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Portraits of Creativity Portraits of Creativity: That handsome devil is Armin Vit, boo-yah!
 

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Veer:

In your eyes, what’s been your greatest work?


Armin:

The easy answer is Speak Up. But in a way, that didn’t go through the process. It is a graphic design piece in a sense that it’s functional, it looks good, and it works well. But the restrictions were set by myself. I think graphic designers really excel when someone else puts restrictions on you and you have to solve someone else’s problem.

In terms of work for clients, there are a few things that I really like. There’s a book we did for New York University School of Law where they went on a capital campaign to raise $400 million. They asked us to do a 16-page brochure, and we came back with a proposal for a 100-page book. It was a really interesting project altogether. We developed a lot of content, and a lot of things were very extreme design for a school of law. That process was really rewarding, and the book turned out amazing.


Veer:

On the flip side of that, what’s been your biggest failure?


Armin:

I think you obviously fail when something goes wrong in the process and you get the box of samples, you open it up, and there’s a big screw-up. That always feels like a failure, but that’s just a mistake. Shit happens to everyone.

Failure comes when you settle for something, or don’t fight for what you think is the right solution, or settling for something that doesn’t challenge anyone. In the past, I’ve done a lot of that. The client has been after you for a long time, and you just go, ‘All right, you want purple type on a green background? Fine, here’s your fucking rate card. See what you can do with that.’


Veer:

What role do you think design has in our society or our culture? How important is design as a communication?


Armin:

We play a huge role because more than other people we’re able to translate an abstract idea into something you can hang or hold or project on a screen. I think we do play a huge role in shaping the visual landscape.


Veer:

Do you think there’s a responsibility that comes with that?


Armin:

Yes, as much as a plumber has a responsibility in unclogging your toilet. You have to do your job right because people depend on it. If you do a half-assed job on a way-finding system, people will not know where to go. If you do a bad job with the financial information of an annual report, people will not make heads or tails of the information.


Veer:

What do you love to do when you’re not working to stay creative?


Armin:

I like to watch a lot of TV. You shut off the part of your brain concerned with day-to-day shit while you’re watching other people’s day-to-day shit in all those reality shows. I love reality shows. You get an insight into other people. I love watching MTV. I don’t know if you’ve seen the new show of the five guys that try to break records. It’s the stupidest show ever, but I can’t not watch it. It’s pop culture, and that’s one of the biggest sources of inspiration designers can draw from because there’s always something new, and that’s the only way to keep up.

The others are typical - go for a walk, go shopping, or go to the coffee place or museums and movies. I don’t have any extreme hobbies like snowboarding or anything of the sort.


 

Pullquote


Veer:

Your wife, Bryony, also works in design. How do you work together creatively?


Armin:

We’ve noticed that when we work on something like those projects that are for the design public, we work very well together and feed off each other’s ideas. We’ve done a couple of projects where we’ve tried to design a logo or web site for someone else, and we butt heads a lot. It’s the collaboration thing. I have really strong ideas of what I want to do and why I want to do them, so when I have to work with someone else, I don’t do it very well. If we separate - if someone is doing the design and we acknowledge that ‘You’re going to be in charge and I’m not going to mess with it’ - we’ll join forces in another way. That works out well.

With the Design Encyclopedia, we brainstorm about how it could be done and what are the best ways to get it moving forward. Bryony’s really good at being pragmatic. I usually come up with the stupid ideas. When we first did the T-shirt contest for Speak Up, I think I lost $1,500. She’ll always ask me ‘So how much money did you lose?’ and I play dumb. ‘I don’t know, I think we broke even.’ She looks at me like, ‘Yeah, right.’

When we did the poster contest that Veer sponsored, she said, ‘You keep your hands off this. I’m going to make sure we at least break even for real.’ Bryony’s really good at managing the things that I just kind of say, ‘Well, if we lose money, it’s just money, but we have fun in the process.’ So, she’s cool in that way.


Veer:

What do you see yourself doing in the future, creatively or otherwise?


Armin:

I’d like to have my own studio where things are done my way. I don’t see myself doing a lot of things other than design or writing about design, so my future’s really focused on doing that the best that I can for good people.

We’re also expanding the empire of Under Consideration. I would love to do a conference or a lecture series or maybe a magazine. Just to see how else we can bring the spirit of Speak Up - which is what brought all of this forth - into other things. So I’ll close my eyes and hope for the best. End of Article


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