Radim Malinic is a creative director and graphic designer based in South West London, working under the name Brand Nu. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to form a practice based around positivity, message and meaning, his client base includes Harry Potter, MasterCard, Cadbury and Dolby Atmos. He has recently published his book, Book of Ideas, which is a journal of creative direction and graphic design.
What made you want to become a designer?
Unlike the majority of the people in the creative industry, I didn’t have a clear view of what I wanted to be from an early age. My career path into graphic design was rather indirect. I was an ice hockey player, bass player in a death metal band, indie DJ and music journalist, all of which were topped with a degree in economics. I stumbled into the world of graphic design in my early twenties and I never looked back. I didn’t follow passion as such, I followed my perpetual curiosity for what kept me coming back for more. I was excited to learn, and design was an ocean of information to explore.
What led you to the work you’re doing now?
I started very much at the bottom and worked my way up to where I am today. My work has always been about functionality for true purpose of design. I started with flyers and posters, restaurant menus and small websites. It took me the best part of a thousand pieces to work out what I liked to do and what I didn’t enjoy so much. I wanted to make greater connection between the work, client and the audience. I am dedicated to my career and I always strive to uncover better understanding of what we do and who we do it for.
What does a typical ‘day in the life’ look like for you?
Even after ten years of freelance work, I still try to work out how to do as much as possible with each waking hour. I run a creative business and I make sure my clients get the best service from start to finish. This can take a lot of effort to balance admin and creative time. When possible, I try to get out of the office; taking my dog for a walk and get some ‘thinking’ time. Time indoors can be very consumed with all the peripheral noise.
What type of design inspires you at the moment?
I get a kick out of pleasant surprises, when design combines a great idea and beautiful execution. I like when design is based on science and understanding – it inspires action. Whatever is created today, its success is being measured and tracked in real time. This can take the enjoyment out design, however we can use tools like Big Data, analytics and performance tracking to our advantage.
What type of project do you enjoy working on?
I like projects when everyone is involved. I see clients as collaborators or team players. It’s a simple cognitive shift and it makes the world of difference. I prefer to work with decision-makers and build two-way trust into the process. This way the best can be achieved and it opens a world of possibilities. Any designer who cares shouldn’t succumb to being a mechanical answer to poor brief.
Do you enjoy working within limitations, or do you prefer to be given full creative control?
Creativity should be hard, getting from A to B should be a struggle until the very end. It might sound a bit strange, but an easy process of repetition doesn’t stimulate enjoyment. Even if there’s a complete freedom to do anything I would like, I work.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I am lucky to enjoy a constant stream of opportunities that vary in size and style. Currently, I’m working on an album campaign with an added VR element, my other project is an interior design and direction, I’ve been making sketches for a music video direction and there’s a number of branding and web projects in the pile too.
What would be your one tip for design?
Open your eyes and keep observing the world around you. If you keep questioning everything, it will make you much better at what you do. Try to understand the simple processes of what creativity and design stands for in our daily life.
What does the phrase “timeless design” mean to you?
When you look at something and can’t think of any way of making it better. For example, Transport for London has been a great example of having an exceptional design work since the very beginning. Tube maps, typefaces, illustrations, publicity posters, signage and much more, it all has been designed to perfection. In a life of a Londoner, it is easy to take for granted the whole design system on public transport; its effortless look provides for fantastic user experience. Simply timeless stuff.
What advice would you give to those looking to pursue a career in design?
Whatever you do, do it for the right reason. I know people who have studied graphic design and now work in insurance. They were simply tempted by the job title with a nice ring to it. You need to get in to creative industry wanting to create great work, something that will connect with people. I believe creativity can inspire great action and movement. Every creative should see themselves as someone who can change lives through good and honest work.
In September 2013, academics at the University of Oxford published a report detailing the likelihood that robots will take over many professions. Do you think this could happen to design and creative work? Please explain your answer.
We’ve had 25+ years of software applications to make design creation easier, but there’s no glimmer or view that it could be just used by robots to replace the complex human mind. What we create is aimed for other people. Robots can create for robots.
Does your mood or mind-set influence what you design?
It does indeed. It’s easy to get swamped and have our lives influenced by other things in our peripheral view. We are slaves to our mobile devices and social media, which has been proven to make us depressed! Our lives our now consumed by playing the ‘numbers game’ – we crave ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ for everything we share online. I think happiness comes from paying attention. The best way to gain a positive mind-set is to concentrate on what you are working on.
Is there anything special that helps you stay focused?
These days it’s silence that helps me stay focused. I try not to multi task, it just confuses your mind. I tried to get out of the office as much as possible. It helps to calm the mind to regain focus. We are bombarded with heaps of information every day, when don’t have enough time to digest it all.
What happens when you hit the proverbial “designers block”?
My advice would be not to panic. You need the opportunity to take a step back and have a proper look at your problem. Take inspiration from other projects; look at why they worked and see if it points you in the direction of where to go next. Put pen to paper, collect fragments, anything to build momentum and start finding an answer to your problem.
What do you think of social platforms like Instagram when it comes to sharing artwork? Do you have any recommended follows?
Too many people create work for Instagram – if you take away their phone, they’ve got no career. For me, that’s the wrong choice. We need to engage, see the world in 5D – experience the world in five senses.
Do you have time to do anything creative in your spare time?
I try to disengage from my to-do list as much as possible when I’m not working. Right now, I spend as much as possible with my new-born daughter and I get to see the world through her eyes. It has already made me think of creating a kids clothing range. I weave in my personal projects alongside the client work, so when I am not working and I really am not working.
Are there any other creative mediums or forms of art you’d like to explore?
I guess in an unplanned organic way, I experimented with all sorts of mediums in the recent years – instead of making ton of new work all the time, I make sure that I really explore every possibility with smaller number of pieces. Whether I make a sculpture, print in 3D or laser cut my artwork into gold mirrors, I just simply have fun an explore what possibilities are out there. I released Book of Ideas in March, which has been an Amazon #1 bestseller to my huge surprise, and I really enjoyed the process. I would like to share more thoughts and observations and another books might be on the way soon too. I’d also like to make a movie one day, and I’ll find a way to pursue that!