Derick van Wijk is a young creative who’s recently graduated from Vega Cape Town where he studied Visual Brand Communication, specialising in Art Direction. His stand-out graphic design style is bold, confident and mostly monochromatic. His work shows unusual and instinctual compositions that feel random but considered. Interested by his assertive lines and black-and-white contrasts, we interviewed him to find out more about his background, design style and future plans.
How and why did you become interested in graphic design and art direction?
I spent a large portion of my youth growing up in different cities, especially around the Middle Eastern Gulf, so I spent a lot of time by myself observing my surroundings in foreign cities. Later down the line, after being part of a regional Display & Visual Merchandising team for All Saints in London for a few years, the progression from physical hands-on fashion work to visual communications in the catalogue, book and general graphic world felt natural to me.
What do you enjoy, or alternatively dislike, about it?
I like seeing the concept from an idea all the way through to the end experience/product – the curating throughout is really enjoyable and so important. I really enjoy how powerful the use of imagery and type can be in the context of association for people; visual stimuli as currency.
How would you describe your style of design, and what influences it?
Working in the area between fine art and classic/contemporary graphic design is something I’ve always been very attracted to. Im really influenced by the natural world and raw elements, alongside objects and aesthetics of our post-modern experience. I mean even if it’s not always visually obvious in my work – it’s always there, part of the backbone. I’ve always loved works that have a strong sense of intended suggestion in them. Works that function as a one way street can be so boring; involving the viewers into the equation, creating an unspoken sense of dialogue, allowing them to realise a communication in relation to their own life or something they have seen or experienced, without spelling it out is becoming more and more important.
Was studying Creative Brand Communications at Vega what you expected it to be? Has your perception of the field changed since your first year? – And if so how?
I think it’s healthy for your perception of a field to change, it keeps things light and in motion. But speaking in regards to personal perception I think a lot has changed and been added in terms of the way I approach work. It’s a good thing, always.
What’s the best piece of advice you received while studying?
Take responsibility to get your ideas seen.
Which of your creative projects are you most proud of?
Art directing my book MOUNTAIN was a great experience to wrap up the year. It made me realise my love for book- and catalogue-making even more. Working with HANSA printers with this was a lot of fun. A lot of visits for proofing and editing, and seeing the work get closer every time to the final product was great. I wanted MOUNTAIN to be a visual catalogue of my works for the year 2014, less speaking and more showing.
Why the word ‘Mountain’?
The idea of Mountain began and ended in 2014. It allowed me to develop a way of looking, working and communicating that created a personal desire for a sense of self-invention and experimentation that pushed my ideas and works a little further. It’s the ideal metaphor. Maybe like some pilgrimage. Thin cold mountain air, impossible heights, aspiration, inspiration, tension/lack thereof – a sense of timelessness is present. I find that complete devotion to reach some kind of summit pretty admirable, treacherous, attractive and fun.
Vega’s all about building strong (and healthy) brands, but how do you feel about the word ‘brand’?
I think it’s possible for brands to be made and communicated in an un-obvious and holistic way. It is achievable. To me, a lot of brands and businesses would do well to slow down and recognise the notion of saving face. Blasting music out of a chromed truck whilst minimally dressed summer temps throw out energy drinks next to a selfie photo booth station is not a real solution to anything. I mean, I know this way of doing things has its own markets and audiences, I just feel like this way of conducting a brand is a step backwards. I’m attracted to the idea of creating and maintaining a brand in a sharp, memorable, clever and quiet way – you don’t need to shout the alphabet out.
What are your plans for 2015 and beyond?
I’ve been freelancing into the new year, but have also been looking at design studios in Cape Town. I’d really like to start doing a lot more invitational/book/catalogue work for galleries and artists, and continue to practise and develop my own art and design. I’m at the start of the idea of ‘Museum’ at the moment, which is an umbrella notion I’d like my work to start coming out of for 2015. I also have trips planned for Dubai and Hong Kong which I’m also very excited about – there’re a lot of interesting business and design ideas in these cities.
Where can we stay updated with your work?
In terms of web, I’m still gearing up for this new year to come but on Instagram for now as I generally post work on there and will be announcing my new website from that platform: @derickvee