This week I had an interview with a designer I only know for a couple of weeks. I’m glad I have met him because he is definitely a very inspiring and talented designer and also a great guy to interview. It’s absolutely worth every second of your time to read this interview I had with Arek Kajda alias “kajdax”!!
Welcome to Iconpaper Arek. Would you please introduce yourself to our Iconpaper followers?
“Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste…” (Actually, I always wanted to bring this phrase ) Ok folks, here we go: My name is Arek Kajda, some of you might know me as “kajdax” – my digital personality and nick for all kind of creative surroundings. I was born in Poland, and now live, work and think in Kassel, Germany. Since 2003, I’m working fulltime as Designer/Animation- artist for a multimedia company which is focused on online entertainment, mainly online-games. I flash, draw and do design stuff for both, clients and for my own pleasure!
Where did you learn your skills? Where do your creative instincts come from?
I’ve learned to draw from my father when I was a young and hungry but even creative inspired “kajdax”. My father is a great artist, so I guess my creativity is linked to my genetic-code. I’ve started with PS many years ago, basically for digitalizing my scanned drawings. After a little while, I got more and more experience with this great tool and realized the power and magic inside. Nowadays, I draw only in a digital environment and create stuff with PS, such as icons or web-avatars. Nevertheless, creating icons is just one part of my repertoire.
Can you give us an insight into a typical day in the life of Arek Kajda?
”Wake up in the morning…feeling like diddy” – just kidding.. Go to work. (Designing some game items, making animations and stuff) Lunch at high noon! Back in the office, got my headphones – check! Work on and on and on – you know the game! Knock of work! – “Feierabend”, kajdax going home. Back to my place, I’m doing sports, meet some friends, or watch some movies… just having a good time. In bed, before sleep, fooling around with my iPad, checking tweets, mails and/or reading comic books.
Although Iconpaper is a website dedicated to Mac, iPhone and iPad customization, I really wanna know the answer to my next question from you as a designer. Are you a Mac or a PC and of course why?
Both! @work I’m using a PC, cause I simply have no choice. @home it is my biggest pleasure to work with my iMac. I really love the user-optimized surface and all this little refining details that makes my work flow so much easier. In this, my heart is beating on the Mac side of life.
What design tools do you use and can you explain your choice? Which tools would you suggest to fellow designers?
Actually, I’m just using Photoshop and Flash. PS for design and Flash for animations. I have also some helpful plugins/filters for PS, that I use quite often for sharpening and so on. I should also start using Illustrator for some vector stuff but … I hate it
I’m working on a wacom cintiq 21 and I won’t miss it anymore, so if you do a lot of illustrations, go for one!
Where do you get your inspiration from or go for inspiration? And how do you deal with creative blocks?
I really have to say that I grew up in a very esthetic and interesting age. One of my most important inspirations came from the big movies and their style and esthetics such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, BTTF and so on. I’ve also read marvel comic books instead of school books. I’ve played games like Super Mario, Tomb Raider, GTA. I think a big part of my inspirations is linked to these kinds of stuff and formed me to the designer/illustrator that I am today. The other part of my inspiration still comes with the daily biz when you’re faced with a challenge and also during the design process itself. A wise man used to say “Appetite comes at meal and ideas at work”. I mean, I don’t really have to escape to a lonely island to switch my “oooooommmmm” mode on.
What’s your typical design process when designing an icon or icon set? And what makes a good icon or icon set in your opinion?
1. Brainstorming… brainstorming… brainstorming.( looking for the best synonym, what the style is gonna be about – cartoony or realistic, color and so on) Talking about the idea with some uninvolved persons. Then, start to scribble down the idea. If it does not work… back to “1. brainstorming”. If it works out for me, I can switch to step 2. “the digital process” in PS, where I construct or draw the elements. 3. After flash out the details I add some depth with Layer styles, blending-modes, lightings…yadayadayada…It is really important to know about light and how light is going to work and influence the look and shadows of an image.
For me, a good Icon must be “eyecandylicious” (this goes actually similar for logos, game items, UI parts too) – quite simple not to complicated, including a clever idea and functioning in different sizes and backgrounds.
How long do you spend on average creating an icon? What are the factors that contribute to how long you spend creating an icon or icon set?
Depends on the budget…haha (just kidding). Depends on the effort.
What other things do you do besides designing icons?
I have a lot of interests. Unfortunately, a day has just 24hours. When I’m not designing some personal work, I try to spent some time with my family and friends, collecting sneaks, riding my bike, pushing weights to keep my super hero shape
I’m also addicted to comic books, video games (ps3) and my biggest pleasure is watching the movies (you already know this if you follow me on twitter, I guess).
Most designers have unusual quirks. For instance I find the best collaborator is myself and often talk to myself to brainstorm ideas and solutions. What are your quirks?
Hmmm, let me think about it…
Ok. I never give layers names because they are no babies… But seriously, naming layers is too many handholds that interrupts my design flow. (Some guys are not happy about it ). At least, I’m totally “unquirky”…
Quick Fire Five:
• Forrst or Dribbble? … bbb
• Comic Sans, Love it or hate it? … hate
• Hand drawn or Digital? … both
• Facebook or Twitter? … twitter
• Design for Life or Design for Pleasure? …Ain’t no design for life without pleasure
I’ve followed you the last couple of weeks and I think your work is great and inspiring. What do you think is your best work (so far) and why?
I haven’t done my best work yet
From my current portfolio, I would say my Web Avatars series, especially **HansiHatoro. I love to create characters and with the web avatars series I’ve realized exactly the imagination that I had in my head before.
What are your plans for the near future and where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Hmmm?! I see myself in 10 years… wearing a silver suit, skating a hover board, phoning via implentated iphone8 nano with my wife to meet up for the movies to watch “Saw18 HOLOGRAM”
Can you tell us who your favorite designer is and please tell us what’s so special about him/her?
Karl Lagerfeld. He achieved a position in which he’s not reliant on other opinions.
Please tell us what’s the last song you’ve listened to, the last movie you’ve watched and last videogame you’ve played or we should listen, watch or play and do you have any good tips for us?
Song: LCD Soundsystem – Home
Game: Demon’s Souls (ps3) The hardest game I’ve ever played.
Movie: Michael Mann’s “Thief” (great Soundtrack) #backinthedays
I saw your website KM Playground (Hip to be square). What does it stand for and can you tell us something about your experience with commercial projects?
HEHE… “Hip to be square” is linked to one of my favorite scenes from the movie “ American Psycho”, and it is also my nerdy statement and slogan to the world! I always try to break out of the mainstream. It is kind of strange that clients hire a designer because they like his work/style and want to have something unique but then they try to make some weird changes instead to be sure of his expertise.
I got a lot of experience in my past years with big players like Panasonic, Bridgestone, Playboy… and their requirements, and IMAO its the best way to score with work that goes above the expected and not to take it personal if they challenge some changes. Nevertheless my personal opinion is still….
Thanks again for providing Iconpaper with the opportunity to interview you. Can you at last share some pearls of wisdom for up and coming designers in the field.
… DESIGN AIN’T DEMOCRATICALLY! PEACE OUT!
Interview with Arek Kajda,