Andrew Kapish: Communication as an Art Form
22-year-old graphic designer Andrew Kapish lists Cartoon Network as his dream client but for the moment he’s working on his portfolio and managing a burgeoning career. Graphic designers are sometimes not viewed as artists but here we have a strong case to easily disprove such malarkey. Though Andrew is all the way over in Akron, Ohio (which he refers to as ‘sometimes sunny’), Youth Arts Online was able to talk to him about his work.
How did your passion for design develop?
When college begins, you’re dropped into a room where everyone has been voted ‘Most Artistic’ it’s suddenly not just you any more. That level playing field, that competition that’s what really excited me. You start learning about the history of this amazing craft, the structure of letter forms, layout, contrast, and colour and on top of all these principals, you begin exploring this monstrous new software and the experimentation begins. You find yourself hooked, and suddenly you’re seeing the world through the eyes of a cynical designer. When you’re in class you’re looking over your shoulder asking yourself “How can I top that?” And when you’re home you’re looking online and thinking to yourself “Holy crap! Is it even possible to top that?” It becomes a game. You’re constantly trying to figure out what’s working, and asking, “How can I use it?”. I became determined that I wanted to develop clever solutions. I want to make beautiful things for good people, and I want to get my hands dirty.
What is the most challenging part of your work?
As someone just starting their career, the biggest challenge is finding balance between real work and personal projects, time and money, and knowing when “good enough” is good enough and when its not. You want to make every piece your next big portfolio piece, but sometimes that’s just not in the cards. It’s a real battle between personal aesthetic, client needs, and self-confidence. Designers need be problem solvers first and artists second. In the end the client has to look right. Self-curation is crucial; if you can attract clients tailored to you then everyone wins. Also, convincing dusty clients to try something interesting!
You co-founded the Student Design Society at The Myers School of Art. Can you talk about your reasons for wanting to start and develop something like that?
The money haha! More specifically: the opportunities that money was able to provide. The University has thousands of dollars reserved for student organizations to travel and host events. We wanted to tap into that loot and provide members with opportunities beyond the classroom so we drew up a constitution for SDS.
In our first semester we were able to arrange studio tours, field trips, documentary screenings, and guest speakers. This year we hope to use some of the funding to pay for the entire senior class to attend AIGA (American Professional Organisation for Design) portfolio reviews. There’s serious potential for SDS to become something special.
Do you think typography is currently an undervalued art form?
Typography alone is one of the most valuable, direct, and expressive forms of communication. I honestly don’t know if it can ever be fully appreciated. I do think that the general public is becoming more sensitive to design — and we can probably credit Target, Tumblr and Pinterest for that. We’ve always judged books by their covers; we’ve just become stricter in our sentencing now. Strong typography has a lot of say in our final verdict even if we’re sometimes unaware of the fact. I think the future is looking bright.
Do you think showcasing your art on the Internet has helped or hindered you as an artist?
While X-amount of likes or followers isn’t necessarily going to send clients to your inbox (though it often does), it’s become a way for me to keep that classroom competition alive. That release of dopamine every time you see a notification is powerful. As long as you don’t get comfortable and you stay humble I think it’s great. Sharing my work has been a great way to meet like-minded creatives.
Of the work you’ve produced, which piece do you consider your favourite?
I’m still really excited about my submission for the Wild Ride Skateboard Auction. I teamed up with my friend Kristina Gauer to try something different. We had our boards laser cut into relief matrixes to create an edition of two-colour relief prints, which were also auctioned away. Our piece brought in the most money during the auction. The ink, the burnt wood, the whole experience was tactile and very enjoyable.
Where do you hope to be in the future and how will you get there?
Tough question. There are a lot of things I’d like to try. I want to work more with posters. I’m interested in the idea of designer as entrepreneur. I’ll be releasing more of my design and illustration for purchase. I’d like to try working on a clothing line. It would be great to set up a shop selling silkscreened posters and letterpress stationary, collaborating with others. I wouldn’t mind teaching. Maybe full time freelance. I try to have generalized goals. I’m focused more on assortment of options. I’m just going to keep moving and trying new things. The philosophy of do great work and be nice to people seems to pay off.