Today, we are joined by Ivorin Vrkas, he is a Graphic Designer. You can view his portfolio here.

  • Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!

I think it came about in that archetypal, bored-adolescent-doodling, kind of way. I was enrolled in a high school with a strong emphasis on maths and computer science which lent itself to a healthy amount of rebellious disinterest, channeled through class-substituting scribbles. And it continued on through my choice of university and my interest in graphic design as a more eclectic, borderless discipline.

  • Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?

In my humble opinion, there are at least two distinct spheres of every creatives’ modus operandi: the technical, and the cognitive.
I have acquired the technical knowledge and prowess through the years of clicking through Adobe’s software, drawing, cutting, inking, coloring and doing all the other actions one associates with being “creative”, all the while shaping, and correcting my techniques according to a mash of references and guides ranging from contemporary magazine articles and seminal design-books to simple online tutorials.
The cognitive is, of course, a bit harder to explain. In a nutshell, I think I have shaped my style of thought (let’s call it that) on the basis of an analytical mind, molded through the exploration and research into a history and world of visual communication to interface with a growing mental base of knowledge (increasingly inclined towards the creative and artistic) in creating form and function.

  • What does your creative process look like?

I will tell you what I would like it to look like, even though, with temporal and financial constrains to provide hindrance, this is not often the case. The ideal process would provide ample time and resources to start off with a period of research into the topic. Socio-cultural, ecological, psychological and other important factors would be explored and a definite context for the creation and implementation of the project would be defined. Depending on the type of project, references or other visual research would be collected. An internal brief would be devised to provide forward guidance and fallback options. If necessary, a team of collaborators would be formed to assure all elements to be produced can be created with a very high level of quality. The production process itself would depend on the type of project, but would, in general contain a few levels of refinement and, ideally, some manner of field-testing. Both the production and implementation would be done with the concept of sustainability as an important factor. All elements of the process would be well documented and a quality presentation of both the process and the final product would be the epilogue. I believe this is not unattainable, and comes with a dedication to quality practice and nurtured relations with members of your network.

  • Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?

Definitely, here is a list of books (not sure about the programs and media choices, it’s really mostly Adobe for me):

1.  Meggs’ History of Graphic Design – Phillip B. Meggs
2.  Graphic Design: A New History – Stephen J. Eskilson (alternative to Meggs)
3.  Universal Principles of Design – William Lidwell, Kristina Holden, Jill Butler
4.  How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul – Adrian Shaughnessy (Read this –> know how to be a functioning
5.  Grid Systems in Graphic Design – Josef Muller-Brockmann
6.  The Visual Display of Quantitative Information – Edward Tufte
7.  The Elements of Typographic Style – Robert Bringhurst (typographic bible)
8.  Logo – Michael Evamy
9.  Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication – Maggie Macnab
10. Type: A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles – Jan Tholenaar, Cees De Jong
11. The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color – Johannes Itten
12. A Smile in the Mind – Baryl McAlhone, David Stuart
13. Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far – Stephan Sagmeister
14. The Art of Looking Sideways – Alan Fletcher

  • Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?

Warm light and wood. I feel the best surrounded by a lot of light and wooden furniture and architecture. In me, it promotes a generally positive attitude and tones down on stress and anxiety. Plants and water also facilitate this. I suppose the ideal place and surroundings for me to work in would be a lake-side wooden cottage with a lot of natural light. A wish for now.

  • What are some common mistakes which identity designers make?

The single largest mistake, if you can call it a mistake, is designing identities without a deep understanding of type. One thing I would suggest to every designer who would like to improve his work – read The Elements of Typographic Style by R. Bringhurst, become familiar with the context and process of type design (micro and macro) and you will suddenly have a much clearer and subtler palette of creative options and tools to work with, and your need for embellishment will subside greatly.

  • Can you detail the identity design process and how long this usually takes?

It usually takes much less than it should. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to create an identity from scratch that will not need to evolve and grow around the specifics of the entity for which it is devised. This is a process that takes time, educated revisions and patience. A small, simple identity for a well defined type of  “brand” (i.e. fashion brand selling one type of product) can be created in one to two months. A large project, dealing with a complex socio-cultural context and a large number of product “connotations” could start of with a basic identity, to be tweaked and developed, after a few months. Yet, it can hardly arrive at a sustainable set of standards without several more months of dedication.

  • What are common challenges which identity designers encounter?

  • Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?

It really depends. There are a number of articles circulating on the web that deal with the customs of the “most creative people” that suggest using your morning hours and creating a dependable routine help to focus oneself and create better work. I find that I agree with this, but have had trouble preserving this behavior due to working with people in a global timezone with differing working hours. I still believe that, as I work from a freelance model towards a more studio-based model, this will slowly start to change.

  • What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?

To me, as a national of a country experiencing a declining economy and high levels of corruption, this is a life-saving global development. Without tools like creative and social networks (i.e. Behance), the rise of cloud software and the streamlining of the creative process through the myriad of small lubricating utilities and developments I am certain I would not be able to create the type of quality work I currently do.

  • What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?

I believe there are agencies that are a great place to work, with capable superiors and a good work/life ratio. Unfortunately, they are not common. While I will not sport the life of a freelancer for ever, for a young creative, I believe it is the better option – one that provides mobility and a much easier path to respectability and recognition.

  • How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?

Easy, any self-inititated project with sufficient funds to produce the type of work ideal for the achievement of the project goals. Recently, a few of my colleagues and Istarted a flood-relief project called Balkan Floods that exchanges silkscreened T-shirts, printed with motifs representative of the flooded regions, for donations. The donations are given away to the families most in need, to which we connect through a recently published sister-project, developed by Mario Janković, called The Balkan Floods project is only the first to be created through our newly formed initative (, which will be developing a free online platform for the creation and implementation of cause campaigns.