2016-09-08 In Friends
Curiosity: the Driving force for creativity — with David and Linda
Hi, we are David and Linda, a couple of Mediterranean creative folks! David is Portuguese and I am Greek, however we were both born in Luxembourg, a tiny country in the heart of Europe. We are still living and are based there, yet we are two big wanderlusters: we love to travel often and live as nomadically as possible, and have been doing so since we realized we could technically work from anywhere 🙂
Together, we run our own creative studio called Kinlake. It represents our business but also our pursuit of a lifestyle full of creative explorations and experiments. We both have a background in graphic design but we don’t like to see our capacities limited to this alone, as we have always loved to be creative and innovative with anything. We love to use this as an opportunity to work with people in a holistic way. We particularly love to work together with adventurous clients such as small businesses and entrepreneurial people like makers, creatives and bloggers and we offer services such as branding, graphic & web design as well as photography, videography, illustration and many more. This just leaves us a lot of room to explore and to make awesome stuff together with the people that we work with! It also helps to create great relationships with our clients as they tend to see us as their longterm creative “sidekicks” and not just another agency on a single mission.
When we are not working, we love to document our lives and use up more creativity for personal projects. We love to blog often and we use our blog as a place to share our discoveries, little insights into what we do, the struggles and highlights of our lives, as well as useful tips & advice for like-minded creative people 🙂
Why and how did you get into design?
David: I remember as a child having many phases with particular toys. Probably LEGO had a phase of more than 50% of my time but I could also play with pretty much anything. At the age of seven I started with music, playing a few instruments. I guess that my creativity allowed me to never really get bored, even at a restaurant with adults, I would just find something to do with a piece of paper and no crayons. Playing around with stuff was a huge part of my life and I had the perfect partner for that, my brother who is 3 years older. He also pretty much convinced me to not follow his direction in high school into Informatics and all this IT stuff, but rather try to get into the art section of the same high school. For me the question was really kind of last minute and say “yeah, why not”. First I was really scared about what I was putting myself into, but after only a few weeks, I knew that this was exactly what my life should be about.
Linda: Creativity has always been a part of my life in different ways. During my childhood, I was the introverted one who always liked to hide away and draw, and when I was a teenager I was doing some mean collages (representing things I hated in society, haha!). I knew I wanted to do something creative with my life but I wasn’t sure what exactly. For years I thought I’d end up as a comic artist or a painter or something like that, but just before finishing school I found out about graphic design and I thought, well, why not learn more about that? It was a good choice as it offered me a great base that I could combine with my obsession for drawing and become a designer/illustrator type later on. Design really awakened me about how the world works and actually turned me into an extrovert that loves to connect with people. People are a huge part of this job and I love how design can be something so custom. It’s like problem-solving in a way: every project requires some study, and you have to know what you are dealing with!
How long have you been a designer and what tools do you use?
Linda: David has been a designer for 11 years and I have been for about 3 years (I’m a little younger, lol).
The tools that we use for our design work are pretty simple and our setup can be easily made portable! We mainly have our laptops or desktop computers with design software on them (Adobe), but then we also find it important to have some tools for sketching ideas, so we always hang out with a little notebook or something like that. For my illustration and hand-lettering work I also like to use a larger sketchbook or drawing sheets as well as some basic tools (brushes, ink, pens in different thicknesses). I use a scanner to import my drawings when I want to digitize and work on them, as I usually do some finishing touches and create compositions on my computer. David and I like to use a printer to test out the sizes of our designs when needed, so we have a scanner/printer at home and are thinking of getting a portable version (of the scanner at least) for when we are travelling!
David also has some gear that he likes to use for all the photography & videography we do. We have two cameras, a Go Pro and some accessories such as a steady cam, a tripod, a small set of reflectors, and basic lenses. Our photography is mostly shot on a 50 mm fixed lens and our videos are shot on a 24–105 mm. We mostly shoot lifestyle, portrait, food and documentary-style footage. For all of this, we have a preference for natural shots and we love shooting in daylight, so thankfully, our setup doesn’t require us to get anything too complicated that needs to be done in a photo studio or anything like that 🙂
Aside from those creative tools, we are also quite geeky with tools that help us run our business and be more productive. Even if we have a creative business, not all of our time is spent doing creative stuff …we do have to waste some time doing the boring admin things as well! To help us make this less dreadful and more fun, we are always on the lookout for apps that help us track time, manage our finances, get organized and schedule stuff. It’s a learning curve!
What’s the toughest challenge you’ve both faced as designers?
Linda: As we mentioned before, our job requires us to deal with people. One thing we are pretty happy about is that we have managed to structure our business and represent ourselves in a way that “should” only attract people that are like-minded, within our interest and that would trust us for what we can offer them. We do find this very important and we’d rather decline a project than work for something or someone who doesn’t inspire us… and it works!
However, as much as this helps to get projects that are within our interest, it cannot predict how the project relationship will turn out, even with someone who seems very like-minded to you and very trustful. Sometimes people are picky and compromises have to be made – this can be a bit hard to accept when you have created something that you believe in and that you think is absolutely right for the context. Or, outside of design, more in terms of management: maybe that person is not as organized as you are and the project takes ages to finish despite the clear project calendar… (we are a small team so these things can really mess up our workflow).
But these things are totally usual in our job, we even laugh about them with fellow designers we know! Thankfully, we are positive-minded and we generally don’t let these little hiccups ruin relationships or the love for the project itself. And besides… they don’t happen often.
Any designers you lookup to? Why?
Linda and David: There are people who inspire us greatly but those folks are not only designers. We are inspired by lots of people who have found something interesting to do in their lives or have found an interesting way to live it: artists, creatives, makers, minimalists, nomads of all kinds… Although we are into design, meeting someone special like that is more inspiring to us than attending a design conference 🙂
“Curiosity is the foundation of creativity”
Are you working on any personal projects you’d like share?
Linda and David: Oh yes! We always have something cooking 😉
Linda:Personally, I pursue illustration experiments during my free time and sometimes like to post them on our blog. I love how it offers me a platform to do that and it gives me the little push I need to just try things out. Similarly, David is usually working on personal photographic and videographic experiments, one of them being a short film which we’re going to release soon about a sourdough bakery we visited in Somerset, UK.
Linda and David:We generally like to absorb all the inspiration we can from things that we see and experience,and turn them into projects that allow us to broaden our skills and test our creativity. It’s not always easy to make time for that but it’s really important as it allows you to evolve as a creative and gain a deeper understanding of how your creativity gets pulled together!
Do you have a favorite workspace outside of home and corporate offices?
Linda and David: Oh yes! Sometimes it does get boring to work from home (or from our airbnb when we are abroad/travelling) so we love to get out and make our office a portable, on-the-go thing. The dynamic atmosphere of coffeeshops is something that we adore, for example. In Luxembourg, we have a favourite spot called Ready Coffeeshop. The best part: we did some design work for this place, and through this, the owners went from being our clients to being our best friends, so now this place truly feels like a second home and we know there’s always a table there for us!
Whenever we travel, especially if we are in a interesting city, we like to do some research and find where those nice independent coffeeshops are. There’s always something special about opening your laptop in a inspiring place where there are lovely people and good coffee. And homemade cakes… 😉
If we are going into destinations that seem to be quite popular with digital nomads, we also like to look for co-working spaces, as they can be great places to get productive and meet like-minded people from all over the world. We are thinking of going to Indonesia later on this year (if our situation allows) – the “Hubud” coworking space has been on our radar 🙂
What advice would you give a novice in design?
Linda and David: The cool thing with design is that design skills can be self-taught, but of course this involves true commitment and interest. The most important thing in all creative fields is to be curious. Curiosity is the foundation of creativity, and in order to be curious you have to be humble and thirsty to learn and to experiment! The idea is to never stop learning and questioning things, so that you can grasp what it is that makes you “tick” and what doesn’t. This is what will then help you find your style and your way of doing things. It is something that should be different with everyone as we are all unique. Of course, in the design field, it is good to keep an eye on trends and to have a feel for what typically works and what doesn’t (rules of composition & aesthetics). But what will make you shine (and have fun) as a creative and as a designer is finding your own path. Making your own rules …and, knowing when to break them!
Additionally, curiosity as a driving force for creativity is an excellent point; what are examples of moments where you (and David) used your curiosity (for something) and translated that through a creative outlet?
Linda and David: Woah, there are so many examples of this happening! If curiosity doesn’t always translate into a creative outlet, it translates into thoughts and ideas, and this is happening to us every single day. Lately, I’ve had a growing obsession about plants (no pun intended, haha!!). For some reason, I loved to look at them, notice their shapes and colors, so I listened to my intuition and I started collecting them. I drew them in different ways in my sketchbook, and then I also decided to scan them, see what I could make out of that. I created a few illustrations and artworks in this way and some of them can be found on our blog! Being curious is also what made me get into hand-lettering. I never thought it would be a skill I’d evolve in but then I started wondering how I could make something out of my handwriting and what exactly would turn that into letterforms that are elegant and beautiful like in the good old days when calligraphy was a thing. Curiosity is what drives you to just try things out, again and again.
David has a lot of this curiosity, and it’s often accompanied with a motivation to solve problems which is something that I admire. If he gets inspired by something and wants to try it out, he doesn’t see boundaries and just does it, with no boundaries in mind. And if there are any, he gets past them with an insatiable thirst to learn. This is how he learned web design, photography, videography and many other creative skills all by himself, without following any classes and just trying things out.
Curiosity is also what is allowing us to live a life that is true to ourselves and gradually free of any fears or conventions.
The curiosity that we’ve had towards tiny houses and minimal living, for example, has driven us to make our lives simpler and to wonder how many more things we could keep simplifying, so that we can allow ourselves to live even more freely and to let our priorities shine through (travelling more, creating more, accumulating experiences instead of things).
You mentioned being on the lookout for apps that will help you run your business smoothly (in terms of time efficiency, managing time, etc.) What are some of the best apps that you’ve come across?
We’ve been spending quite some time researching, testing and comparing but so far these are the tools that we love:
- Calendly has made scheduling so much easier, as it helps us avoid sending emails back and forth to fix a date for a meeting and lets our clients/collaborators choose a time that suits them in our calendar!
- Paymo is a tool that has revolutionized our project overview. It is a cross-platform app that allows us to track time/budget for every project we have. As our business is service-based, it’s important for us to keep track of the time we are spending on projects.
- As we are travelling often and can be on different time zones than our clients while answering emails, we like to use Mailbutler which is an email add-on that allows us to schedule emails to be sent at a certain time – pretty awesome. Clients never have to receive an email at 2AM anymore 😉
Other more common tools that we use are:
- Dropbox to store our files and work on the cloud
- Dropbox Paper which is super intuitive and an awesome tool for brainstorming together
- iCal to schedule our days. We usually divide our day into two “work sessions” and spread our tasks in there, but we also add in our personal activities, such as yoga, music, cooking… You need to make time for things that are important to you, so seeing them properly planned in a calendar makes it that much easier.
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