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July 10, 2019
Culture

DM with a designer: Studio Kiki

Interviews over Instagram with all the relevant imagery you'd imagine.

  • Questions: Josh Fanning
  • Answers: Kyiandra Thanou

Over the past two weeks we’ve had a meandering conversation via direct message (DM) on Instagram with emerging graphic designer Kyiandra Thanou.

Over this time we’ve jumped in and out of the chat, swapped favourite accounts we follow, explored her process of creating in the digital age and even revealed the last photo we each had saved on our camera roll! It’s kind of like a 21st Century version of the tell all interview with an aesthetic bent.


CityMag
Hi Kyandra

 

Studio__kiki
Hey!

 

CM
We are c o n n e c t e d

Do you follow?

Nathan W Pyle Strangeplanet – fun!

 

KK
No I don’t! But I just had a quick lurk, looks v cute

 

CM
What’s your favourite IG account at the moment?

 

KK
It’s always going to be scenic Simpsons!!

 

Scenic Simpsons – crops of Simpsons’ scene

 

KK
For nostalgic reasons of course, but also for its super aesthetic crops on scenes from episodes which has now made me super aware of composition and how to make something new out of something old

 

CM
Great colours in the Simpsons universe. A deep sense of satisfaction associated with those opening titles. Do you think about colour and composition in that way – that they can actually lead to people having an emotional response, like ‘ahhhhhh. Nice’

 

KK
Haha pretty much! Something along the lines of ‘I’m not sure why, but my eyes really like this’

Colour and composition can definitely create a mood or some sort of intimacy I think!

 

CM
How do you answer that sometimes awkward question, ‘what do you do?’

 

KK
You’re right it is an awkward one.. and I seem to always answer it somewhere along the lines of ‘I’ve just graduated uni and am freelancing kind of but still working hospitality too’

Sometimes I forget I have an expensive piece of paper now that entitles me to saying I’m a designer

But I am a freelance designer and I run my own business studio Kiki which is starting to grow into a full time thing!

 

CM
That’s an excellent answer. We interviewed artist and sculptor Julia Robinson recently and she said she felt like an artist as soon as she graduated. Not everyone feels like that. Being paid for your creative practice helps though, do you agree?

 

KK
Wow that’s great! It’s a tricky one for sure. I think that it definitely helps to be paid –  working out a structure and everything working within that helps to strengthen things and makes it all a little clearer

 

CM
Your posters for Sugar are great. Music has such a strong relationship to design and photography. Record covers are a constant source of inspiration for us at CityMag too. Are you looking to old mediums like vinyl or finding inspiration from accounts on Instagram? (It’s not to say they’re mutually exclusive)

 

KK
Thanks! I get a bit of inspo from both – I definitely try to take inspo from older vinyl covers more so but I guess Instagram and the internet  are constantly there so it’s hard not to subconsciously take inspiration from something youve seen before when scrolling! I think I try my best to take that inspiration and break it down into my own way so it still has my own touch if that makes sense.If I’m at second hand stores and see vinyl covers I usually take a picture so I can swatch a colour or typeface. I think that the posters strongly reference 90s rave flyer design so I try to find mostly dated pieces of work that I can study and work out the best way to produce something that would fall within that genre

 

CM
It’s 20 years since the film Human Traffic!

 

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90s rave culture is an interesting aesthetic reference. Does graphic design take cues from what’s going on in other design realms. 90s have been trending in fashion – does that inform design too?

 

KK
It definitely does – I think it’s pretty easy to distinguish an era within design most the time. Whether it be through colour, form, medium etc. the 90s seem to always be trending! I think that design, fashion and music all compliment each other in a sense – fashion trends inform design and it works in reverse too I think. For example designing something that has a feeling of an era can definitely influence the environment that the design is applied to

 

CM
Where have you seen that happen best in your opinion? Either a project you’ve worked on or something else entirely… where in Adelaide have you seen a design influence the environment?

 

KK
I try and create some form of nostalgia within my posters so that the viewer will form a connection with the promo and the event itself to gain a feeling that the event will have the same feel that a club did in the 90s

 

CM

 

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Carlo Jensen’s work with Sans Arc on Midnight Spaghetti has to be one of the best amalgamations of graphic and interior design. But also, the Exeter’s lack of design or any noticeable alteration in the last decade creates a solid vibe too.

 

KK
I haven’t yet been to midnight spaghetti but their branding is definitely on the cool side and caters to a certain demographic!  I think Parwana is another great one. The feeling of family history and intimacy creates such a wholesome and warm experience

 

CM
Who is your ultimate / dream client?

 

KK
Boiler room! I’ve really looked up to their past graphic designers and would love to have that opportunity – that’s probably where my interest for poster design started

 

CM
Do you follow them on IG?

 

KK
I follow the designers and boiler room yes !

 

CM
Flick us some of your favourite things they’ve done?

 

KK

 

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These aren’t for boiler room but some of my favourite pieces of work by a past boiler room designer!

 

CM
They’re great. The middle poster has shades of Neville Brody (The Face magazine art director).

Do you think about that much? The idea that what you do can be dated and then, after a while, come back into fashion or even become timeless?

 

KK
Definitely – I think it happens a lot. It’s a great way to experiment regardless of whether something will come back into fashion too

 

CM
Can you imagine what you’d be doing if you weren’t working in design?

 

KK
I like to imagine that quite often actually! I think something like botany (although I’m terrible at science)

 

CM
Do you feel pressure when posting on Instagram or does your Studio Kiki profile help you be more free with what you post personally?

We feel there’s a pressure to conform based on likes. When you share something that gets very few likes, you’re less likely to share that sort of image again and, vice versa, you feel more compelled to repeat images that were previously successful.

 

KK
I feel  a lot less pressure on Instagram by using my studio Kiki account. In saying that though, sometimes it feels easy to feel pressured to make fast work because there’s constant designs being uploaded by others. I think that I care less if people like the work but sometimes feel like instead of sitting and working on things for a longer period of time there’s a pressure to upload something constantly which takes away from working on personal projects for a longer amount of time. I don’t post a lot of work I do for clients so there is a sense of pressure to post my own art constantly in order to keep business going.

 

CM
Exactly. It’s an imagined pressure but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. The pressure to create.

 

KK
Definitely – I’ve heard a lot of artists and designers talk about this too. It is imagined but in a sense it is there because everyone’s attention spans seem so much shorter and people move on quickly to new interests / preferences on the internet so I think that the pressure comes from that place. I have tried to combat it by sometimes just making work for myself and not posting it or keeping some folio pieces away from Instagram so that there’s still a sense of surprise for other viewers.

My feed is mainly just a lot of designers from around the world and a lot of local artists and musicians! I used to spend more time using Instagram socially but didn’t get much out of it and realised it was way more inspiring to be connecting with like minded creatives

 

CM
We saw you share some pics – looked like film – of Darknife and Marshstepper. Looked like a great show. Are you involved with the production / design?

 

KK
The show was great. I wasn’t involved in production or design – was just lucky enough to take some pictures on the night 🙂

 

CM
Did you shoot on 35mm?

 

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A post shared by KIKI (@studio___kiki) on

 

 

KK
Those images were from dslr but I had 2 film cameras too which I’m waiting to receive back some time today! Hoping to have some good film photos too. The dslr was mainly just back up but I’m pretty happy with how they came up

 

CM
Do you find yourself experimenting with photography? A lot of designers are becoming multi-disciplined we find

 

KK
Definitely – even if it’s taking a shitty photo on my phone and trying to recreate it with close up crops etc helps. I find a lot of the time I’m wanting to use an image within my designs and sometimes can picture something but don’t have anything useable so I’ve started to try and experiment more and even look through old pictures to see if there’s any small details that can be used in a new way

 

CM
Do you have an example? This sounds intriguing!

 

KK

 

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The first poster was a picture I took on my phone of the sunrise ages ago. I played around with it and cropped it to make something new! I do that a lot when I want a texture or something.

Image 2 uses an image I took whilst in japan. I played around with finding small aesthetic crops from a bigger picture. I really like to find small interesting aspects that you wouldn’t normally notice in a large picture!

Number 3 was an image taken at the king krule show last year –  really shitty film photo of the crowd but I find those pictures super good for capturing style etc and representing a new atmosphere.

 

 

CM
There’s something perfect about the imperfect. The way pixels can add atmosphere for example as you zoom into a small resolution image.

Do you enjoy this aspect? Digging into the pixels to see what’s there?

 

 

KK
Yeah definitely! Sometimes I think things look better when they look a bit gritty!

I enjoy finding purpose for something that is just sitting in a folder not being used!

 

CM
Waste not, want not!

What’s the last photo on your iPhone? Are you willing to share?

 

KK

Yeah – it’s a film photo I just got back from the darknife show

 

CM
That’s a bit too cool!

 

Although – this is the last photo on my phone. Screen shot of an IG story by @jvdkphoto. The blury man in the bottom frame is CityMag’s publisher.

 

KK
Those are great pictures 🙂

 

CM
You should follow him. His stories are great. Very poised and balanced. He finds incredible sympathy in some of the most mundane subjects. He is king of the cropped image to accentuate beautiful details.

 

KK
I just gave him a follow! Really really great stuff. Thanks !

 

CM
Are there any local creative people you are following who you think CityMag should be following?

 

KK

David is a great designer! We graduated the same year. Bri is a dear friend that is kicking goals with her art/photography

 

CM
We’ll give them a follow! Thanks for sharing Kyiandra. It’s been wonderful texting with you.

Follow @studio___kiki on Instagram

More work by Studio KiKi

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