Interview with Chris Slabber

Winner of Photography Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Chris Slabber shares insights


Interview with Chris Slabber at Friday 21st of October 2016:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
CS : I was always into the arts from a young age and had fine art lessons through school and eventually went on to study Graphic Design at Cape Technicon, Cape Town, South Africa. This was when I discovered digital art. Immediately my mind opened up and I have been a student ever since.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
CS : I think its something you’re born with. I wake up in the morning with only one thing in mind and that is inspire others as well as myself and in the process I grow as a person and an artist.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
CS : I think design chose me. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
CS : I always enjoy anything where there is an element of fantasy or surrealism involved. I think thats why I enjoy creating posters for movies ( especially Sci-Fi) as well as album art. These kind of themes aren’t always seen so much in the more commercial jobs, but I do enjoy working on ad campaigns that require some unusual approaches.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
CS : I think firstly to keep practicing and to make a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are the best way to learn. Then also they shouldn’t try to be someone else, they should develop their own style. And lastly I’d say that every designer needs to be honest with him/herself in order to produce the best work possible.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
CS : I would say to refine a design. You shouldn’t just settle for the first draft. You should explore as many possibilities in order to make the best of each concept. Another thing would be to remember that its the client’s money, so be respectful and you will earn the client’s trust, which will in turn give you the freedom you want.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
CS : As Mentioned before, explore as many avenues as possible for the design concept. Its game of trail and error and the little details that no one cares about. Its what you never see that makes the difference.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
CS : Good design just makes more sense. People are stimulated visually, so you can determine their behaviour by what you allow them to see. Good design can make it fun for children to learn. Good design can save lives, but most important, good design can change the world.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
CS : I would love to design for someone like M83 (french musician). His music is very atmospheric and dream-like, which would complement my style a lot I would imagine.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
CS : Its hard to say, but I wouldn’t mind creating artwork for someone like Nike or some other kind of sports brand that has a bit of an alternative edge to it. Or maybe even get into doing work for a movie production studio such as Universal.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
CS : Honesty. Don’t try to kid yourself. Always be honest when you know you can do better and don’t be afraid to accept defeat.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
CS : There are so many out there, but I’m still mostly inspired by the grand masters such as Da Vinci, M.C. Escher, and Renbrant to name a few. I love going back to their readings and seeing how they studied a certain subject to fully understand it form and function.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
CS : I wouldn’t say I have favourite designs. I’d rather say that I get inspired by good design.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
CS : This is also something i don’t really know, because every design is its own entity. I feel thatt one you say a certain design is your best, you will always try to better that point in your career instead of exploring your creativity.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
CS : Stay humble and accept defeat when you have too. Its those everyday life lessons that shapes your mind and soul.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
CS : Musician

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
CS : Design is a visual language. Its an abstract concept that is understood world wide.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
CS : My friends have always been very encouraging, but my parents really supported me in the journey of finding my design voice and to trust my instincts.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
CS : To follow my heart through thick and thin.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
CS : I’d say being able to get recognised as a freelance artist in order to land the bigger design contracts.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
CS : Professionally. Make effort to gain the attention you want from the clients you want.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
CS : Currently I’m working on my biggest solo exhibition, which will be happening in February 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will be a mix of hand drawn illustrations, etchings, and digital art. The exhibition is already set to tour for 6 months after the initial installation.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
CS : To always be growing as a creative.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
CS : Honest hard work.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
CS : By being able to inspire people to become better people. The power of good design should never be underestimated.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
CS : My solo exhibition for 2017

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
CS : I’d say the ones where the client trusts you and gives you the freedom in order to be as creative as possible.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
CS : To be less competitive and more supporting.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
CS : To a way more global mind set. I think that more international collaborations will be happening which will see a good mixture of different styles from different corners of the world.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
CS : It all depends on the brief.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
CS : Research

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
CS : To stay as humble as possible.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
CS : I think its a balance of the 2.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
CS : If its the right tool for the job, I will use it.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
CS : Camera, Macbook pro, Adobe suite, pen and paper.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
CS : It all comes down to what you’re working on, but its using these elements to enhance the composition of a project in order to make the message as strong as possible.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
CS : Can we pay you lots of money to make more - haha!

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
CS : I’d like to study it to understand the process behind it.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
CS : I’d say someone that has a skill set that could compliment mine.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
CS : Anyone who complimented my work in the past has an impact on my work, because they are the encouraging force to help me strive to create more and better work.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
CS : M.C. Escher biography and the diaries of Leonardo Da Vinci.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
CS : Practise and staying curious.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
CS : Leonardo da Vinci, M.C. Escher, Elon Musk, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Kevin Smith.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
CS : I just see it as part of my job. I don’t really feel famous.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
CS : Teal, Still Bay South Africa (como is a very close 2nd), Seafood, Summer, Drumkit, Apple

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
CS : I’d have to say when I faked it to make it in my first job as a photo manipulator. I was asked if I am good at it, which I wasn’t at the time, and I kind of lied. I eventually got the job and ended up having to do so many tutorial through the night in order to start my first big photo manipulation job. Needless to say I learned how to swim very quickly.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
CS : To feel that sense of inspiration and satisfaction at the same time.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
CS : Well it was obvious that I would be part of the creative world for sure.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
CS : Time travel - I hope!

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
CS : I’m a friendly, down to earth person. I’m always open to give advice when I’m able to and I’m always open to the idea of collaborating on a project. I ways say, you won’t know until you ask.