Last month we had the chance to be interviewed in the awesome Varoom Magazine! They asked us a few questions about our certificates project and we found it useful to put it here.
Let’s talk about SWINDLER & SWINDLER. A design duo so confident of their design and image-making skills that they brand themselves as con-artists. Is this what graphic design does? Is this the key ingredient of wellbeing, the trick of confidence? Are these feelings what we purchase when we buy that new pair of shoes? As the SWINDLERS tell us, “Who doesn’t dream to get a bit more self confidence, or to give someone else more honesty or empathy? And we find this idea fun! Our name comes from this project. If we are able to sell those certificates, then we are some sort of swindlers!”
But the swindle has a fragile beauty, an almost painful elegance in the couple’s dedication to their craft, “we cherished and also hated working on this paper because on the one hand it brings hardness and density to the project and on the other hand the paper fibre softly falls apart when you work on the same area for too long.” Isn’t that what happens to lovers?
The result are the certificates, the validations, the commercial endorsements of Indulgence, Wisdom, Self-respect, Empathy, Honesty – promises implicit in their brand.
A swindle? Perhaps. But what we are buying from them is the beautiful swindle of passion, love and creativity we call art.”
BRIEF: It was our first project together, for a Parisian exhibition, one year ago. At first we just wanted to make one certificate, then five, then we built up our studio and now we are working together.
MATERIALS: This work is entirely hand made. We used black Rotring pens which are technically calibrated pens used by old fashioned designers. They are really expensive, temperamental and fragile, but they’ve got that regu- lar line that no other pens have! Everything is drawn on Arches Paper 300gsm. We cherished and also hated work- ing on this paper because on the one hand it brings hard- ness and density to the project and on the other hand the paper bre softly falls apart when you work on the same area for too long. To avoid that with sketches we used layers. Just like Photoshop it allows us to complete ones sketch, going deeper in details, without damages.
Finally we also created the two stamps you can see on every certificate.
RESEARCH: We are truly fans of old stuff like ancient publicity campaigns, old billheads, 19th century typographies… so we wanted to recreate this sort of atmosphere in our work. Except that instead of representing money, we wanted to sell impalpable things. Who doesn’t dream to get a bit more of self confidence, or to give someone else more honesty or empathy. And we found this idea fun! Our name comes from this project. If we are able to sell those certificates, then we are some sort of swindlers!
PROCESS: At first we place the structure: oral elements, typography. What is going to stay for the whole project, what is going to change. Then here we go, just like a four hands concert.
We both work on each design, that means some organisation not to obstruct the other in his creation. So we usually started two certificates at the same time. It also permitted us to adjust the design if needed.
RESISTANCES: This project took us two months and the hardest part was not to be demotivated in front of the huge amount of work. We usually place a white sheet of paper under the sketch so as not to see the rest of it. Luckily we were two, and it helps not giving up!
INSIGHT: Working together is not easy but it also provides ideas, details, compositions you wouldn’t think of alone. It’s really rewarding! It shows us that we could create something great together. So we decided to create our own studio and go to this great adventure together.
DISTRACTIONS: Not so much, we nearly spent all the time with our noses in our work, even during the weekend. The walk of the day was to get some food at the supermarket. In Grenoble, where we live, we can see mountains, and nature is really helpful during this kind of work.
NUMBERS: More than 400 hours for each of us for this project of two months. Pretty the same amount in litres of coffee to stay awake late at night…
WELL: Passion, love, and coffee kept us going during this project. And of course our first exhibition at the end of the two assiduous months of work, it’s a good motivator!