feeling the type and the right spaces between the letters, knowing the basics about the composition and colors is often more than enough to start working. Some things definitely help. I like the fact that I have been endowed with some ability to draw, for example.
My friends on the other hand do 3D, which can also be very useful. When you are a designer and you manage to create fresh and inspiring things which are not only recognized by your fellow designers, you have achieved something really big. We all learn all the time… How can we say we are perfect, if there is always so much to learn? How close am I to perfection? Hell, I wouldn’t I want to be to close, that’s for sure… Where would there be any fun in that?
8. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity at interviewing you, any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?
Be yourself, practice and work as hard as you can. Yet, try to have some fun while doing it. Nothing ever comes to those who sit and wait. Sometimes we simply need to take things in our hands and run the risk no matter how difficult it seems. Stay inspired. And last but not least, don’t ever let your work be more important than the ones who love you. It might all seem a cliché but it is absolutely true…
Thank you for the interview.