Alexander possesses that rare thing in a young designer, a unique vision, combined with a creative take on things which he pours in abundance into his type, identity and printed work. Although he now lives in Venezuela, Alexander was born in the UK, so maybe you’ll spot a little British mixed with South American sexiness in his designs too. We love his typography work and we think you will too!
So with the introduction out of the way, let’s kick things off with a brief Q&A…
1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
I was born 30 years ago in Swindon, England. I was raised and spent most of my life in the oil-driven, South American country, Venezuela. Infamous for its socialist/communist leader and high crime rate, but also known for its beautiful beaches and delicious rum. I originally attended a British school, and then a German school in Caracas and I went on to study graphic design at Pro-Diseño (also in Caracas). I left design school early to become an art director at an Arts & Culture magazine called plátanoverde where I worked for a 4/5 years. This opportunity allowed me to experiment a lot and definitely shape my love and interest in editorial and print design. We worked on developing the publication from scratch and I learnt about the many steps involved in the conceptual, design and print process. It also marked the beginning of my life as a professional designer. I went on to design several publications including: Medio Informativo (architectural publication for Venezuela’s Central University) and more recently Gopher Illustrated (ongoing project with business partners at our new Caracas-Austin based studio In-House International). Along the years I also developed a strong interest in logo design which goes hand in hand with my interest for typography. Other than that I just enjoy spending time with family, my two kids and my girlfriend. I am just trying to earn a decent living in a country where the annual inflation rate is around 30%.
2. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED IN GRAPHIC DESIGN?
I’ve been involved with graphic design since day one, my mother was studying graphic design in England where she met my father, who happened to be her teacher. Everything design related in our family home (during my time growing up) must without knowing it have had a strong influence on me. I have always been surrounded by visual stimulation since a very early age. This includes collecting stamps, watching my dad build model airplanes and ships, drawing, constructing lego, you name it. I’ve wanted to be a graphic designer, or something of the sort, ever since I can recall. Later as a teenage, skateboarding and music would be a major influence in my life. All those awesome decks and album covers are certainly something I’ve always remembered. At school I was quite good at geometry, not so much at art, I guess that reflects a lot on the branches of design I chose to pursue.
Poster design for El Súper Cartel, an expo Alex was invited to in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
3. DO YOU FEEL ANYTHING PARTICULAR HAS HAD A MAJOR INFLUENCE OVER THE WAY YOU WORK?
I couldn’t say one specific thing has had a major influence, however a collective of small things over the years have shaped my creativity. Whether this is what I learnt at school, or the tips given from other designers I have been fortunate enough to work with. I guess having a family and kids and working from home has been a big influence too, certainly a boot camp in time management!
4. YOU CAN CLEARLY SEE YOUR WORK IS TYPE INFLUENCED, HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?
I was lucky enough to have some awesome typography teachers in design school (Gabriella Fontanilla and Carlos Rodríguez), I loved their class! They were always so adamant in viewing type as graphic images and not just (but also as) readable letters. They’re probably responsible, among others, for my foundation in type design. I really love the attention to detail involved, the manic relationship between positive and negative space. Now that I come think of it I’m quite crazy about old school storefront signs, prior to when they all started being generic back-lit pieces of plastic. I’m always on the look out for DIY hand painted signs, specially when traveling through rural roads outside the capital at food stands. They’re so straight-forward, there’s a beauty in them not trying too hard, or not trying at all! Don’t know, I guess you have to have a certain personality to pursue this field, maybe a little bit of obsessive compulsiveness going on.
‘Not A Big Small Talker’ is a hand drawn t-shirt design Alex created for Threadless
5. DO YOU FEEL TYPOGRAPHY AS AN ASPECT OF DESIGN IS BECOMING EVER MORE IMPORTANT FOR DESIGNERS?
I feel it’s important and it always has been, typography will always be around regardless of the trends or styles that are out there pushing information and/or selling products, it’s how we make our languages visible. With the introduction of computers everybody has access to type design, whether they received any formal preparation or not, and that results in some very poor type work. You see so many pieces out there with zero attention to the basics, with the kerning all over the place. On the other hand I think that computers have also broken down the limitations typographers may have faced back in the day. You also see amazing mind-blowing work that would have never been possible with the few tools they had available. I guess the key is in creating a font-culture for good/correct use of typography among designers and clients alike.
6. WHAT PROCESS DO YOU GO THROUGH WHEN GENERATING NEW IDEAS?
It’s hard to tell, I don’t think I can specifically pinpoint the process. Once I have an idea floating around in my head I’ll start sketching, if it’s something very geometrical (which usually happens to be my case) I’ll start throwing things together straight on the computer. I normally have quite a clear picture in my head of how I want it to look, but if it’s something a little more free and flowey I’ll probably start off with some hand-drawn sketches then scan them, clean them up and vectorize. The source of the ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere: music, the chaos on the streets, the beach, what my kids draw and say, the cartoons they watch, thinking in the shower, old packaging I find laying around in my grandpa’s house.
Watch out for Alexander’s Exclusive Faces font coming very soon!