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Krista Radoeva

Type and Graphic Designer

Development sketches of my graduation typeface Amanita

Primary design concentration:

Typeface Design

Most preferred tools for designing:

Pilot Parallel pens, Tracing paper, Various black markers,
Huge amounts of correction fluid, Robofont

Sketches for a layered typeface for an exclusive type design project

How and why did you choose to become a designer?

I wish I had this amazing story of how I wanted to become a designer all my life, but that isn’t the case. I grew up in Bulgaria, I had a Classical education, including history, philosophy, mythology, literature, Latin, Ancient Greek and Old Church Slavonic. I enjoyed drawing and doing things by hand, but it used to be more of a hobby. I was always interested in research and writing. At the same time, I really felt the need to transform all that dry work into something visual. So I chose to explore these themes in my studies and work as a Graphic Designer, and later on, as a Typeface Designer.

Spread from a sketchbook, exploring the rich history of ornamented type and lettering

What are some of the challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them?

Certainly there isn’t anything more challenging for me than dealing with clients. But it is very easy to put the blame on the client, call them ignorant, give up on your ideas, and end up with a project that neither side is satisfied with. The truth is that you can’t expect a client to simply trust you and leave you to do whatever you want. You need to be able to explain and persuade, to make the client understand and feel like they are a part of the process. Nearly half of my time is invested in talking, writing, presenting. In most cases, it works—both sides make compromises, and they are also pleased with the results at the end.

What is your definition of an “elegant solution,” that is, good design?

In recent years, there has been a tendency for designers to create ambiguous, conceptual work, making it hard to draw a line between design and art. On the other side, there is the tendency to produce beautiful, eye-catching work, which grabs attention for a second, but doesn’t have any meaning and depth. Good design finds a balance between both—it is a complex idea that is represented with clarity. It has the visual appeal to catch your attention, the simplicity to represent an idea clearly, and the intelligence to communicate on different levels.

Work in progress on an ongoing revival project

From skills to values, what makes a designer successful?

Skills are irrelevant—given the time, you can learn almost any skill. Values are different—they’re not something that can be taught. A successful designer needs to have strong beliefs, not only within the bubble of their own discipline, but for the world that surrounds them. Be informed, be curious.

How do you stay motivated and grow personally and professionally as a designer?

I’m a perfectionist—I still haven’t quite decided whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage in terms of my profession. I am never satisfied with my work, and that is what drives me to continue working. I have embraced the process of thinking by doing: never stop sketching, experimenting, refining. Having a workflow that I enjoy, and an obsession with letters, are what gives me fulfilment at the end of the day.

For those aspiring to become a designer, whatever the discipline, what is your advice?

Don’t strive for success! Many designers become obsessed with gaining popularity and recognition in the design world, which often results in trying to create work that would be appreciated by other designers and following trends. To me, a successful designer is somebody that has a personal voice, a unique perspective, a recognisable style. If you find that, you will, no doubt, be good at it.

What is your quest in design, from a professional practice, education or evolution standpoint?

Just to be able to continue doing what I love to do, and be able to make a living out of it. Also, make time for personal projects and personal life—I seem to always put these on hold.

Krista Radoeva received the 2014 Catalyst Award by the Society of Typographic Aficionados, who presents TypeCon2014.

Images courtesy of Krista Radoeva.

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