When working on logo design a large bulk of the process is working through a visual journey. This is part of the process that’s rarely shared, and is often surrounded in mystery, but a new book published by Counter Print has worked to address this by highlighting the rarely shown sketching and process behind the making of marks and logotypes… Process: Visual Journeys in Graphic Design, created by Jonas Banker and Ida Wessel, the founders of the award winning Swedish design agency, BankerWessel.
In this interview we discuss the new book, but also learn how Jonas and Ida founded their agency as a couple, as well as their process for working with clients on a logo design project.
Books & Resources Mentioned
- BankerWessel Website
- BankerWessel on Instagram
- Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries
- Designing thinking is bullshit
- Process: Visual Journeys in Graphic Design
BankerWessel Interview Transcription
Ian Paget: You formed your own agency together, BankerWessel. Can you share with us how that came to be? What was your background prior to starting the agency and how did it all begin?
Ida Wessel: Maybe I can start? I studied graphic design at RISD at Lake Parsons, in Stockholm, and prior to that I studied art history, and I think my defining moment when it comes to graphic design happened at RISD.
I took a summer course and that was kind of life changing. We got assignments to convert stories into basic shapes, and that was to practice the skill of thinking in symbols, and I found that to be super challenging and interesting. It made me think that there were more to graphic design than just met the eye. That was my initial meeting with graphic design.
Then I came back to Sweden, and I’m not an illustrator, like Jonas, so I sold everything with type all the time, so the logos I made just looked the same all the time. Usually with a dot involved and type. Then I met Jonas. Jonas changed his style constantly and then in a way that worked well for me to art direct him, and we started to work together. That’s kind of how it started.
Ian Paget: Jonas, do you want to share your side of the story?
Jonas Banker: I’m an illustrator. I’ve been going to school at university here in Stockholm, studying art and illustration, and had an exchange here in Los Angeles, where I studied mainly illustrations, but I have a tendency to be all over the map with my work, so when I started working with Ida it was really great just to have somebody who’s pointing out the direction and being able to trust her. It’s really good for me.
Ida Wessel: It was much more fun to work together.
Jonas Banker: Yeah.
Ida Wessel: Something happened when we started to work together because the illustration was a big thing to combine with graphic design. I think graphic design and illustration when it’s mixed gets really interesting.
Jonas Banker: And I think right from the start we had a lot of the work involved a lot of process, so our work has always circled around a lot of work, and a lot discussion, and a lot of process actually. I’ve collected all the different sketches that we’ve done over the years, so we had a quite vast collection of different work. Always been collecting.
Ian Paget: Did you guys start working together immediately after your studies? Or have you worked for other agencies?
Ida Wessel: I worked one year in London, with one of those dot com failures. But it was kind of cool to be in the core of that. So that was my first thing I did after school. Jonas, you worked for Sunday Times?
Jonas Banker: Yeah I worked for different magazines. This is about 20 years ago, working with different magazines, fashion magazines and newspapers.
Ian Paget: When you did make your mind up to start working together, how did you kick start things? I know when you have a job and you work for companies you’re working with a salary, but when you’re starting your own business you need your own clients. How did you go about starting things off in that sense?
Jonas Banker: In a way, since we’re married, and we live together, and have kids. We found out quite from the start that everything we do is kind of a sphere or a circle or something. Everything is combined. We wanted to find a way we could work and live together and do it the best possible way.
Ida Wessel: I think that’s a very important part of why we started to collaborate because we wanted the very, very equal relationship, not one of us having a career that was more important than the others, and I think that worked even if a lot of people ask us, “How can you work with your husband?” But I think it is been a very successfully collaboration in many ways. But I mean we didn’t have any money at the beginning, so I think the thing we did, that every commission we got we really put so much effort into. I don’t think we showed our portfolio really since 2005 or something, because one job sort of leads to the other. But it’s been a lot of hard work for a long time. It still is.
Ian Paget: It’s good to hear that you guys have been able to collaborate in that way because I know for a lot of people it can be hard to be working with your partner, especially when you need to spend a lot of time together. I know working with people there can be some friction on certain projects, so it’s nice to know that you guys have been able to work so well, and collaborate and create a business in the way you have done.
Jonas Banker: It also feels a bit necessary that you want to get as much as possible out of life. I want to spend my time with Ida and I need to have a good job and have fun at working. It’s combining everything is a way of having a good life, I think.
Ida Wessel: And also not being jealous of each other. I think when it comes to creative things sometimes you just feel that you can get kind of jealous sometimes of someones, perhaps, that they get more space, or attention, or things like that. This way we know that we’re working towards the same goal in a lot of ways, and I think that’s necessary to bring your whole self to things.
Jonas Banker: I think also, for me, how I like to work is that I really enjoy working, putting the time down to work, to draw, and to sit by the computer, and listen to music, and just working, and being fortunate enough to work with Ida as an art director. She takes a lot of the responsibility of dealing with customers, and telling me when an idea is good, when it’s worth working on. For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to work a lot because that’s the part I really, really enjoy.
Ian Paget: I’m curious to know with you two, you briefly went into it then, but who’s doing what in the business?
Ida Wessel: I’m the art director. I have a background in art history and typography. I’m the art director and the creative director, and we have three employees too, that’s designers at the office. My project is sort of the company to make it thrive and everyone’s got to be happy, and so on.
Jonas Banker: And also the vision of everything, I think. You do like to have a lot of work going on at the same time which makes me a bit stressed out but that’s really what… You make everything go forward, so you have this drive…
Ida Wessel: I’m the one that’s pushing everything forward and that can be hard sometimes, but it’s also very rewarding when you see people accomplish great things. Jonas, you’re the one that’s doing all the graphics, I mean, apart from the others that are pleased to. As a main designer, I think that’s…
Ian Paget: I would say that’s what’s made it work. That you’re not treading on each others toes. You have clearly defined roles and they’re separate, but you are collaborating and I think that’s how you guys have been successful, so I think for anyone that’s listening that does want to work with their partner in the way that you have done… I don’t know if you guys agree, but it sounds like that’s probably what’s been the main success is that you’ve got your own separate area that you can focus on but you are collaborating…
Ida Wessel: Yeah I think so.
Jonas Banker: I think that’s correct. I was working with one of my best friends before I started working with Ida, and he’s also an illustrator, and we made some rock video, and a bit of record sleeves, and it was like having two drummers in the same band and not anything else. It was just very, very difficult to get things off the ground, working with another illustrator, so teaming up with Ida was really…
Ida Wessel: But also that global, like Jonas said, about being global in your thinking. At home I’m taking care of all the economic stuff, and Jonas you’re taking care of the cleaning and the washing, and all those things. You have to see the whole picture, I think. Because you want to be happy 24/7, not just at work, or at home, or something like that, everything has to work.
Jonas Banker: But it’s not happy 24/7… We disagree a lot.
Ida Wessel: I wish.
Jonas Banker: I think we’ve learned how to handle situations when they arise, when we disagree on stuff, that we usually take a walk outside the office and just have a really, really intense discussion, because we know we have to solve whatever we’re arguing about. We can’t divorce because then everything is going to fall to pieces, so we have to solve it. So usually we solve the crisis that arise within twenty, thirty minutes or so…
Ida Wessel: And not in front of the people that work for us.
Jonas Banker: No.
Ida Wessel: But I mean, there’s a kind of special situation when I have an idea about something and Jonas has another idea, and we’re just, perhaps… Jonas you think you’ve found something that’s the solution to something and then I feel that I have to say that I don’t think this is going to work, and then you know that the evening will be kind of rough, and the dinner won’t be nice that night…
Jonas Banker: Yeah. It’s always a bit annoying when I feel like I’ve done it, this is it, this is solution we’re looking for, and I can see in Ida’s eyes that it’s not good, it’s not working for her. And I get a bit annoyed because I know I’m right, but in the back of my mind I know she’s right, so I know it’s going to take me a few hours, but then I get over it and I start working again…
Ian Paget: Yeah. To be honest, it sounds like a healthy way of doing things, and you guys have really worked out a way to work through those things in a good way. I guess it’s inevitable that when you are working and living with the same person that it will continue in the evening. But based on what you’ve said, it sounds like you’re working through things, and it’s allowing you both to push everything that your business is doing to a higher standard because of that friction.
Jonas Banker: Yeah. I think that we’ve learned that working is never easy, but it can be rewarding, so you’re always striving to find the better treasure or reward somewhere.
Ida Wessel: But I think that our kids are pretty bored with us. We’re just talking about graphic design all the time and pointing out logos and things that they’re not very impressed by. It’s complicated, but I think we’re working it through and like Jonas said, it’s not like we can divorce, we just have to move forward and I think that’s something that’s also good.
Ian Paget: I’m glad you both brought that up because it’s really interesting speaking to partners that are working together, and living together because I know that people listening might potentially be considering doing it or wondering how other people work. I like the transparency of you guys and you’ve found a way to make it work, even when you do have challenging situations.
Jonas Banker: Yeah. We’ve just learned by working together you have to be honest about everything to achieve good work, and to be able to continue working together you have to be honest about everything when it comes to work and your private life and who’s doing what and everything. That’s a big thing that keeps us working together.
Ian Paget: That’s really good.
I want to make sure that we spend some time talking through your book. You just released an new book with Counter Print, called “Process: Visual Journeys in Graphic Design“. I’ve got a copy of the book, and I love it. Could you tell us more about the book and how it came into existence?
Ida Wessel: I was intrigued when I realised how much work was behind the logos we made. We had saved, like Jonas said, all our sketches in Illustrator documents called “sketch one, two, three, thirty five” and all the way. We showed it sometimes, both to clients and to students, and we found out that people were very happy to appreciate that we showed these.
Jonas Banker: When we showed it to students, they tell us that they somehow learn a little bit more about making logos and working with graphic designers when they’re looking at not finished work. Looking at sketches somehow teaches people a bit more. When you’re being presented with a finished work, it’s a bit difficult to understand that the journey before it’s completed, and it’s difficult also to alter it, a finished work, but sketches, they have no real future, they can go either way so people really enjoy looking at sketches because they’re not really threaten by them, and they’re fun, they can be ugly and bad, but it’s quite liberating in a way.
Ian Paget: I know personally, I’ve always been more interested in the process side of things.
Jonas Banker: Yeah, me too.
Ian Paget: You always see the finished, polished logo design or brand identity and from some designers, when you’re young, you look and think “I can never be that good.”
I remember when I seen sketches from people like Michael Bierut, and I’m thinking “His sketches look like my sketches”, and it suddenly feels more accessible that you can do this, and I think you demonstrated it in the book that you put together, putting all of your sketches, and sharing thoughts on each direction, and showing the progression on how you’ve started with an initial brief and then explored different ideas.
I find it so much more inspiring than anything else, and there’s very few books, that I’ve seen anyway, that go through in a way that you have. I know there was a book that Unit Editions released with the sketch book work of Lance Wyman. They took his sketchbooks and put them into a book, and that’s a good example of how you can see that progression, and you’ve done that as well, but you’ve annotated it and I think that’s fantastic.
I think it will inspire a lot of people, because they’ll look through it and go “Yeah, I can do that too”.
Ida Wessel: I’m so happy hear that! Thank you so much.
It’s totally our intention with this book, that we wanted to show this thought process. I had the idea to layout the sketching process parallel with the thought process, that was something I asked… we got a grant to do that actually to try to combine the two, side by side, just to describe the creative process to others in a way, because usually creativity has a mystic thing around it sometimes. Like being struck by lightening, you get this sudden idea to sketch down on a napkin or something, and then it’s finished after a couple of alterations, but I felt like it’s really about a lot of hard work. A research into forms and shapes, and I wanted to show that in a book. That was a big challenge, after all it’s over 1400 sketches in this book, and also 1400 annotations… It was challenging I can say. But it’s also very, very authentic. It’s the authentic thought process, how we associate things, and so on.
Jonas Banker: We also talk a lot about that it’s important to show that doing a logo, working with the logotypes, that it’s a visually journey. Sometimes I can get the impression that you can talk about the theories behind coming up with an idea but it’s also very important to know that to create good stuff you have to visually work on the mark, and the logo, and to go over it a lot times. So creating something visually you have to do it by hand, you have to work on it, rework on it, and work on the theory at the same time. It’s, for me anyway, it’s very difficult to first come up with the theory on how something should look, you have to work on it a lot because if you have a good idea in your head it’s not certain that it works on paper so showing the visual work is very important as well, you have to do that journey.
Ian Paget: I noticed the way that books actually been put together… I don’t know how to describe it, but the pages… each page isn’t one single piece of paper like it would typically be. It’s kind of folded as well so that it feels like the book is like a continuous scroll, but it’s bound in a book. What’s the thinking behind that approach?
Ida Wessel: That is exactly what you said. That’s what we thought. We had those Illustrator documents… and that had to be translated into something in a book.
First of all, I thought it was like one, two, three, four, five, I was just thinking in a structuring them in a grid or something. To find… there was some kind of order to them but after a while I just realised that’s not the case in a process. It’s like you’re moving back and forth and it’s so much more dynamics involved. It’s a dynamic process.
I actually showed it, the first layout to Michael Bieruit at a conference because I wanted to impress him by the work and then I had this much more structured layout, and I was talking about having transparent paper with the annotations over them but I just realised I found myself flipping through the pages really fast after a while. I felt like this is boring, it looks the same all the time, that’s not how the process is. And he suggested, circle things, cross out things, things like that.
But then I came home to Sweden and we started to try to find this authentic flow. Also, like you said, we chosen this French fold binding that’s continuing from one page to the other because we didn’t want to create posters, like pages with posters. That was another challenge, just to try to show the flow and make it… that people understand what we’re trying to say and not being superficial or unauthentic. We really wanted to be authentic.
Jonas Banker: The sketches don’t really work by themselves since they are sketches and not real, finished work. They needed each other, and when we work on them it looks like the work of a mad person, the sketches are all over, and you try to reach for all the parts you like, and you twist them, and you turn them, so you have the energy when you look on the computer. We wanted to translate that to paper and to show that the energy that comes off when you try to find something.
Ian Paget: I have to say, I think you’ve done a really good job of that because when you flick through it, I really love that you’ve annotated it rather than it just be a collection of different ideas because you can, basically, follow along and see the thought process. I work in the same way. Sometimes you start working on one idea and another thing comes in and then you’re like “What if I take that bit from there?” It’s lots of back and forth. I think the way you’ve done it achieves that really nicely.
Jonas Banker: Thank you so much.
Ida Wessel: I also think getting older, in a way, it’s very efficient learning. That’s sort of what we want to show, that if you practice all the time and the older you get the more experience you got, you sort of have this image bank after a while and that’s what I think, Jonas, you juice a lot. You take, perhaps you find a shape in one project you that you can use in another project. To me, getting older is really important to show that the experience counts. I think that’s also one of the purpose, the purpose of this book.
Ian Paget: Because the topic of the book is about process, so far we’ve spoken primarily about the book, but I’d love to find out from you guys how you’re actually working from a process point of view. Not just the graphic design side of it, but the collaborating with the client at the beginning, creating a brief, and so on. Could you talk through how you work from a process point of view?
Jonas Banker: Well, we start meeting with clients. We of course have a meeting.
Ida Wessel: Usually, first of all, we try to get a feeling for the client and what they want. Also, what they want in comparison with what they think they want, because sometimes they come to us and they want something, or we can just see that there’s something not in sync here. To us it’s trying to find out, that the client is in sync with what they want.
We’re not working with big companies and I’m sure it’s very different when it comes to really big corporations, but we’re very personal when it comes to making logos. If you work with a client whose sort of a cliché, that sounds kind of horrible, but anyway, you just have to get deeper to find out who they really are because we really want to work with people that we like and you’re seeing their true self in front of you and not some kind of person that they’re trying to be. So I think we’re very personal when it comes to clients. But also, that’s intriguing, meeting another human being is an inspiring part of this job.
Jonas Banker: You really have to build who you’re dealing with, who this person is. Try to really, really understand them because a lot of customers or clients ask for boldness and big things when they’re really not. They want secure things, and being presented with something they recognise, so a lot of the time the clients really, really not knowing what they’re looking for. We tend to get quite personal, or become friends with our clients, which helps us a lot. But when it comes to making really good graphic design… you have to know them, become friends almost.
Ida Wessel: I don’t really like the word authority, I couldn’t make a pretty simple logo and just convince someone to buy into that. That would haunt me forever, I think. We really have to sell something that we really believe in, that we have made the client believe in too. That’s the way I think we work.
Ian Paget: How do you go about forming that brief in the beginning? I know you mentioned about getting to know the person. What are you doing to understand, talking specifically about logo design in this case, what are you doing to understand what they actually need?
Ida Wessel: We usually send a questionnaire to them, and also it can be sent out to the employees, and all that. Jonas, we usually don’t make them make a brief themselves, right?
Jonas Banker: We just ask them questions. How do they see the company, do they have any competitors out there. Just trying to ask them questions to get a full picture of them and the company.
Then I really try to be very, very free when it comes to sketching. I try to write down single words, come up with words that I associate with a company maybe, or what they’re working or striving for, and see if these words give me some kind of direction of where to go. Actually combine words that might look interesting together and usually when I have these words and I kind of find them true to the answers from the questionnaire, it kind of makes some kind of picture of something, it could be almost that ice stick in the beginning, abstract.
I try to be like Usain Bolt or something. I want to be totally relaxed when I work, to have fun. In the beginning the work is quite abstract and very, very enjoyable so I won’t tighten up, I need to be loose and free, and very, very easy in the beginning so I can make a lot sketches, that we print them, then we discuss which way we should go.
Ida Wessel: But I think in the beginning of our career we thought we were more like experts than now. Now, I really think that the people that are running the company, or working in the company, they’re the experts at their company, of course. It’s not like we’re good at translating things into graphics, but we really need the client to tell us more about the company because sometimes we just feel like designers become experts at everything, but we’ve had a couple of cases too that we had to redo other peoples designs just because they had this hit and run thing that leaves the client scared, in a way.
They had this big company redesigning something and then they’re out of there, and I think that’s a problem. I wouldn’t say that we know exactly how something is done for that company. We really need to discuss things with the client, but we also need open minded clients to be inspired ourselves, to make things that we think looks new.
Ian Paget: How do you avoid these situations where the client could potentially be art directing what you’re doing when you are working in that way? I’ve spoken to lots of different designers and there are processes like the one concept approach where you literally create one solution, and like you said, hit and run. If you are putting different ideas together and sharing… I’m going to make some assumptions here, I’m assuming that you’re sharing rough mock ups or sketches with the client? How many are you sharing and, what are you doing to avoid the risk of the client potentially art directing you in what could be the wrong direction?
Ida Wessel: We have a first stage where we show them our first initial ideas and then we show some, or idea. We usually just show them one logo because that sort of keeps our own integrity but then we show them how we got there. After that, we’re not finalising things too much, we’re more showing them the first ideas, but as a logo, it’s not just in print or anything… Then we sort of see how they react and we go from there. They usually make things look better too.
When we did the Fotografiska logo, when they saw our first idea, and it didn’t really look like the star we ended up with, they were all quiet. After a couple of weeks they came back to us and they wanted us to continue working on it and we did and it became much better. But then I think they trusted us, they could see that we wanted to reach somewhere…
Jonas Banker: Because we, just you just said, we always show the client one solution but we show them the process of getting there and that makes them feel safe, and we tell them why we went in this direction and not that direction. I don’t think we have experienced a situation where the client becomes the art director. It sometimes, after the first showing of our solution, they have their own ideas or maybe they like some parts of it or not other parts, then we rework them. We always take that into consideration, that first we have one showing of a logo and then we have the feedback and then we kind of, if needed, rework the logo. That’s usually where we end up.
Ian Paget: I think with what you are doing, because you are showing one, but showing the progression, that’s why you’re avoiding that situation where the client art directs because you’ve explained the full process, how you got to here, how you go to there, and you’re convincing the client that you’ve properly thought about everything, you’ve understood the problem that you’re trying to solve and you’ve presented a very well thought out potential solution that could be the final thing, but you’ve still got time to work on it.
I think because you’re working in that way, and because you’re giving the opportunity for the client to get involved, it’s more of a collaboration rather than them telling you what to do and I think because you are working in that way that’s why you’re not having that problem.
Jonas Banker: No. I think you’re right.
Ida Wessel: Yeah, because if we come up with a solution that the client really think is far off what they were expecting then sometimes it feel like okay maybe we understood a lot of things wrong in the beginning of the process and then perhaps we have to go back and okay… we’re too far away from each other and we have to redo things. We’re not afraid of redoing things, it’s not like we tried in the business model that we have, we always need space and margins to redo things. Also, actually saying no to clients if we feel like we’re too far away from each other. Or maybe we feel that they’re not authentic to what they actually want. We’ve actually said no a couple of times. We just feel that we’re too far away from each other. Because that’s a horrible situation when the client becomes the art director. It’s so uninspiring.
Jonas Banker: Yeah, it doesn’t work.
Ida Wessel: I think we put a lot of effort into not getting into that situation. That’s also the part we’re trying to find out in the beginning who you are dealing with because sometimes there are people that’s in the background that really loves to come forward in the end of a process, and because that’s kind of powerful to come in the end of the process and say “I don’t like this, and I think this looks this or that”. You have to harness these people in the beginning of the process and find them to be able to get where you want. That’s a big part of our job, I think, to know people.
Ian Paget: Yeah, exactly. When you say you explain how you go to the final solution, how are you going about presenting the process to the client?
Jonas Banker: We print out the different sketches and make it almost into a cartoon or a storyboard, or something, and sometimes it can be quite entertaining and fun. It’s more or less like a storyboard. We tell them first this idea came up and we tried to walk down that path but it didn’t really work so we started off working again, which lead us to here and there. You kind of take the client by the hand, walk down a path.
Ida Wessel: Also showing them, that maybe, you’ve tried out the solutions that they thought they had or their neighbour had or someone else, everyone’s always got an opinion about how something should look. But it’s sort of overpowering them with… I really working with architects because they usually think they’re very good at making graphic design and then you sort of have to top them… Make something they couldn’t make themselves, and that’s also a way to impress, trying to impress by we’ve tried this, this, this, this. We’ve got the skill, it’s more about finding the right solution and that’s a collaborative journey to end up with something everyone is going to be very proud of.
Ian Paget: Do you talk through the story and then show the one logo you came to? Is that how it works? You’re taking them through a journey?
Jonas Banker: Yeah, pretty much.
Ian Paget: So in person, just to paint the picture, when you say you’re printing them out, are you putting them all around the wall?
Jonas Banker: No, it’s printed paper from the copying machine.
Ian Paget: Okay.
Jonas Banker: Keeping it simple and not too much… you know, Including a band or the music or whatever… just being plain and simple and easy. We have a really bad printer as well, which kind of helps to lower everything a bit, taking the expectations away a bit, not to scare them too much.
I’ve read somewhere when people are being presented a new logo, 100% of the people dislike them, the logos. I think as people we’re quite, we don’t think to be, but we’re afraid of new things and new images scares us a bit so you need to be gentle, and to show the clients it’s fun, it’s easy and we can rework this. You don’t have to say yes or no, you don’t have to be afraid.
Ida Wessel: I also think showing the process and the sketches is sort of charging the final logo with its own story, if you know what I mean? It’s all about, I’m very fascinated about how logos can be charged with energy, or some of the logos we’ve made I see people being so proud of. I mean the logo for the feminist party in Sweden, and when I see it, when all these people being so proud of it, the power of logos is quite amazing.
Ian Paget: I think in terms of what you’ve said then, a logo becomes almost like a flag. I find flags fascinating because they become objects that you don’t judge how they look. You just want wear one because of what it represents and what’s attached to it and what’s the associated with it.
I think that if people are excited about what the business represents, and you are using that logo, or what could be a logo, in combination with those thoughts, it fills up with all that meaning and that’s why people start to become proud of it, and I think because of the way you guys are doing this, mixing story in with it and sharing all of that with the client… the thought process, I totally understand why they would be very proud of what you guys have done and I think also because you are involving the client they have a sense of ownership as well, it gives them even more of a reason to feel very proud of what you and they’ve done together.
Jonas Banker: I think that it’s very important to show the client that what you come up with, the solution, you present to them is not a coincidence. Logos look very simple. If it’s done well it looks like it came together by itself almost, like it just fell. When you show the process and all the sketches, it’s an evidence of the work and thought process and that makes the client feel safe and secure that you’ve really worked for them. It’s not just a quick easy job.
Ida Wessel: I think there’s a tendency now, I may be wrong, but logos are becoming just typographic. It’s quite a big difference to make a symbol for a company instead of just type something, the company’s name. It’s a big difference between those two things. It’s a really hard thing and it’s a skill to sum up a company in one image that’s going to represent them.
In a way, I’ve been afraid that design companies will become cleaning companies. Because I see so many examples of companies, design companies, studios, just cleaning up or simplifying brands.
I think a design studio could create new and really inspiring work and not just clean up stuff, at least, I didn’t feel like that was a future I wanted to pursue. I didn’t want to be part of that as a graphic designer, just cleaning up things and making brand manuals, and so on. That’s what I see.
With the book I wanted to show people that, but it’s hard, but it’s possible to make symbols because there’s an easy way out just to take type, and I mean people can do that very quickly, and when people talk about AI taking over our jobs and things, I feel that is sort of a quest for promoting graphic design.
Graphic design can be something amazing, and that’s what I see now with Fotografiska, we worked with them for such a long time, they’re opening up in New York now and seeing how all the patterns and the logo and all those things, the graphic elements could be used so many different ways, we have to find good places for graphic design to survive sort of, or impress.
Ian Paget: I think it’s interesting what you spoke about then, because I know creativity is one area where AI is unlikely to take over anytime soon but if you are just talking about tidying up, simplifying, you could create algorithms for that to analyse what is the most recognisable component within something, and I don’t see any reason why you can’t create an algorithm for that because I can start to paint the picture in my head what those parameters would be.
But I think in terms of what you’re talking about, I know you guys are working with a lot of startups rather than big organisations and I think because you are doing that you are able to get to know these people, and you’re able to take stories and convert that into some kind of symbol and I think that level of complexity and that level of thought and imagination, AI is nowhere near that. That could be hundreds of thousand’s of years away because it’s too much of an abstract thing, you can’t turn that into a programming language.
It’s interesting that you said that and I think because you are working in a way that you are, AI could never over take that. Also, the personal way that you guys are approaching working with clients, properly getting to know them, making friends with them, sharing the thought process. People will always pay for that.
Ida Wessel: I hope, yeah.
Ian Paget: People don’t want a computer doing their work. I genuinely think that. No one wants to say “oh yeah, AI did our logo.”
Ida Wessel: That’s true.
Ian Paget: You want that story and that authenticity.
Ida Wessel: I was really inspired by this thing I saw by Natasha Jan part of Pentagram. It was “Design Thinking is Bullshit“, have you seen that one?
Ian Paget: Yeah, I have.
Ida Wessel: It’s just interesting how she talked about the design process being so simplified and the lack of the critique throughout the process, and that was kind of interesting I think to, that’s sort of what is left behind in the evidence that she said, this is the book of evidence that you really worked hard and discarded a lot of things to end up with the final results.
Ian Paget: It must be really nice for you, for the both of you to have been able to take all of the work that you’ve done through your career so far and to put it into a book. So rather than it being, I don’t know how many logos you’ve done, but rather than it being just a hundred polished, finished logos or identities, you’ve put in book all of the work that you’ve actually done, all of the thinking, all of the process.
It must be nice for you guys to see that, but I also think it’s a really good thing to be able to pass down to people that are just starting out. I really hope it starts a trend, because there are very few books like this and I know I’m 100% certain that logo designers will especially be interested in that because the process is always the most interesting part. The finished logo is nice to see but it’s the thinking, the process, the ideas and the flow of how you’ve progressed through different things, and I like I said earlier, you’ve done it in a really nice way and I hope people that listen to this will go out and buy your book.
Ida Wessel: Thank you so much. No really, that’s how we learn from each other, I mean just sharing the process and that’s how you learn and become better at what you do.
I’m very happy to hear that. Thank you so much. It means a lot to us.
Jonas Banker: Thank you so much for this.
Ian Paget: You’re very welcome.
I think this a good point to close off the interview, so thank you again for coming on. It’s been really fun, and really interesting. We’ve gone into loads of different areas and I know people listening to this will definitely get something out of it, so thanks again for your time.
Ida Wessel: Great. Thank you so much.
Jonas Banker: Thank you so much for taking interest. Thank you.