Fabien Barral: When design just happen!
When you want to see art and graphic design together in perfect harmony, look at Fabien Barral’s work. Playful colours, intriguing textures, shapes and typography – it is refreshing, inspiring and very tastefully done. I wanted to learn about the person behind these amazing designs so I thought to ask Fabien a few questions.
First of all let’s talk about you, where are you based and everyday life?
I am Fabien Barral and I live in France. I used to work from my country house located in the middle of France for the past 8 years but moved back in the south last year… just to move again to another house last month because it is in the middle of an organic vineyard with a large garden. I can go to my daughter’s school by foot and have a larger office that I ever had! I am a freelance designer for almost 4 years now, before that I worked as an art director for 6 years in an agency.
You have a very distinct style which tells me that design is more than a job to you. Where it all started to become what it is now?
It has always been like that – it did not start, it was in my DNA. I never had any talent in drawing… just ask me something to simply reproduce with a pencil and it would look terrible!!! This was frustrating when I was a child, so I started cutting out magazines and do comps with them. My mother showed me those comps the other day, funny !! Later, I started playing with Xerox. Then computer came in my life and I could express myself… but not with computer alone, with all the images I liked and could get hold of in second hand book markets, things that could be textures, and made my images to look what they are. My wife Frédérique does amazing watercolours, textures and other shapes and stuff I use in my work… so yes, it is not a job, it is an everyday living philosophy.
Isn’t it tough to design for clients that have no ideas, preferences or any reference material? How do you translate such ‘requirements’ into something visually stunning such as ‘Miss… Terre en Anatolie’?
If a client is open minded and trust in you and your art, that’s ok… It works for me now, after years, because I have experience and can show a lot of other creations that define what people call a ‘style’ … for the Anatolie poster, it was for me simply. The client knew me, we did several projects together, and knew how to inspire me… she showed me some text that described the event, it was very unique, told me about a cabinet of curiosity, people would have animal heads in the street, theatre everywhere… and the ‘Terre’ of the title refer to the ‘earth’, so the round shape. Then my mind does the rest.
This image happened in a couple of hours, it was a rare creative moment of no hesitation… good design can be planned, great design just happen!
What sort of projects you really love to do?
Another sentence that I like to refer to: ‘The best designers are the ones who found the good clients’… With all the work I have done so far, people come to me because they like what I have done and want it to be applied to their projects… so, my favorits projects are the ones with a real exchange of views with clients, when they expect a lot from me and I know I will be at my best… we are not doing art, we are to serve a message, a company, so when a client think my creative ability can express their project in image, that’s the best…
That’s why I am happy as freelance designer, when you work in an agency, some clients come because they are friend with the boss, or the studio is in the same street of their office… and sometimes, even if your project is the best anybody can do, it can stay in the boxes because the client is not ready for it or have something else in mind…
What keeps you going (inspirations, food, life, family etc) ?
In design, other peoples projects… that’s why I give so much time to present what inspires me in my blog www.graphic-exchange.com. I need to have these amazing emotions that give you inspiration… and that’s why my blog have so much success sharing these emotions.
Other than that, my family is most important to me. I have to spend time with my wife and daughter to be good when I am working… they are the first I show my work to, and their point of view is more important than anybody else… they are my best fans too. Food ? I am a chocolate addict… it is too personal to me that I should do a blog about chocolate…