Branding & Editorial design
Undercast is a full-service graphic design agency from Antwerp (Belgium). They say that they first listen, then speak and finally let the magic do the job. Here’s what they have to say!
Graphic design in Antwerp
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? And why?
There’s a notable tendency towards budgetary constraints and ever-shrinking deadlines that’s probably related to the global economic recession. The challenge is to be as creative as you can in dealing with this and to show clients the value of good graphic designs and communication by providing relevant references.
How do you work?
We’ve never aimed to specialize in a particular domain. Our focus has always been to provide the best possible method of communication and solutions that worked for all media.
We’re lucky enough to have excellent relationships with many of our clients. Those relationships generally form the basis for a long-standing creative process.
When we launched undercast, we actively looked for prospects, but nowadays clients come to us because they’re familiar with our projects. We don’t have any real strategy – or perhaps we do. Under-promise, over-deliver!
How many designs do you usually suggest to a client?
That depends, but usually as few as possible; two and three on occasion. Naturally our design process involves an extensive journey in which we explore various paths. We select the best solutions and present them to the client. Showing a client more than three proposals gives the impression you’re unsure and creates doubt about your design choices.
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?
You’re always a product of the times in which you live, and your style will always, directly or indirectly, be influenced by outside factors to some extent. The most important thing is for a style not to become a gimmick and for you to end up with superficial designs. The danger with trends is that form for the sake of form can take over and the objective and the communication become neglected, bad design…
So would you say that Antwerp is innovative, has its own style or just copying designs that already exist?
Antwerp is a creative place, with countless initiatives to encourage creative entrepreneurs, but saying there’s a true Antwerp style is a bridge too far.
Do you know about graphic design in Barcelona? Do you think it has its own style?
Quim Marin is an Art Director from Barcelona. I was first introduced to his work through Grain Edit. His designs are powerful, very pure and timeless, but I don’t think you can say it’s a typical Barcelona style. A possible candidate for OFF Barcelona.
The designer of the future
Does the profession of graphic design need a facelift? What could we improve?
The boundaries of where graphic design starts and ends is an interesting area – it’s one that could be explored more and that offers heaps of possibilities in many different domains.
Self-initiated projects (sometimes very much independent), where designers are both the commissioner and producer, take designers to new creative heights, transcending the limits of the classic graphic design.
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?
One benefit of digital marketing is indeed that pretty much everything can be measured in real time. That’s not necessarily a good thing for all sectors though, and the statistics also show disappointing results. The plethora of digital communication disappears simply because there’s too much information coming at us, being blocked by Ad blockers/ Spam etc.
A strong graphic design in classic print can make the difference, but we shouldn’t be under any illusions; print and digital need each other and should strengthen each other in the big picture of communication.
Should we make changes to the vocational training / academic career of a graphic designer in schools / universities, and if so, which?
I teach at the St Lucas School of Arts in Antwerp, an academic degree that puts a lot of focus on students developing their own artistic projects.
Specific bachelor’s and master’s classes teach them to find their own distinct style and brings them in touch with other disciplines. New insights that broaden the field and create new opportunities for young designers – that’s something any school would want in its program.