Just to do it!
In his role as art director of the Cayman communications agency Kristof Devos is responsible for the design of the TMaaS communications. He is also the man behind the many illustrations in our publications.
You’re a busy bee. In addition to your job as art director at Cayman, you also write and illustrate children’s books don’t you?
Kristof Devos: “That’s right. I have been working with Cayman for four years now and have been illustrating and writing for eight years. My sixth book, “De Wind en Wij”, has just been published and the reactions have been very positive. My work is currently available in six countries and last year I won several great prizes, including in the US. The cross-fertilisation between my work at Cayman and my work for the publishing world makes for an exciting mix. The two activities are mutually enhancing.”
How would you describe your style?
Kristof Devos: “I think that my designer style is less outspoken than my illustrator style. As a designer your work depends on the nature of a specific product or service. You create something that reflects the style of the product as closely as possible. Even when you produce illustrations, your aim is to represent the functional aspect of the product or service. My illustrations for TMaaS for instance are completely different from the style I use in my books for which I mainly work in pencil and charcoal. For TMaaS I apply a more delineated style with an urban feel to it, because that is what the mission calls for. The priority here is to communicate as clearly as possible.”
Why does a strong piece of graphic illustration need to achieve?
Kristof Devos: “For me it is important that the character of the creator and his/her approach is reflected in the work. There are certain typographic rules that one must be aware of and respect, but there is always a subjective layer that also seeps through into the work. Everyone expresses their own particular take on things and this generally results in a signature that is personal to them. If what was needed was purely a matter of a particular craft, everyone would produce the same results. The reality for designers is quite a different story. When you are commissioned to do a job, your work depends entirely on your client and you produce a wide range of creative work in which nobody can recognise your signature.”
Did TMaaS provide you with certain guidelines that had to be followed?
Kristof Devos: “I was actually given carte blanche. I was given tremendous freedom and the briefings were not completely set in stone. This meant that I was able try out several different directions. That is a fun way to work, because there are no limits set on your creativity. It also meant that I was able to develop a certain visual style, with lots of illustrations for the project in general and a specific graphic style for the bookazine.”
Just sit down and get on with it is the message!Kristof Devos
Is there are particular quote or maxim with which you can totally identify?
Kristof Devos: “Yes. It’s a quote of the American painter and photographer Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest just show up and get to work “. When I work on my books, I am already at my desk at half past eight in the morning ready to get down to work. Some days that works better than others, but you just have to keep at it. My latest book, for example, came about very spontaneously. I just wanted to sit down without any plans and spend the day drawing, and suddenly I had the prototype of the illustration for the cover of the book. I continued drawing and again ended up with the two characters of the book. Things like that don’t happen if you sit and wait for them to turn up. So the message is: Just do it!”
Do you have any tips for budding creative talent?
Kristof Devos: “First and foremost: practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. This is the start of everything. It is said that you need 10,000 hours in order to produce something worthwhile and develop your skills. I completely agree with this. I would also advise everyone to look around them and to talk to people who have been working in this industry for a long time. That can teach you an awful lot.”