Interview by Ovidiu Hrin / 2011
A few words about Alexe PopescuIt all started in 1996 when I had a 2 months scholarship in Barcelona while studying mechanical engineering. It was there that I bought my first SLR camera, spending all my money on it. Following on from this I bought my own enlarger got into developing black & white photos while also taking up drawing. Two years later I got into UNARTE Design Department - my first serious contact with type. During my time there I also developed an interest in printing techniques and crafted a series of stencils in Bucharest.
During the following years I moved between various design areas: advertising & branding, product design & type design, book design & packaging, video art & ARapps. But typography and type design remain a constant challenge and attraction to me.
What do you love most about design?Probably the fact that it can be used as a single language in many different areas.
Is there anything you hate about design?It takes too much time. I'm constantly trying to read, watch and do non-design stuff. And also the overuse of the word “design”.
You have quite a colorful career which apparently you bent constantly throughout the years: Stencil artist, Independent Magazine editor, CD Cover designer, Type designer, Product designer, book designer … What’s next?I'm currently working on a smart phone AR application and an illustration project, but in the near future I'll be revisiting product design and type design. I have quite a few sketches and ideas that have been queuing for too long :)
Remember your CD designs from 2003 which I must admit made me want to design CD covers. You were also the first designer I saw back then who used the ‘empty space’ of a Jewel case as a reservoir for other objects ( coffee, lead ). Can you elaborate a bit on the design process?It always starts with listening to the tracks. Then comes the challenging part of matching music mood and title, available printing and production techniques and a low budget. Once this is done, the choice of typography and the digital layout begin to show the final product. I tend to have a series of 2-3 tuned “prototypes” and only then the final step, production, which generally involves a lot of “manuality” (which I personally really enjoy).
What influenced you most throughout your career? What were your questions in different periods of time?I suppose the key decision was to abandon a potentially short career in advertising for a lifetime design journey.
The question that has always followed and provoked me: Can good design come from Romania?
Do you work best in a group or all by yourself?I’ve had excellent experiences working in collaboration with others and the success of the work comes out of the ‘group vibes ‘. Any work scenario is fine for me, depends on the task at hand.
When did you realize that you have design talent?When I first had professional feedback of my work.
What is the most important thing you have learned in your career?A good balance of commercial and non-commercial work.
I guess that not being a big design firm has its advantages on the choice of client side. Do you get to do this, choosing clients that is?When choosing a project it always comes down to the balance of three elements money, professional experience and notoriety. At least one of them should be at the highest level.
How important is financial success for you?In reality you don’t need loads of money to fulfill your dreams.
If you were granted entry at any of the design studios worldwide, what studio would you chose? Would you even give up what you already have?One random option: edenspiekermann, berlin.