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a goddess of a victory April 12, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in Uncategorized.
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Do you know what the word Nike means? If you’re familiar with the ancient history then that’s an easy question for you. If not – see the title of this post (:. But if you’re a sport’s lover or a brand lover then you know what Nike stands for in our days. Recently I’ve heard this name quite often – two guest lectures at the university from marketing people working at Nike and  some posts from other bloggers in my google reader. And if you are wondering why I’m writing about Nike in this blog – keep reading further!

I would like to share an interview with graphic designer Inese Siliņa. Coincidentally I found out that there is a designer working for Nike Golf company (located in Beaverton, Oregon, U.S.) who has a Latvian name. And I  was intrigued. Unfortunately I don’ t know many designers coming from Latvia who are working for big international companies (however I hope that there are some). Therefore  I contacted Inese to ask few questions about her work. Thus recently she and Nike Golf won a prize in REBRAND 100® Global Awards (for redesign of Nike Golf ball packaging line). And I’m very happy to share her answers with you. Enjoy!

1. Could you please tell us more about your job at Nike? (The main duties, designing process etc.)

Nike as a company is large and as a graphic designer your role can vary widely depending on which category (sport) you cater to. In a way it’s great, because as you grow and take on new positions or change categories your job changes with it.

Right now I am a senior designer at Nike Golf and I get to work on a wide range of projects from logo work to finalizing a product’s launch to market. This can entail naming, developing branding, packaging, information graphics, defining visual style guide for how to bring product to market, and creating different retail executions. Developing brand experiences – environments, campaigns… I get to be there from A to Z, to help define strategy, develop concepts, refine designs, establish guidelines, and lead its global adaptation. It’s a very fast paced job that is result driven but innovation and fresh approach to things is always a must. And that’s what I love about it – everyday I keep asking myself what can I do better or different? What kind of an impact my design decision on a color selection, shape of the box or treatments or materials I select will have in the global marketplace? How can I change the design so that it uses the least amount of resources… and you go on and on. You truly challenge everything you do and it keeps it interesting.

2. How long time did it take to redesign Nike Golf ball packaging line?

Overall it was a quite of a task to redesign the whole global golf ball line packaging in approximately a six month period. It started with a redefine strategy and examination of how a systematic design approach would translate through different product brands. At the beginning we were working on different conceptual designs and after the direction was approved we had to design and refine each brand, including creating a whole new information architecture, graphics, illustrations, as well as lead and manage all of the execution phase as well. It was an incredible amount of work that had to be accomplished fast with quite small team but the result was great. Knowing that our choices from the design perspective allowed Nike Golf to reduce their global environmental footprint was rewarding.

3. Which of your projects have given you the most satisfaction?

After being in the industry for awhile I realized that it’s not the end result – the “form (logo, poster, campaign)” — that really satisfies me, it’s the process you go through to create that brings the most fruitful lessons and gratification. It’s the people that you work with that really make the difference.

4. Does your background in painting give you some advantage working as graphic designer?

My artistic background is quite an advantage in the design field since I been practicing and studying fine art since I was 11 years old.

For me being a graphic designer is somewhat an extension of a fine artist; I don’t separate those in my mind – the form of the outcome is different but you use the same skill set to create a painting or defining retail environments, branding experiences or designing packaging for a product. You have to think strategically, conceptually; you have to be able to compose and articulate visually your ideas by using same the principals of composition, color and different techniques. The art piece perhaps is harder to define, measure, and articulate because so much of it is a subjective expression of one’s vision.  In graphic design the outcome is more result/form driven since it has to meet an objective, and because of that it’s more measurable.

5. And of course we want to know what is the secret  to become a successful designer in USA …

What I like about the USA (which might sound like a cliché) is that everyone does have an opportunity. It’s up to the individual to make out of it something that is worth their time.

I moved to USA with one suitcase in hand leaving all my life behind. I had my BFA in painting (Latvian Art Academy in Riga) and the only person I knew was my husband. What did I do to make it where I am today? The short answer was that I studied (MFA from Academy of Art University, San Francisco) and worked really hard and always was passionate about what I did. Without that inner motivation and believing that what you do makes a difference you can’t really invest so much of your life into it. And people do take notice of that and are attracted to it.

A few tips:

–  It’s crucial to choose the right school with a great program that is known and respected in the industry that you want to break into.

–  Invest everything; don’t hold back while you are at school. This is the time to study really hard, experiment and try out new things, approaches. In the working world more often than not you won’t get to explore and do as much conceptual work as you do in school. You have to take advantage of that. In real life setting on whatever project you will work there always will be boundaries in which you will have to operate. In school – there really are few boundaries. The biggest boundary is how much you are willing to put into your own explorations.

–  Go where is fear. That will always be the most meaningful experience when you have done something that you never thought you could. It’s easy to choose a direction where you know you’ll excel because it’s familiar. But exploring new ideas/techniques/concepts is what will allow you to grow as a designer.

–   People always say you have to network and I always hated that. But I now understand how important it really is. I have found just by being yourself and being open to others and doing the best work you can, you will build your network. I never expected that one of my teachers would become one of my best friends, the guest speaker at my design school would later become my first employer (MetaDesign, San Francisco), and that many of my classmates would be my future colleagues.

–  And if you can’t stomach it, if you lack discipline and are not ready to work hard, find something different to do with your life.

Another work by Inese Siliņa and MetaDesign. Identity and collateral for San Francisco Conservatory of Music that won Rebrand and Spark Awards


Latvian graphic design history. November 22, 2008

Posted by ieva in Uncategorized.
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1 comment so far

jauna gaita magazine I was reading an article in Metropolis magazine about a Turkish design group. It was titled “The birth of a tradition”. “Istanbul has everything- everything, that is, except a contemporary-design movement to call its own. (..) You really have to understand your roots to produce an identity.” And, of course, it made me think about the situation in Latvia (we’re not the only ones to have this problem, hah..)the discussions all around- do we have design in Latvia, where is it, is there a possibility for design to exist, for designers- to work… I think a big part of the problem is that we are not aware of our past. How can we build the future without knowing our past!? I spent 5 years in an art/design school in Riga and I can say that I didn’t get almost anything from our design history and that is really a shame.

So I was very happy to discover the collection of Mikus Vanags.

Here you can find a wide range of examples of posters, books and magazine covers from Latvian graphic design history (approx 1920-70). The collection is made by Latvian graphic designer Mikus Vanags:” While living in Estonia I noticed that people have a very strong sense of visual identity of their country. So I wanted to find something similar in Latvia. It was hard to get good materials. It is essential to gather this visual information to understand what makes us different.”