TheeBlog Q&A Sessions: Alex Varanese

TheeBlog-AlexVaraneseInterview
It is Friday again and yes! TheeBlog Q&A Sessions are back and this time I am honored to share with you a great interview with an amazing artist! You might remember Alex Varanese and his work from my first post back in March called Red never looked so good and I’m sure you’ve seen -and will see- his work all over the interwebz. Not only he is a super cool cat, but his work is amazing and unique. Check out the interview, his sweet site and find out how you can get some of his prints soon!

Before we continue, I wanted to thank you again Alex for your time and for being so cool about this. I know you’re all over the place right now ;) we shall continue now…

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When did you decide to become a graphic artist and what motivated you?
Like most designers, my interest in art started before I can remember. Illustration, animation and 3D all appeal to me, but I consider myself a “designer” first and foremost because I love art that involves some degree of structure, abstraction and typography. I like creativity most when it’s infused with a message or voice, and that’s what motivates me.

Are there any designers and artists that inspire you? Have they influenced your work in any way?
I don’t have a great answer to this question. There’s not really a list of specific names I can rattle off, but every trip I take to sites like Behance is another drop of inspiration in the bucket. If it weren’t for that constant feed of new work from other designers, it’s unlikely I’d be anywhere near as productive as I am. I can’t tell you how many times a completely random detail I saw somewhere on the internet became a turning point in my own work.

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How would you describe your style?
I like to create art that sits at the intersection of multiple things. I have a background in 3D, I love typography and print, I’ve done a lot of motion work, and I’m a sucker for vintage textures and finishes. So I try to dump all of those things into the blender and see what happens when I hold the “frappĂ©” button down for about 20 minutes. As long as my work can’t be summed up with a single label or term, I feel like I’ve done my job.

I have to ask this question, why Red?
Red has always been my favorite color, and I’ve always appreciated artists who use it prominently. It’s such a bold, energetic color that it’s easy to shy away from it or feel the need to tone it down, but every time I see a piece that truly embraces it, the memory sticks with me a lot longer. So, naturally, it occured to me that following this strategy for not only an entire piece, but my entire body of work, would have an even bigger impact. So far, I’ve been quite pleased with the results.

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There’s a strong vintage style influence in your work, is there a reason?
I just find it fun to watch a piece transform after the effect of age and texture has been applied. There’s something very alluring about that yellowed, faded look you see in vintage print pieces, so rather than wait thirty years for it to happen to my work naturally, I let Photoshop do the sun-bleaching for me. I also listen to a lot of indie rock and related genres while working, which tends to keep my mind in retro mode.

Most of your series have a theme, how are these themes or ideas conceived?
It’s pretty random, to be honest, and often quite literal. I’ve always been fascinated by the shapes and structures of freeways and overpasses, for instance, so a series like Pavement Loop was inevitable. Other series, like Circuit Bent Type, are less about a single idea and more about cramming a bunch of details I like into the same piece.

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What is your production process? Do you follow the concept-sketch-computer method?
A number of my projects have started as pencil sketches, but I jump directly into production just as often. Sketching is a great exercise and something I should do more regularly, but I tend to find myself so excited about an idea that I simply dive in and hope for the best.

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What are your thoughts on current designers and the work that’s out there?

I visit Behance pretty often so I’m constantly reminded of how much good work is out there. It really seems like we’re in a bit of a design renaissance these days, with the sheer volume of people contributing and the breadth of different technologies to employ. Furthermore, as someone who’s particularly passionate about typography, it’s really encouraging to see how much interest people seem to have in letterforms and text. There’s no shortage of type exploration these days, which is really exciting.

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Is there anything you would change or would like to see?
I’d like to see a little less focus on production techniques and a little more on visual ideas. I geek out with Photoshop as much as the next guy, but sometimes it seems like blending modes and filters are becoming a crutch that makes new designers feel less compelled to develop a voice of their own. Ultimately, good work should be able to exist with or without a certain software package, but a lot of the stuff you see online these days simply wouldn’t be possible without Photoshop in particular. I think we’d all benefit by moving away from that a little.

Do you believe in trends?
Trends are a pretty fundamental part of design, and I’m as susceptible to them as anyone else. I’m the 50 billionth guy to jump on the “vintage” bandwagon, for instance, so I certainly can’t claim to be above it all. But there are two types of trends–the kind that enhance your work and the kind that define it. It’s the latter that end up causing problems. Case in point: I’ve seen enough stock photos of half naked models with swirling glow effects wrapped around them to last a lifetime.

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Do you think there will be major changes in the following years in regards to design, techniques or ideas?
Of course. Technology is the biggest driver of that kind of change, and I think the next 10 years will be pivotal in the way software is used in design. One of my predictions is that the boundaries between 2D, 3D, bitmap, vector, and even print and motion will be blurred so heavily that we’ll stop thinking about software programs as separate entities and start thinking of them as swappable, modular pieces in one big whole. I think the design produced in that world will be profoundly different than what we see today.

What are your plans for the rest of 2010?
I’m wrapping up a couple of really big new pieces right now, and I’ve got somewhere around 4-6 more major series to finish before I consider my current body of work “complete”. My longer-term plan is to put out an art book that contains the entire collection, and while I’ve long hoped that it’d be in my hands by the end of the year, my ever-escalating client activity will probably get in the way of that.

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2010 was your second year involved at TED. What can you tell us about this experience?
My involvement with TED was the result of sheer, blind luck brought about by my day job. I work as both a writer and a designer at a company that specializes in presentations and infographics, and TED’s been a client of ours for a few years now. The most important takeaway from these experiences has been that TED speakers are among the best clients you could ask for. They don’t get hung up on details, they absolutely love the creativity process, and you honestly feel like you’re contributing to something that matters.

I know the long and sometimes tedious process of planning and launching a site, blog or online store… but, when can we finally expect your store to launch?
As of yesterday I finally saw the first batch of real, finished AMV prints. I have a few more details to get figured out, such as the store itself and some extras that I plan on including with each order, but the prints themselves have been officially perfected and are ready to go. I’m hoping to have everything online and ready to go within a month, depending on client drama.

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Thank you Alex!

Visit his site for more visual candy! www.alexvaranese.com

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10 comments
  1. Amazing work and great interview.

  2. I have always loooved his work. Thank you for posting this interview!

  3. Thank you guys! and yes, he is an extremely talented young fella.

  4. I love love love his work. He is amazing. Love his responses also, he seems like a down to earth guy =)

  5. Excellent work, keep up the great interviews.

  6. Love your blog Diego! It teaches me new things… thanks for sharing such interesting subjects!

  7. Thank you Angela! That’s my goal, to share the awesome stuff I find during my interwebz crusades ;)

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