Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Ali Alfaifi ("AA") 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?

AA : For me It all started as a hobby in the early beginnings. I used to make short films and enjoy the editing phase of the process. Then slowly got into VFX and that what introduced me to motion design. At the time there was no proper education in my country for this field and it’s still weak to the moment, so I took it upon myself to learn and develop as a motion designer. It involved many online courses and too many hours of practice. In fact, education and learning in this field never stops, so I’m still learning, and I will continue to.

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

AA : Design is a way of expression, a way of saying! When you have something to say, and a way of saying it, then you’ll be motivated. I love the idea that I have the mean to get my idea across by making motion design video weather it’s for an advertisement or for a cause.

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

AA : Both I guess, because when it’s a passion, you’re choosing it and being forced at the same time. In this case My choice led me to changing my whole career to doing exactly what I love every day.

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

AA : I manly do 2D motion design in the advertising industry. Now I’m taking baby steps towards 3D motion design that is more in the film industry rather than the advertising industry.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

AA : Find your passion and keep practicing.

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

AA : They say, “devil is the details”, great designer will always pay attention to details and never skip them just because no one will notice. Second, great designer will find a way of connecting his design to culture, the audience culture that he is talking to.

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

AA : To begin with, design is a matter of taste, if it's appealing to the eye, we judge it as a good design. But then we have to look deeper to what was the concept of it, how was it executed, and what problems did it solve. Taking these in consideration help us make a better judgment whether it’s a good design or not.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

AA : As I mentioned I’m slowly moving towards 3D motion design in the film industry. My goal is to have the chance to participate in designing the main title design for one of the biggest shows worldwide.

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

AA : I try to touch all the senses of the viewer of my work. I take care of the sound effects as much as I’m doing with the actual visual work.

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

AA : In both 2D and 3D motion design I admire so many people and so many studios as well. To name a few, Emanuele Colombo, Andrew Cramer, Sarah Beth, Handle and studios like Elastic, Oddfellows, Man vs Machin and the list goes on.

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

AA : From my experience, you won’t usually have the time since client work will take all the time. One of the best ways of improving your skills is by doing personal projects. Personal projects give you the freedom to experiment new techniques and styles in the world of motion design and animation that would eventually improve your work.

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

AA : If I hadn’t switch career to advertisement to motion design as my day job, I would’ve continued my previous job as a plane technician.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

AA : Everything around us and everything we use and everything we have was designed and then made. The houses we live in, the cars we drive and the technology we use were all there because they were designed. Design makes life easier and more beautiful. Life is about creation, and creation is done through design.

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

AA : Thanks to all the great people in the internet who took it upon themselves to make great online courses and tutorials that helped me get started. Thanks to my great family that supported every decision I made to make it through. Thanks to the great agency that I’m working in for giving me the opportunity to switch career and pursue my passion.

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

AA : Design in general, and motion design in specific is relatively new in my country. There were no proper source of education and information until recently. Now universities have programs for these fields and the internet Arabic content is expanding even though we still need to develop it even more so future artists could learn and flourish.

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

AA : My ultimate goal is to work on feature films and TV shows in the motion design part and play a major role in the development of this industry in my country.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

AA : It affects every level of it, the way cities are designed, the way products are experienced, the art museum we enjoy and even the tools and software we use every day affect how we behave and how we interact. Better design will lead to better society.

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

AA : For the last 3 to 4 months I’ve been building an advanced online course that aims to help future motion designers to develop faster and be ready for the market. I’m hoping that could help as many as I could.

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

AA : Specifically speaking about my country, I want to see the film and animation industry compete with the rest of the world. Design and films go hand in hand and seeing them develop and compete in global event is one of my true wishes.

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

AA : Working in a motion design project is a mix of production and design, and it always depend on what type of motion design project it is. For a typical one-minute video, I go through many steps that include concept, script, storyboard, styleframes, VO recording, animation and final edit. It would approximately take 7 to 15 days.

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

AA : The first step after understanding the brief will be RESEARCH. And by research, I mean looking for all the information related to the project, problem that you’re solving, the design direction that better fits the project etc.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

AA : We’re all designers, you just have to find your area of design.

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

AA : Kind of like the chicken and egg relationship, right?! I think design sets the trends, and then trends set the designs until some design sets another trend.

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

AA : In my field, technology has a big role where they allow us to express and produce design.

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

AA : After Effects, Illustrator, Premier Pro, Audition and currently getting into C4D.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

AA : After getting emotional about how great humans are in coming up with such great ideas, I start thinking and wondering about what the story behind this design was! Not matter how great the design is, the story behind it is always greater and teach a lesson.

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

AA : I used to work alone for many years and it still has its won benefits, but after working with my great team in UBRAND I sow the real benefit of the teamwork. I could easily say that my motion team at UBRAND is the ideal partner.

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

AA : Good clients who understand design and know what they want were the ones who influence my design. I always try my best to keep such clients and make sure they’re satisfied.

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

AA : The journey of learning is never finished, and the journey of practice is never done. Get inspire by things outside of your field, take chances and keep practicing.

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

AA : I’ve always liked the color Brown, and everything related to it like woods and leather. As far as places, recently I visited Zermatt Switzerland and fell in love with it. Winter and Spring are the best, I’m sure because of the hot weather in my country. As far as brands, and because I discovered it by chance and also, I like leather, my favorite brand is the Italian Benheart.

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