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Inspiration

Maciej Hajnrich Interview

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Maciej Hajnrich, AKA Valp Nietylko, is a designer who embraces the merging of chaos and color. He has a great sense of free-flowing composition. Look at his work long enough, and your eyes will turn into shattered rainbows. Valp is a freelancer with the ability to create unique and stylish work while being grounded in a strong work ethic. He has some excellent advice to share with us about art, design, and business. Let's get on to the interview.

1. Welcome to Psdtuts+! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in the field.

Hello! I'm a 26-year-old graphic designer residing in Poland. I'm focused on print and digital design. I focus on illustration, CD covers, posters, and Web design. I also take a part in corporate identity projects.

I'm a self-taught designer. This shouldn't be surprising for readers because if you're visiting Psdtuts+, you want to learn more than a school can offer. Anyway, my passion in graphics started very naturally. Playing with Photoshop was something obvious for a boy who fell in love with computers, technology, and stuff like that.

I could say "I was drawing since I was a child," but who hasn't been? This was my hobby for several years. It became a big fascination and finally a profession. Meanwhile, for about three to four years I was an editor for several online and offline magazines. I wrote PC Console reviews, for example.

Pakarabanu | "Last Supper" | 12/2007

2. How would you describe your work, your style—your approach to design and illustration?

This is a very good question, you know! In practice, you have to ask yourself what are you going to do in a year or in ten years. Well, I always want to learn new things, techniques, reach new goals. I was never thinking of my style, you know. I didn't want a style that is recognizable at first view.

Looking back through my portfolio I see that I've had "periods" where I used a concrete technique. However, I always want to make comprehensive art, more or less abstract, always with the best typography and color choices. So this is my main goal—detailed, emotional illustrations. If you ask about style, I want to gain skills in a natural and spontaneous way.

R+TOUR 2006 - Pokahontaz | B2 posters | 4/2006

3. Could you tell us about your career? A favorite project you worked on? Toughest Project? Any current or future projects you'd like to share with us?

I started my career in July 2003 while I was studying IT for the third year. During these years, I was working in a few design agencies. I became art director for three years while freelancing simultaneously. Currently, I am working as a full-time freelancer. Hopefully, I will set up my own small studio in a year. In less than a month, I will launch a new project—so stay tuned.

You know, I love the projects I'm involved in! This may sound crazy, but I only take part in projects I like, and that's about 98 percent of the commissions I have. Am I original by saying I just love this job? ;-)And this doesn't mean every project is easy. The most demanding projects are for third-party clients. I mean clients of my clients, and it's often about really small things.

Anyway, one of my favorite projects is "Trust the Future." I made it quickly and never expected such a big and positive response from other designers and clients.

Trust the Future | Summer Solstice book by KDU & Proof7, photo by Katja de Bruijn—Govorushchenko | 8/2007

4. Tell us about the apps you use? How integral is Photoshop to your work? Any tips you'd like to share?

I'm keen on new software, so I always have to be updated with latest Adobe package. Photoshop CS3 is obviously my favorite app—almost every project starts and ends here. Illustrator and Painter (IX) are on the second position. Besides, them I work with Flash, GoLive, InDesign, ATM+MainType, MSN, Skype, Thunderbird, and more—all running on WinXP.

Tip: don't learn software you really don't connect with. If you're a good illustrator, you don't have to be a professional Actionscript coder.

Nu'Clear Affection #1:C'osmos | Semi-Competitive booklet, promo illustrations | 1/2007

5. Could you tell us about your process? What does your workflow look like?

Well, everything starts from mail or phone call :). But, no joke, every project has several stages. Depending on the brief, it may take more or less time. Usually, it starts from making previews or discussing the direction. But frequently clients give me a "free hand" and are waiting for my ideas.

Regarding my portfolio, or even other images on the Web, something like a mood board is also a very good place to start a project. Client expectations are important so I know what type of resources I will need. I need to know whether I should buy stock, scan images, or design them myself. I start the creative process after everything is clear and the schedule is set up.

Agencies need to receive work-in-progress updated on current projects. This allows them to keep track of what you are running with. But individual clients prefer to see final results. So keeping in touch, discussing details, as well as wearing headphones and working hard, are always part of the workflow.

Miloopa (PL) &Ã¥ Epoc (UK) —Louder Than Bombs | B2 poster | 11/2007

6. How do you come up with such great concepts and effects? Any tips on idea generation? Any tips on creating those cut up exploding colorful effects?

I'm not sure if there is any prescription for raising ideas, but I believe you can train your brain the same way as your body at the gym. I could say your worst enemy is time, which can control your creativity as nothing else. So managing your time and knowing how much you need to do your very best are important—if this is possible, and of course, often it isn't. I spread projects into smaller pieces and allow myself to take a rest. Don't design in a hurry and take a look at projects on another day.

Another thing is being open and experimenting. You may know how multiply will affect your layers, but if you don't try another option, your artwork will always look similar. I leave room for unexpected and spontaneous effects. It's the same with color, which needs lots of attention. It's always half of your image.

the Fuel (1) | Depthcore "Freestyle III" | 7/2007

7. Thank you for participating in this interview! Any final remarks?

Thanks, it was pleasure. I would like to say to all readers that being a designer is not about being the best; it's about being better. There is always something to learn so never stop exploring and experimenting. Be modest and patient—and practice, practice, practice.

Nu'Clear Affection #4 | Cyber#2/Lans Magazine, illustrations | 2/2007

Where to Find Maciej Hajnrich on the Web

Below you can find a selection of links to some of his portfolios, playgrounds, and Internet profiles.

Winter Espionage | for UCE Life Magazine, photo by Katja de Bruijn - Govorushchenko | 11/2007

Thank-you to Maciej Hajnrich, AKA Valp Nietylko, for participating in this interview. Your work is inspirational. The mixture of creative and practical advice you gave in this interview is helpful to our readers and much appreciated.

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