For April’s featured member article, we spoke to talented designer, illustrator, and letterer, Bobby Haiqalsyah. Originally born in Indonesia, now based in Melbourne, Australia, Bobby successfully combines the vibrant styles of his homeland’s culture, with the design education that he had received growing up in Australia. Together, Bobby can do anything.
Tell us about yourself: your background, your design style who you are and how you’ve come to be.
I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and moved to Australia in my mid-teens for family reasons. My early fascinations were in comic books and through that I learned the words “graphic design, ” because some of the comic book artists that I looked up to had studied design, as comic focused schools weren’t readily available at their time. After studying design in high school and college, I sort of left comics behind and become more interested in how design impacted the world that we live in.
I think the aesthetic that I try to create is a combination of my cultural background and my education; the traditional art of South East Asia is very vibrant, decorative, colorful, and intricate. Indonesia is also a predominantly Moslem country, so Islamic art which has the three main pillars of scripture, calligraphy, and arabesque or ornamentation, is easy to find. Those components helped form my taste, and through my education, illustration and typography really grabbed my interest. Why the two? Because I felt like they were two opposite spectrums in visual communication, as I read in the book “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud. In this book, there’s a passage about how “words [are] the ultimate abstraction, ” which made an impression on me. What I took from that, is that as much as a picture paints a thousand words, a word can be a multitude of things depending on the person... For example, a word like “bird” can be anything from a penguin, to a chicken, to an eagle, depending on the storyteller, the audience, and the context.
Anyways, that was a bit of tangent I was pursuing an interest of type and illustration, in order to discover the rich traditions of disciplines and practices that have gone on for centuries. Finally, I found that that vintage style resonated with my aesthetic, because in that period, a lot of the lettering, visual elements, and styling was so reminiscent of the traditional art that I grew up with. So, I’ve been playing around with that look and feel for a while now.
What makes you different from other designers? What about your work stands out from the rest?
I think my background, as I’ve mentioned, is already something different compared to most. The opportunity to marry Eastern aesthetic with a Western discipline feels right to someone with my background, and it gives me a sense of peace about where I came from and where I am now. Instead of forcing my cultural background on my audience, I meet them halfway with the visual language that I use. As to how my work stands out, I don’t quite know, as I like to be under the radar personally. If my work speaks for itself and screams for attention, then I’m happy about that, because I like to create something that is epic, (specifically talking about my illustration and lettering work).
When did you know a career in design was right for you? What about design were you drawn to?
I believe I was 14 when I decided to go into design, without knowing exactly what being a designer meant. What I like about the profession is that we designers are not only visual communicators, but we’re also problem solvers; be it on a canvas or in everyday life, we have the opportunity to improve life, or in a small way change a person’s mood.
What work or works are you most satisfied with?
A lot of the work that I have immense pride with are the difficult ones the ones that sounded crazy but you somehow figured out how to pull them off.
How would you break down your workflow in steps?
- Long discussions with the client
- Research the market and the competitors
- Visual research
- Trial and Error
- Repeat until you reach a satisfactory result
What are the most important lessons you have learned in all your years as a designer?
I hope this makes sense but the “lineage, ” was the most important lesson or thing that I have learned and respected. Design comes from a long line of very talented people. I have learned to be aware of them and to recognize what they have done, but more importantly I have noticed how they’ve impacted the people that are working as designers now. A sound respect of the past will give you a firm understanding of how things work in the present, and if you’re astute enough, you might be able to see the patterns that may show up in the future.
What was the last thing that made you say, “Wow” and why? Who are your designer heroes?
I think every time I look at Instagram, when the people that I look up post anything, I am wowed. There’s a lot to of accounts to mention, but I have to say it’s important to know who their heroes are, because you can then understand how and why they made their design decisions. We all want to emulate our heroes, but instead of copying, I encourage people to dig deeper than what you are seeing in their designs. Hopefully, in that process you can make your own decisions and create something that is originally and truly yours. Some people that I look up to are Jordan Metcalf, Like Minded Studio, Luke Lucas, Travis Price, Andre Beato, Louise Filli, Herb Lubalin, to name a few.
What/Who would be a dream project/client for you?
I think the usual suspects are always in everyone’s (and my) mind, the leaders of industry that we aspire to work for, so nothing original there. However, I’d like to be involved in making a video game in some creative fashion.
What are your hobbies? Is there something about you, your life or your past that would surprise us?
Well I play video games in my free time, I’ve spent over a decade in martial arts, and I worked as a chef for over 5 years before focusing myself in design.
What is your definition of success? What advice would you give to other designers?
Success is such a fleeting thing, I liked Deepak Chopra’s tweet, “Pursue Excellence, Ignore Success. ” I fear stagnation and mediocrity in myself and in my work. However, if I can live my life without worry and I can look after those I care about, I think I would be very satisfied with how things turned out. As for advice, well this career as well as any career is a long road There will be sacrifices and tears, but resilience pays off, self-improvement pays off, taking challenges pays off, and above all, building a community to improve the life and outlook of those around you pays off. When you are lost and misguided, trust the fact that you know a little bit more than yesterday, and because of this, you can improve your life today from yesterday.
To see the collection of logos that Bobby Haiqalsyah has uploaded to the Lounge, simply click here. To view the rest of his work, you can visit his professional website here. Stay tuned this May, as we bring another designer superstar to the LogoLounge “Center Stage.”