Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 31 Oct 2013, and is filled under graphic designers, illustrators.

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Joachim Sperl

Joachim Sperl was born in a small town and grew up in a village in Odenwald, Germany. He studied Graphic Design in Hamburg, Germany and at the Buckinghamshire New University, UK, under Paul Plowman. Currently based in Hamburg, Joachim works as a freelance designer and illustrator.


When did you decide you wanted to be graphic designer?
I always wanted to be a person who invented something. In my youth I just wanted to be an inventor, rather than a firefighter. Later I was really interested in architecture and fine arts. Well, I thought I could be a cool architect like Antonio Gaudi. But the real life of an architect was, to me, filled with to many gates. Every thing was kind of far away from what I wanted to create. At the end I aborted my architectural studies, after just a year at university. At that time I was doing artwork for bands, and a friend of mine was a good cartoonist. We did some poster layouts together for a festival. He did the drawings and I did all the regular layout stuff, e.g. type design. At that time I was really interested in the field of photography, as well. But I really liked classic graphic design and typography the most, so I tried to focus on this field. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good portfolio, with just a handful third class works at that time. So, I decided to do my social service and then apply to an art school.


Would you recommend studying at art school?
In my opinion it does’t matter where to study design or illustration. And it doesn’t matter if your tutors are well known or not. Their name will not help you find your own style and strategy. It’s more about the right chemistry between student and teacher. I would say that if you can spend a whole evening socialising with you’re tutor, than they are the right tutor. This is a good indicator to be proof it is the tutor which brings you along the years of study.

Could you describe your typical day?
I try to leave my bed and crawl to the coffee machine. Then in a rush through the »bathroom action« and eating what is left in the fridge or eating the rest of last night’s supper. From time to time I do some sport in early morning. Actually it’s not a »real« sport … it’s … swimming. I mean – I know it’s a sport for old people. But I can really relax doing my boring lanes in the early morning, but it’s always a struggle to get out of the house so early in the morning. After heading home from the indoor swimming pool, I drink another cup of coffee or – better, I know – tea. Then I start working. From that on it’s a typical work day, as every designer does. I often work during the night time. I enjoy this feeling »being the only human in the world« who is on earth. That brings me in a good mood and that’s what I need the most – a good playful mood.


What do you wish you‘d know when you first started out?
I didn’t know anything about the artisanry of acquiesce. But it’s obviously one of the basics when you decide to work as a freelancer. At university I heard virtually nothing about it. I remember someone gave us a list with agencies and representations. But how to acquire clients in detail? Not a thing. I thing schools should rethink that point. Whether the majority of students go on to work in agencies or not.

If you weren’t an graphic designer, what would you be?
A roboticist. I like machines and robots. I don’t know why.

Any other tips you could share?
If you a foreigner in the UK, look first to the right, and then to the left before crossing the street. That’s really good advice when you come from Europe to the UK. Because in Germany it’s the opposite.


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