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Kai Isselhorst is a professionally taught designer from Germany. Kai has an amazing knack from drawing inspiration from art, design, as well as music, and his natural surroundings. Kai explains how he started out as a graffiti artist and then evolved into what we see him as today; an interesting and talented designer.

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.

Hi, My Name is Kai Isselhorst and I’m an Illustrator and Designer from Dinslaken, Germany. I have been a Graffiti and traditional artist since the age of 10. I went tagging and did murals with friends back in the day. I was quite astonished by the whole Writing scene at that time, and I wanted to do this as well. That’s where it all started.

When I was sixteen I went to vocational school to get my high school degree with a strong focus on Design. Currently I’m a state approved Design Assistant and Communication Design student. Currently, I’m searching for employment at an agency to get into working professionally as a designer.

2. In your opinion do you think formal training from a school is better than being trained on your own by practicing? And which path would you recommend to someone who wants to be a graphic designer?

That depends. Some individuals are able to adapt to everything and learn from it. I know some Designers who chose to go the straight forward way without any proper education and are able to deal with it in work life. Most of the time, these people have a sparkling personality and a lot of motivation to learn and evolve their skill sets. The dark side of the medal is that those people lack in theoretic parts.

It's a big plus to learn within a group of people and sharing advice from teachers or Professors. You can grab other viewpoints and come away with a lot of experience you couldn’t gain as a self taught individual. It’s impossible to tell somebody to go one way or another of course. As for my part I chose a way in between, because I don’t believe in black or white; I believe in shades of grey. I went to school and College to gain the experience I’m talking about.

On the other side I never focused too much on it and made everything my own way. Until now, this worked fine for me. Even without having my Diploma I’m getting invitations to work for agencies outside of my country. I think that handling your own education differs from person to person and its personal pleasure how to work and live.

3. When it comes to inspiration everyone draws theirs from a unique area. Where do you find yours?

During the times I went down to school I spent a lot of time getting to know other designers and tried do adapt to what I thought was appealing. Though I always tried to give it some of my own soul, but it consists of taking and giving. And it’s really easy these days. There has been a huge explosion of social network communities during the last years, which can give you quick access to anything you are currently up for.

For me in the past couple of months I know I have seen enough because I start to feel that there’s not much left which can amaze me as it did before. I started collecting old publications, getting to know different kind of music, visiting a lot more exhibitions and search for inspiration in my everyday life (just to name a few). I’m trying to get away from the rest but keep it in the backyard of my mind to use this as knowledge if necessary.

I do find inspiration in everything that surrounds me, normally. At this moment I listen to a lot of Post Rock and ambient music which is pushing me a lot when thinking of dreamscapes.

4. Designs like "ANNA

and "Alter Ego

are refreshingly unique and abstract. What exactly draws you to this style? And with the incredible amount of possibilities that can come out of abstract art how do you know when your done? Do you already have a finished product in mind before starting?

I think the reason why I go with that kind of style is that my personal Illustrations are still some kind of vent for me. I’m a sensitive person which is why I feel that I am not able to control any of my chaotic experiences. Scientifically speaking, people handle those feelings while dreaming. But I don’t dream at night.

Sometimes I think it’s because I am able to turn the computer on, shut my brain off and just let everything flow. I believe my Illustrations supersede my dreams in one way or another. When doing abstract styles I don’t have a lot in mind before the process. At some point I just know that I have to stop. It’s normally the point I can’t get my creation any further and have to take a break. Then I rearrange some of the parts, add or subtract some layers, rethinking coloring and composition in a very technical and theoretic way to make sure it’s appealing.

5. What is the most important lesson you have learned since you started designing? And how do you apply it to your art now?

In my opinion, the most important lesson is how to learn without having limitations at any point. I’m still figuring out how to do this, and of course I will continue forever. In my opinion, this is a basic understanding as a creative designer since it’s what we do the whole day. It’s all about learning,adapting, and recreating.

Working as a Designer is a hard thing to do because you have to push your imagination further every single day. Having a large repertoire of Brain tools to incorporate in ones creations is the perfect way to make it a success. And of course, it's a fact that you never know enough of the software as well.

6. If you had to describe your exact style in a few words what would it be? And what techniques are essential for mastering this style?

Empathetically Neurotic abstractions with a dash of beauty? To master this style you will need to have abilities in creating, destroying and reconstructing compositions in a creative manner. Besides Photoshop, knowledge in Painting, vector, and 3-dimensional applications are advantages.

7. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?

It was a pleasure to answer your questions, and hopefully it was of interest for the readers. Everything you need is a bit of passion, fun, and patience! All the rest does time itself resolve. Thanks for reading!

Where to find Kai on the Web

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