Today I'm pleased to share with you the work of Joachim Sperl, a freelance graphic designer and illustrator originally from Odenwald, Germany. Joachim is a phenomenal designer whose work is largely playful and colorful. After an aborted Architectural studies, he studied Graphic Design in Hamburg at the Buckinghamshire New University (United Kingdom) under Paul Plowman. Some of his clients include Cent Magazine (London, UK), 11FREUNDE Magazin (Berlin, Germany) and THE SKINNY Magazine (Edinbrough, UK).
Share a little bit about your background and what led you to become an illustrator.
Quite early in my childhood I remember that I always was browsing in my father's art history books. When we had to go to a birthday party for example, my parents always had to carry the big and heavy book with us. Later in school I was interested in photography and my father had a scanner. So I began to explore doing -senseless- layouts for fictive bands. But laying out something was always a hobby to me, I couldn't imagine earning money with it.
I grew up in a tiny village and there was no one who studied something like design or illustration. Just to give you an impression of my background: Architecture, for example, was for most people in my village a "weird" and "arty" thing. So you can imagine what they would say to a "thing" called graphic design or illustration. However, I bought a graphic design magazine in a town near my village and was fascinated by the Iranian graphic designer Reza Abedini and his poster designs. And that was the starting point for me to explore more about design.
Where do you find inspiration/ what inspires you?
I get inspiration mostly form music and the "talk talk" on the radio, or chats in the bus. But I don`t have a special inspiration source. Most inspiration I get while being playful and doing other things … sleeping is good. I think I need a big contrast to the actual work to get inspired. Basically, I need a special mood to dive in to work rather than a kind of "classic" inspiration. I mean, getting inspired from other design, illustration or artworks doesn't work for me. It's all about a playful mood and long theme research, I would say.
How would you describe your work?
Self describing is always a hard task. But I think in my design – and illustration work as well – humor plays a central role. I do playful things. I want to entertain people, they should have – at least – a few funny seconds while looking at my work, especially in my illustration works. If this is achieved - I'm relieved.
Could you tell us a little about your design process - do you have any preferred materials? Do you plan out every detail or let things happen naturally? How many projects do you have in progress at one time? Etc.
When I do illustrations I have a kind of process, which I always want to follow but I have to change the root on nearly every work. Because obviously themes are different and so each work strategy requires a slightly other way of process. But I have some basic stations and fixed periods of time I work on each station. I really enjoy the research part. This is to me the most important and most interesting part. I get most inspired on theme research, I would say. Because you learn new things about a subject and that results in new visual ideas. The time aspect is important for my process as well. I discovered that too much time is no good for my work. I need to be in kind of a rush – that helps. Often I spend a lot of time doing research until the last minute and then get going on with the first drafts. So I'm playful with time as well.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
At the moment I'm working on a poster design for a competition, an illustration on the theme authenticity and I'm doing an album artwork for a jazz band.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
I looking forward to a trip to Poland. I have a weakness for the Eastern Europe culture. I like the buildings, the traditional dresses and the language. I enjoy traveling by train, especially with the night trains – yes, I know its a bit old old-fashioned. But I really get inspired while sitting in long journey in trains and doing nothing. Boredom is a thing I enjoy as well. I don't own a smart phone and often forget to buy a book or magazine before starting a journey. So often I sit in the train and do nothing, just think about trivial things. But I really enjoy that. Boredom is underestimated according to my view. Now-a-days people should be bored more. There should be clubs for boredom and I would be the president. I‘m seriously thinking to start something like that – "The Ultimate Boredom Club" is a good name for it. We will see...
Where is your favorite place to be?
Actually I don't have a special place. I like to explore cites. I still have a long list of cites/countries I want visit in the future. Reykjavik, Glasgow and Warsaw are on top. Currently I live in Hamburg, but I think I'd like to move on next year. To me it was always a good thing to change the place. Every new city gives you something. It changes your work as well, and that's a nice side effect.
What was the best/most helpful piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being an illustrator/designer?
I only advise - to keep on doing things you love and try to keep having fun while doing work. As I said, be playful. Because having fun while working on things is the most important thing. And take time to explore, because exploring is the thing which can bring you joy, and that results good and satisfying work. Finally and basically and at the risk of being too pathetic: make up you're own mind and don't let other people tell you how things should look like or have to be.