Hoop Doop meets Mark & Scribbledesign
by: Anna Kelhu
Mark Bakker, an Amsterdam-based graphic designer, found his dream job by chance. As a 20-something, at a time when he was working in a pharmacy, he was introduced to a design agency by a friend. Mark had no schooling for graphic designing but his talent was picked up and he got hired.
This was 13 years ago. Since then he has become a Senior Designer, left the agency behind, started his own business and created his own way of working.
I prefer doing this for myself, rather than for the big bosses. Having my own company means choosing my own clients, making conscious decisions over what I do and how I do it. Working on projects from start to end together with the client gives a great sense of fulfillment. As the sole force behind his company Scribbledesign, Mark has become familiar with the various responsibilities that come along with total control. Being completely independent requires skills of many kinds. Also, a creative profession – any creative profession – cannot be entered with a 8 to 5-mentality. Inspirations occur at unexpected moments and a professional has to be ready and willing to grasp those moments and make them count.
Working alone is challenging at times. You have to manage both the business and the creative side. It’s about juggling different elements to make sure the job gets done in time; you have the creative time but also keeping your network alive. As most assignments happen via-via, through people I know, meet and stay in touch with, it’s one of the most important aspects of running my business. Without the people who recommend me there would hardly be any business.
When I had just started I was running from every possible networking event to another. I’ve stopped doing that and I am pickier now. I love talking to people, having surprising conversations and getting inspired by them – that is where a big chunk of my inspiration comes from. But you also need to do the actual work. That doesn’t always happen during office hours. When the inspiration occurs, you have to take the opportunity and start scribbling.
So what working methods do you go by? What is a typical day for you like?
I get up and check my e-mail, then head to the office. I often do some networking at lunch. And sometimes I just sit down for a day to work on ideas. Obviously this is the best bit of the day. Regarding methods, ideas start for me, quite traditionally, by scribbling shapes and words on a piece of paper. These ideas then get explored and worked out on the computer into something bigger, and often stripped down again, leaving me with the best elements. Looking back at the process, the end product often seems very close to the initial idea.
How about dealing with the clients’ visions and needs – do you ever feel you have to compromise your artistic integrity? Are you often given limits or a sense of direction for what you’ve been commissioned to do?
I don’t see myself as an artist. I’m not creating art; I’m communicating something for someone, with a purpose. Most artists just do what they do; they have their own visions and often want to provoke reactions. I think that’s the difference. In my job, I’m a problem solver- I create a product for the client, which fits the client’s needs. Sometimes I’m given lots of parameters – at other times not. I keep in mind their visions and needs during the creation process and, sure, you can challenge their visions, but at the end the client is the one paying.
Having said that, occasionally it becomes obvious that graphic designing is an underestimated creative profession. My aim is to solve problems for my clients, do the things they cannot do. Valuing the process doesn’t come easily to many people, though. There is careful consideration and evaluating done behind every image, every project. For instance, a poster has to stick to people’s minds the split second they see it. The glimpse has to be recognizable, curious or understandable. Crowding the poster with information – although often the client thinks more is better – is probably not the best way to go.
What kinds of projects are you working on right now?
To balance off the business side of things, to embrace artistic freedom without money being involved, I also work for charities, do some pro bono-things. Right now I’m working on a project with Red Cross for a Christmas campaign called ‘Tafeltje Delen’. It’s fun and it’s local, for a good cause. I’m also in the middle of a project for a software development company, and designing a website for a writer, amongst other things. I’m finishing off some things just in time for a break in Asia!
Hoopdoop wishes Mark an enjoyable stay in Asia!
You can find Mark’s webpage at www.scribbledesign.nl and in Facebook under the same title.