interview with graphic designer sasha vidakovic

designboom dec 09, 2014


sasha vidakovic was born in sarajevo, bosnia and herzegovina, where he studied visual communications at the academy of fine arts. after moving to london in 1991, he worked as a designer and creative director of some of the most renown international design and branding agencies. his career took him to milan, italy, where he was a creative director of another global branding agency for a number of years. returning to london, he established SVIDesign, an independent brand and design consultancy which applies a strategic and analytical approach in reaching creative design solutions. during belgrade design week 2014 he told designboom more about his work.

designboom: what originally made you want to become a designer?

sasha vidakovic: for as long as I remember, I have always been observing and sketching things around me. when I was young, I was very interested in graphic novels such as hal foster’s prince valiant, the heraldry of the knights of the round table, military uniforms, japanese army flags, crests etc. as I was pretty good at drawing and it came naturally to me, I didn’t think it was something to take seriously, that could be a ‘real’ profession – I thought I needed to ‘suffer’ in order to earn a living. therefore I went to study civil engineering – something difficult enough. and I almost made it – somehow I cracked mathematics and it became fun and creative. but I realised that I couldn’t express myself by using the same formulas in order to dig tunnels and build roads for the rest of my life, so I decided to return back to what I felt was already in me and gambled my way into the visual communication BA at the academy of fine arts in sarajevo (they only took six students per year). I still remember vividly the timetable on my first day – I couldn’t believe there were experts and subjects out there that could express my personal interests on so many levels – I felt I had entered eldorado and never looked back.


grazia shop packaging

DB: how would you describe your approach to design?

SV: perhaps because of that initial pragmatic engineering schooling, I need to address all rational aspects of the brief first – only then do I turn the conceptual, creative engines on and embark on a design journey as far as possible within those restraints. I feel very uncomfortable if I cannot give a specific reason why I have developed something, especially if it is a client who asks the question. in other words, I do believe in substance-before-style-form-follows-function-solution-is-within-the-problem type of approach…


directory covers

DB: who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

SV: moving from sarajevo to london.

DB: has anyone or anything recently challenged your views on graphic design?

SV: yup! – a randomly opened book, a wet leaf on the street, an accidentally ripped-off newspaper headline, my son’s drawings and my daughter’s colours, neon light reflecting in a puddle, leafless trees against the blue sky, the last project…


ivancic packaging

DB: what would you say is your strongest skill?

SV: making the complicated simple. maybe that goes back to my early days when I arrived in london, when my english was very poor and I had so much to say.

DB: what type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most?

SV: it’s always the client that makes a difference – not a type of a brief. some of my best projects came from clients who are open minded, intelligent and supportive.


moroso london graphic

DB: what are your thoughts on specialisation vs generalisation?

SV: specialisation within graphic design doesn’t appeal to me but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have respect for some specialists. as a designer, to specialise would mean to operate within a comfort zone, have one type of clients or use a particular visual style and apply it to whomever knocks on the door. I get a kick when I work with a team of academics on an interactive information graphics after delivering packaging for a sophisticated fashion label, then move on to create a brand for an investment company after doing a poster for a dance performance. maybe I am a bit of a design schizophrenic, or can’t say no to a brief, whatever… I love it this way.


claudia schiffer logo

DB: how do you think online design resources have influenced the graphic design being produced today?

SV: they have a huge influence – for better or worse. and those resources are not to be ignored. it is fantastically easier now to do research, find inspiration and show new work than ever before. but, on the other hand, it also contributes to the globalisation of design style: you can find plenty just-add-the-client’s-name identities and beautiful-but-dumb styling. like all things in life, it depends on how you use it, as a master or servant.


aid transparency index visual info graphics

DB: what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?

SV: it fascinates me how much I still love what I do.

DB: what are you passionate about besides your work?

SV: quality of life.


roundhouse gala visual identity

DB: do you have any superstitious beliefs or rules that you live by?

SV: if somebody is not good at giving a brief than he/she is not going to be good at getting design concepts – I usually stay away from these kind of clients; it’s a waste of everybody’s time.


dub visual identity

DB: what’s the best piece of advice you have heard?

SV: Simplify.


scott dunn visual identity

DB: what’s your personal motto?

SV: life is too short to wait for the green light.


andy butler

read the original on designboom.

It was great for xarchitekten to be invited to BDW as Austrian Architects We were expecting a great time by experiencing all this different thinking’s on design issues. At first there was the road movie from Vienna to Belgrade: 600 Kilometers of flat land, an immense impression of wideness - like riding on a green ocean. Arriving Belgrade we were hosted by the perfect Organization and accompanied by very nice people of BDW. The most valuable element of BDW´s Performing, Discussing, Lecturing in the Theater, Visiting the Clubs and Restaurants of Belgrade has been the linking excellent thinking and facing experts coming from different fields of design as well as different regions of Europe. xarchitekten are convinced about the great role of BDW as an Place for multidisciplinary Evolution, therefore BDW is facing a great future. Hopefully xarchitekten will be connected to BDW again.