Have you always been interested in design?
I did my master degrees in visual communication at HGK in Basel, Switzerland (HGK is Basel’s College of Art and Design) and created a lot of things along the way there. So I guess, yes, in terms of my education, design was always part of the game. Most of all though, I’d say my inspiration came from the people I met along the way that influenced my work, and everyday culture.
What other jobs have you had, to get to where you are now?
I’ve had a few different ones! Recently I started working at sirmary.com agency in Zürich, as a social content producer, and before that I did digital communication and marketing at Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland’s most popular art museum. But co-founding wiewaersmalmit.ch has probably been my most important so far, in terms of having total freedom with a project.
What’s your process like? Is it about volleying ideas back and forth with others? Do you work at the last minute?
Design is always a process of developing ideas, it’s sort of a ping pong between different people, facts and happenings in everyday life. For our designs we don’t have deadlines so I’m sort of free to release ideas when I feel they’re ready for the world – except if we do commissioned work, as we did recently for Kunsthalle Basel or Radio X. When we do collaborate with institutions, like Kunsthalle, usually we’ll dig into their topics and needs, as well as the purpose and goals of the design. Then we’ll start drafting designs that might fit the concept, in constant exchange with the institution. I find exchanging ideas with others really valuable, and it tends to lead to new solutions too.
When do you feel most creatively satisfied?
When I see happy people wearing the stuff I’ve created.
What’s your criteria for choosing projects to work on, and why T-shirts?
I like to bring diverse people together, and for me it’s really important to have fun; humour is bliss. I love creating very ‘local’ T-shirt designs that people living in one specific place or area can relate to – why go far away when you can find inspiration right next door? People wear T-shirts directly on their skin, they’re almost like a second skin that communicates, and I find that really inspiring.
I like to learn by making mistakes
How does the process of designing for physical objects, like T-shirts, compare to your other work? What do you need to keep in mind?
In comparison to the digital space wiewaersmalmit.ch and social media, where our articles are published, this is a nice change, and a way of stepping into the real world. Because we only produce on demand T-shirts we don’t have a stock of T-shirts and designs, I guess that’s what makes them precious: they’re not available all the time and you can’t get them in any store. As soon as buyers wear their tees, the demand rises and that’s when we decide if and when we will produce again.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
“Rethink every step and repeat it 100 times.” I work better by actively designing: less thinking and more doing. I like to learn by making mistakes, and through people’s reactions to my work.
And on that theme, what advice would you give to other young creatives?
Just do it! Create, and most of all, keep on doing. I don’t think you can talk about something unless you’ve started practising it. You need to get your designs out into the world, get reactions, see whether people like it or neglect it. You learn by doing, to me that’s the only way.
What are you working on next, what’s in your queue at the moment?
Our bâle hand towel and our annual print magazine, +41, are both being released for the first time this coming June. And as always, I have several small pop-up events in mind, I’m working on concepts to bring wiewaersmalmit.ch to another level, and as always, I’m also busy answering all kinds of different requests.
Liked this? Check out Jay Daniel Wright’s process.