Interview: Derek Fenech

Posted by & filed under Art, Graphic.

REDWHITEmt will be featuring the main actors behind its purpose; ie. the designers themselves. For this first interview, we got in touch with our great friend and artist, Derek Fenech.

Interested in design, typography, information architecture and design, photography, illustration, architecture, music, film, traditional urban signage, old letterpress type, valletta, comics, the sea, good food and wine, Derek, 33 is from Mosta but currently lives in Qormi. He is creative director at Uniblue where he has lately been given the task to start off an information architecture and design area within the company to improve the overall user experience.

Favourite colour:
At the moment cyan, however my colour preferences tend to change depending on my mood.

How did you become a graphic designer?
My passion for letters. My mother narrates that one of my favourite playthings was a set of ABC blocks. Probably this has nothing to do with the choice of my career but the mix of artistic flair and the quest for clear communication played the major part.

What do you most enjoy about being a graphic designer?

The infinite ways of presenting information.

How do you keep yourself inspired? What/who inspires you?
Milton Graser (the great art director that designed the ILOVENY iconographic logotype) once said that a creative process has to be a dialogue never a monologue. Sharing your thoughts, ideas and work with other creatives, not just graphic designers. The urban environment is another great inspiration.

A career highlight?

Being one of the main speakers at the Typographic Conference in Birmingham organised by the St Bride Library (a mecca for graphic designers and typographers, hosting the oldest collections of type specimens) It was a great opportunity also to connect and share ideas and a beer with great designers like Pete Saville, Christian Schwartz and Paul Barnes amongst others, with most of them forging a good friendship.

Graphic design in Malta. Your thoughts?

Some great talent but we definitely lack collaboration. If only we get together we can show the rest of the international design community our excellent graphic produce. Books, exhibitions, portals all can serve the cause.

Favourite type?
The one that answers the quest for optimum legibility. (Guardian Egyptian designed specifically for the redesign of The Guardian newspaper by Christian Schwartz and Paul Barnes is a perfect example).

Can anyone become a graphic designer?
Everyone can be creative but not everyone possesses the skills needed for graphic design. Graphic designers have a responsibility to present content in a clear and understandable way to the person interacting with the medium. If the user doesn’t get the information he needs because of some fancy whirly illegible type or kitsch photoshop effects, than the design has failed. I worked with “designers” that do not even read the content they are designing! So how can one communicate it effectively?

Less is more. Is it?

What skills are most important for a designer?
As i said before the need to understand information and the way how the user will interact with it. Typography, perceptual pyschology, colour communication are all skills that one needs to acquire and practice religiously.

What do you think of REDWHITEmt?

It’s the start of the collaboration process. I suggest that you possibly explore the idea of sometimes leaving the digital domain and become more physical.

Special mention to any local project?
The works of Bulldog design.

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