Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Katrina Stevens ("KS") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

KS : My mother is an artist so I grew up surrounded by art. I used to draw alongside her when I was a child and this need to be creative flowed over to my adult life. When school ended I went to study Graphic Design at University of Canberra to obtain my Bachelors Degree. Whilst at University, I had an amazing opportunity to study Graphic Design at IED (Instituto Europeo di Design) for 6 weeks. This advanced Graphic Design course consisted of learning typography, layout for print and digital and photography.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

KS : I have a need to always be creative and simply cannot see myself doing anything else.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

KS : When it was time to choose a course to enrol in at University, Graphic Design was the only one that stood out to me so I decided to give it a go. I really wasn’t interested in studying a subject that didn’t allow me to be creative. 

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

KS : My main focus is creating brand identities and re-designing old ones. Taking an old, outdated brand and turning it into something fresh is very satisfying to me. In the future, I’d love to switch my focus to UI and UX design. It involves a more methodical approach which I thoroughly enjoy.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

KS : A good designer is someone that can create a concept that is visually appealing on the surface. A great designer is someone who can give that concept meaning. 

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

KS : As I mentioned above, really good design is design that has meaning - it is more than a pretty picture. Good design is design that makes me think. 

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

KS : Good ideas!

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

KS : Other designers inspire me but not to the same level as music. There’s something about music that is directly linked to my ability to create good work. Not really sure what I would do without it. 

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

KS : It is the design that won me the A’Design Award, logo for MAAC (Music Against Animal Cruelty). I’m particularly proud of this concept as it encapsulates everything that I hold dear as a designer - it's clean, minimalistic with a solid idea.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

KS : Lots of research and brainstorming! Brainstorm until you can’t anymore. I guarantee that the idea will be there, you just have to pluck it out.

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

KS : To be honest, I don’t know. I have tried other professions/career paths and none have sparked as much interest and motivation as graphic design. I don’t think not becoming a designer was ever an option for me.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

KS : My biggest supporter was one of my old bosses, Julian Melhuish. He is an award winning designer himself and has taught me an invaluable amount of information. 
My University also played a big role. My tutors preferred practice over theory which I believe has helped prepare me for the real world. Once I started working as a professional designer I learned a lot from my senior colleagues.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

KS : Too many obstacles to count. But as cheesy as it sounds, overcoming those obstacles is how you become successful.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

KS : However they see fit. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

KS : I am currently working on a brand identity for a new online business. This involves creating the logo, all their packaging, and digital content. Unfortunately I cannot say more than this.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

KS : To be able to hire a small team of designers to work alongside me and start my own Graphic Design studio.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

KS : As mentioned above, I am currently working on a brand identity for a new online business. This one in particular excites me because the business idea is something that I am very passionate about.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

KS : A couple of years ago I worked on a project with my team at Melhuish & Co which involved re-branding a big corporation. The client chose my design concept and it was surreal to see it printed on all of their company collateral.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

KS : I find our profession to be under-appreciated. Many years of study and experience go into being able to create good design and I'd like this to be reflected in our wages. I'd also like to see an end to graphic designers lowering their standards in order to get paid. I understand how important money is but charging $10 for a logo not only hurts yourself but the industry as a whole. It also lowers client expectations and prevents good designers from being hired/paid what they deserve.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

KS : This depends entirely on the project. Sometimes it only took me a day to come up with the idea plus another day or two for execution. But then I’ve also had projects which have taken months to finish. Those are usually ones for big clients - such as corporations and government.

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

KS : I like to start working on the idea first - at this stage I will only use pen and paper. Once I’ve come up with a solid concept, that’s when I move to the computer.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

KS : Less is more!

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

KS : Trends set design.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

KS : Technology is there to help me execute an already developed idea. I never use it at the beginning of a project.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

KS : I use the Adobe Creative Suite and the Apple Pencil with my iPad. The software is installed on both devices therefore it is easy to switch between the two.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

KS : I do believe in co-design wholeheartedly. My ideal partner is someone who shares the same design philosophy.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

KS : My old boss, Julian Melhuish. No one else has taught me as much as he has.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

KS : Practice, practice and more practice. I also like to re-brand existing logos in my head to see if I’m able to come up with a better idea. I like to do this while I’m driving.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

KS : Favourite colour: Pink
 Food: Anything Ukrainian 
Season: Spring
 Thing: Music 
Brand: Too many to choose from.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

KS : As a freelance designer, I tend to spend a lot of time at home which isn’t healthy. So what helps motivate me are walks around my neighbourhood. Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration and it's a great way to clear your head. The other thing that motivates me is music - I cannot create without it.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

KS : It wasn’t. I didn’t even know this profession existed. It wasn’t until I moved to Australia that I started to realise what it was and what I was capable of.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

KS : Judging by the way our world leaders are handling the climate crisis, we’ll probably be under water or on fire. This is an issue that I’m deeply passionate about and it breaks my heart knowing how little our governments are doing to tackle this issue - especially here in Australia. 

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

KS : I’m also a DJ.


Music Against Animal Cruelty (MAAC) Logo

Music Against Animal Cruelty (MAAC) Logo by Katrina Stevens

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