I discovered Snask through the Beyonderground festival. Having a glance at their website, you can see how every project has its very own voice and how they manage to get the hugest outcome for each one. Here’s what they have to say!
Graphic design in Stockholm
In Barcelona, it’s been quite some time since people first talked about a notable decline regarding conditions and quality of graphic design and about how clients value our work. Do you have the same impression?
No I don’t. We are not afraid of the client and they consult us since we are experts at what we do. We have always strived to be the best, not in Sweden, Scandinavia or Europe but the world. That means we are very edgy at what we do, and being edgy makes clients value our work. When clients keep valuing our work they pay thereafter and that makes it possible for us to try and keep a high level of quality. I think there are a lot of things that are wrong with designers today. Many of them only focus on doing beautiful things but with no meaning. That’s art for me and yes, it’s very beautiful but if it doesn’t solve a problem for the paying client it will loose it’s meaning as graphic design. Another thing I notice is that surprisingly a lot of male designers keep being macho in their work. They draw naked bodies or post naked women in their social media channels with comments such as “I love women” or “I love the female body”. What’s the meaning of that? Is it that they so deeply want and need to express this to everyone around them? Or is it that they are simply very macho and conservative in their view of gender? I think that if graphic designers starts to become hipsters with no sense of politics or views to stand up for and only do things that look beautiful, then we have a creative industry full of designers that will create nothing but a devaluation of their work. Now, I don’t mean the macho designers are the reason for a notable decline, I just see it as one of many signs of a watered down industry.
I think we like to say that we do design, branding and film. But at the same time we call ourselves a Creative Agency. Why? Because clearly we’re idiots who can’t make up our mind. No, but I think that in the term of branding there are a lot of strategy which is then transformed into design. Now design can be made onto an unlimited amount of units such as logotype, stationary, website, packaging, stamp, products, etc.
However there are areas where we never set our foot. We never do code here for example. But we are definitely not a “full service agency”. In our point of view that only means you’re not good at anything.
Would you like to be a Decathlon who are fair enough at 10 different events or would you rather be Usain Bolt or Marit Björgen, the best at what you do in the entire world?
Do you work mainly for the same clients or do you get selected assignments?
We do work long term with our customers but we also get a lot of selected assignments. I guess the door in is being selected to do one assignment and then you have to deliver so great that it becomes a long term relation. We always do everything in our power to create lifelong romances in work as well as in private life.
Do you hunt for clients or do clients contact you?
We do hunt for clients in various ways. Mostly by emailing CEO’s who we think should care more about their brand. But we are mostly approached by clients themselves. Most often their creative team wants to work with Snask and so their project managers have to call us up, having no clue who we are.
Do you follow a commercial sales or a customer fidelity strategy?
No, we don’t have a strategy that we call Customer Fidelity, but as I said we work for lifelong romances. That means we want to have a very personal and down-to-earth relationship with every client. It also means we deliver the highest level of quality that we find possible.
“By trying the impossible one should reach the highest grade of the possible” August Strindberg 1894.
How many designs do you usually suggest to a client?
One. We are designers and we do what we believe is the right thing. We work with the client along the way since they know more about their brand and problems than we do. But we are the experts at what we do, branding and design. If the client have an issue with different decisions we can show them different routes to take, just to make them realize that we are taking the right way. But we don’t just do something because it’s beautiful, but on the other hand it doesn’t mean we choose colors based on bullshit like the meaning of colors and such. Those theories are long dated. Red is a warning color, yet no one is afraid of Coca Cola or Christmas. A color can be warmer or colder in terms of how we see temperature but nothing more than that. For upperclass men it’s fine to wear the color pink on your upper body, but god forbid if you would wear pink pants, a pink hat or pink shoes. It’s all constructed BS which is all easily changed with time, trends and by not caring about it at all.
Style & trends
Does a graphic designer need to have his own style or, for example, they have to follow the trends? Should a design be timeless, open for evolution or rather be adapted to the trends?
No, not at all. But it’s of course impossible to not get influenced by the world around you. And to struggle to not take in your environment feels harmful and conservative. I think there’s no real answer to this. It also depends on different type of work. An identity don’t really have to be timeless but have to at least last for 10 years, if it lasts for longer it’s timeless of course haha. But I would say any brand should be open for evolution. Not sure design should adapt to trends but then again what came first?
So would you say that Stockholm is innovative, has its own style or just copying designs that already exist?
I think we copy a lot of other styles but that goes for the whole world. But I think what makes people unique is to create your own version of a style. Stockholm and Scandinavia in general is innovative in many ways but sometimes designers dwell in the minimalist heritage too much. Many believe that they do Scandinavian design but there are minimalists all over the world. Switzerland and Netherlands to name to other big countries of minimalistic graphic design. We love to build things by hand as well as creating bold and colourful design. So of course that comes through in our work. Our industry is extremely conservative however. We don’t even have a design industry in Sweden. For some fucked up reason we belong to the Advertisement Industry.
Do you know about graphic design in Barcelona? Do you think it has its own style?
I do! There are so many great designers there. I do think there are a lot of very illustrative designers there. But it also feels like you have a very young creative scene which we love. The old world created hierarchies and conservative structures. Young people don’t want to live in these. So we create our own world. Why? Because at the age of 12 we knew more than our parents about computers. Now those 12 year olds are closer to 30 and start competing with older generations for jobs. To then be forced into a conservative structure, based on the older you are the better you are and more you know, is very destructive and we choose to go our own way. So many young people live in the 21st century in private life with technology and life in general. But then they go to work where they have to work in structures, methods and hierarchies as well as technology that belong to the 20th century. They can’t wait to finish their job at five and get back to living their 21st century life.
To answer your question since I raged away on conservatism I would say that a city really can’t have their own style, even though it feels like Barcelonian city patriots will hate me for this. When it comes to inspiration and culture we don’t get it from a geographical place but rather from everywhere which includes online. Online is inspiration from all over the world. To choose not to take inspiration from the world is nothing else than fucking boring.
The designer of the future
Does the profession of graphic design need a facelift? What could we improve?
Yes. More designers have to have opinions and stand up for them, and no, I don’t mean opinions about design. I mean politics. The more it is about just making something beautiful the uglier it gets. Whether you like it or not we are all citizens of the world and we have to care for it. Another thing we can improve is to no lick upwards and kick downwards. We have to help younger designers up and keep nurturing such a culture. If not they will eventually succeed us and start hating us and of course rebel against us. Today I hear a lot of students telling me stories of designers telling them how hard it is to become as good as they have become. I think it’s bullshit and that established designers should do the opposite, bring down their guard and encourage students instead. Telling them how lucky they were to land an internship here or there or how they knew a friend of a friend who gave them their first job in the industry, etc.
With the boom of digital marketing and its focus on quantifiable results, many companies decide to raise their budget for this kind of service. How do you explain to your clients the benefits from investing in graphic design?
If the client doesn’t know the benefits of investing in graphic design you have a big problem already. Apple didn’t succeed because they managed to convince their CEO that great designed products will sell because their founder already knew this. With a real branding you solve problems with how you appear to many different groups. With a graphic identity you make sure you are perceived in a clear way that you then can start to fill with values inside the head of a customer. I think it’s easier today since we live in a digital world and most digital services understand the importance of design. If your brand looks worse than an app then you are in trouble.
Should we make changes to the academic career of a graphic designer in schools and if so, which?
Yes. Design education should teach the importance of being a graphic designer along with the responsibilities that comes with the job. You are the person making sure a message will come across from a sender to a receiver. If the message is bad, false or corrupt you are responsible by designing it. You can choose to make it great so that it really gets through and into the mind of the receiver, you can choose not to do it at all or you can choose to not do it and instead work for the opposite. Every education in graphic design that don’t talk about street art, Banksy, Shepard Fairey and such, are not worthy to teach at all.
Software? Fuck that. That’s something everyone can learn and it’s simply a tool. If you really want to become a graphic designer you can teach yourself really fast with online tutorials. The other parts are much more important like theory named above as well as typography, composition, etc etc.