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6 September 11

Fabien Barral: When design just happen!

Under - Art, Design, Illustration, Inspiration, Media, Typography

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…

11 thoughts to “Fabien Barral: When design just happen!”

  1. Andrey SHCH

    September 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    site and art, the best !

  2. Miguel Reyes

    September 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Great interview and very inspiring.

  3. Tony

    September 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Amazing work, this inspires me to no end, I too cannot draw to save my life, thanks to the computer and programs like Photoshop and Illustrator I can express myself in ways I could not through traditional mediums.

  4. Gina

    September 11, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Wowww!! I love your work, it`s awsome, congratulations. I`m designer too and your work inspires me, thanks from Mexico

  5. Franco

    September 22, 2010 at 2:26 pm


  6. Alessandro

    September 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm


  7. Denis

    November 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    … И узрел Охломон, что сие есть круть несусветная…

    Friends, your graphic design is one of the best in net.

  8. Linda Schenck

    December 31, 2010 at 8:24 pm


  9. raymonde

    February 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Félicitations !!!! ..
    votre blog est d’une grande beauté..
    un plaisir pour moi de visionner tant de choses merveilleuse …
    ça me fascine… Bonne journée ~~~

  10. elody

    December 3, 2011 at 1:32 am
  11. Isobel Stratford

    January 9, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    As a student working towards my A Levels (working towards an A Level in Graphic Art and hoping to go into Graphic Design) I’m using your work as my inspiration and influence….your work is beautiful. I love the use of ink and watercolour that runs, flowing consistently throughout your pieces and the colours interspersing with the calligraphy. I love the general old, rustic feel and the ability to still produce all kinds of different work for a number of different situations and clients …but remaining to focus on your own individual style.
    …Every piece is unique and interesting.
    I just wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed working using your approaches and I hope to return to your website and continue to see new and amazing art.

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