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Maciek Michalski and the human side of creativity – #MemberSpotlight

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Sure, technology and digital have revolutionised the industry in thousands of positive ways. But according to Maciek Michalski, they have also taken away a bit of the human element that makes the creative industries so special.

Maciek, founder of brand consultancy Hitchcock Michalski, is a driven creative born and raised in South Africa, now working with clients from all over the world. A genuine lover of creativity and humanity, he attempts to find the human element in every kind of creative work out there, but is concerned that the Internet may be bringing designers to settle on a vanilla, template-based kind of creativity. And when you look at his works, his ardent passion really shines through.

For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about the life of a creative professional who's been trying to change the world in his own way, be it by doing amazing creative work every day or by envisioning a "Fonts for the Future" book to help revolutionise the educational system in South Africa.

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How did you get into the industry?

The bright orange background, the off-centre geometric pattern and the 2 mysterious characters in the centre evoked feelings of uncertainty, dizziness and suspense. If a movie poster could do that, I wanted to be a part of that. Saul Bass and the Vertigo poster in my local vhs store – I thank you for inspiring me.

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Where are you based now and who do you work for? 

I own a brand design consultancy with a partner in Johannesburg South Africa and do work for clients in South Africa, Nigeria, Italy, North America and the UK.

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Can you explain your creative process?

Great strategic insight leads to creative exploration. Every project starts with finding new creative combinations from different sources of inspiration – be it conversations, spotting opportunities in clients industries, other industries and looking at different discipline categories, then combining what we found in new exciting ways. Yes, with pencil on paper first.

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How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)? 

Sped up the creative process a helluva lot – unfortunately at the expense of creativity. Designers' first port of call is their computer, Pinterest, Behance or similar for inspiration. A lot of design has become vanilla and template-based, whereas I really enjoy seeing hand-crafted typefaces, photomontage layouts and silkscreened posters, their human involvement gives soul to the projects.

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What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Getting inspired by our younger designers. Bringing their ideas to fruition in the most compelling, provoking and exquisite way is very rewarding. Not just directing but working on briefs from start to finish keeps the mind ticking by problem solving and filling the  dreaded white page with ideas and concepts.

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What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of? 

Definitely the Fonts for the Future Book. South Africa has the worst performing educational system in Africa. To transform our country, we need to transform education. We created a fundraising tool using the one thing underprivileged students can donate, their handwriting. We scanned, traced and programmed their handwritten fonts and divided them into career categories according to the students’ dreams. Fonts for the Future was sent out as a direct mailer to corporates and individuals, to serve as a catalogue, and purchased as a collector’s item. By purchasing this book or a font from this collection, people could invest in the hopes and dreams of a learner, help them write a better future, one letter at a time.

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How do you recharge away from the office? 

Cooking, Cycling and spending time in the outdoors with my partner is a great way for me to recharge, and for those really quiet moments a great book is a must.

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work? 

I’m always looking for the insight and conceptual idea before critiquing the final execution. Make sure your portfolio tells a story of exploration, inspiration and the authenticity of the idea whilst showcasing brilliant creative implementation.

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