It's clear to anyone with enough experience in the industry that inspiration can take many forms. From podcasts to architecture, there's no telling what will trigger your imagination next. For freelance Art Director & Graphic Designer Betim Bozkurt, it was the cleanliness of Swiss design.
Betim has had a passion for drawing and painting since she was little, even leading her to win an award from a UNESCO competition in school. To her, the message was clear: design and art were the way to go, and she's been pursuing that path relentlessly, drawing inspiration from Swiss design, art and architecture to create her unique, elegant and delicate style.
Betim is a strong believer in specialism as a unique selling point and her work demonstrates so flawlessly. In this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Betim to uncover the hidden secrets behind her talent and craft.
How did you get into the industry?
Since an early age I have had a passion and an aptitude for drawing, painting, and design. I was encouraged by my teachers to follow this passion, and one of the pictures I created during my school years was recognised with an award from UNESCO. My art teacher prepared me to study Graphic Design at university, and since then my career and vocation has always been centred around art and design. After I got my Bachelor’s degree I moved to Los Angeles to join BIRD Design Consultancy and begin my career.
Where are you based now and who do you work for?
I am currently based in London, and I run BONB Creative & Branding, the creative branding agency I founded. We work with a wide variety of clients from all over the world, including start-ups, media companies, interior design companies, tile manufacturers and retailers, catering services, property investors, beauty companies, and more.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
My father was a property investor, and always liked to involve me in the family business. From an early age I helped him manage and maintain his portfolio, and I spent much of my adolescent years managing properties. I started to draw and design at the same time as I started working with my father, and this is definitely the career I would have ended up in had my life in design not taken off!
Can you explain your creative process?
My creative process starts with discovery. I need to understand everything about a project, to immerse myself in what it requires and what it is based on, before I can start. I like to have a comprehensive understanding of both the creative and the practical sides of a project before getting started, so I can be confident that I know exactly what it will look like and what it needs to deliver. So I research what the client wants, what they need (not always the same thing!), what their target media are, and a number of other avenues of research.
Once I am living and breathing the project, I can build the strategy. I like to build a defined personality to a business, alongside clear, strong, understandable values. With all this in place, and a clear strategy to follow, I can begin to design!
How would you describe your style?
I love vector graphics and a minimalist style. I am hugely influenced by Swiss design, art, and architecture. I love clean lines, simple but impactful designs, and eye-catching colours.
Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
I have never been one for heroes - I love the art or the end product for itself, rather than for its creator, and I find I often get more out of a piece of art, music, or literature without knowing the artist, musician, or author. I am inspired more by things I see and feel than by individuals.
If you had to pick one ideal client/employer, who would that be and why?
My ideal client or employer would come with a strong vision for the future and where they wanted to go with their project and their company. I would like to work with someone who is capable of leading charismatically and inspirationally without ego or a bossy style, who is able to carry people with them, not bully or drive people using stress or pressure.
Ultimately, I want to work with and for people I can have a personal as well as a professional relationship with. With this definition, and with my previously mentioned lack of heroes and inspirational individuals in my process it is perhaps hard to identify someone in the world at the moment, but I imagine Peter Jones would be a great client.
How has technology affected the way you work?
Technology has both made things more fixed and more free. It has made the design process easier, with an array of extraordinary tools to work faster, simpler, and in a variety of new and different ways, as well as expanding the possibilities that design offers (which sometimes makes the process longer as a result!). It has also worked to broaden my professional world.
I can work with clients around the world, and also create and design from anywhere in the world myself. For example, I’m working at the beach right now in Antalya, Turkey, and in just under a week I’ll be back in the studio in London, drinking coffee in the rain. At no point will this disrupt my work or my creativity, which is a remarkable innovation and change in what is possible in the world of work.
What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I find the key to staying motivated is to always have new goals to achieve, and to be constantly thinking of new ideas to design. I’m lucky that my mind tends to overflow with creative ideas so I always have something new on the go, which helps to inspire me.
I also take huge inspiration from feedback I receive from clients. Solving their problems and getting good reports from them really motivates me. For example, a recent project for Otto Tiles (creating a sample mailing box) got them a load of great reviews and feedback from their clients, which they passed on to me.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
I have been lucky enough to receive awards and recognition from a number of competitions and bodies throughout my career. I am extremely proud of my Graphis award for Logo Design, as well as having been invited to judge at the PromaxBDA Europe Awards every year after I worked on designs for NTV.
However, what I am most proud of is getting to see the connections my clients are able to make with their audiences through my designs and work. I am most proud when I am able to help the people I work with succeed with their own businesses.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Turkey is my homeland, and I try to spend at least two months back home in Antalya over the summer. On a more regular basis, I like to get out of the city and go hiking at the weekend - reconnecting to nature and doing some exercise is a great way to shake off the working week.
What is one tip for other aspiring creatives looking for work?
Specialise! There is a tendency for aspiring creatives to try and do a little bit of everything, and offer whatever they think the client wants. This is largely because the industry tends to look for jacks of all trades, and it can be extremely challenging to get started as a creative if you are not a generalist.
However, the thing that lets you stand out from the crowd is having a clear, specific style, and being really good at one thing. Find what you love doing, and what you are great at, and let the world know about it!
What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?
While technology can be an amazing help in the design world, and in the wider world of work, I worry that we are becoming too reliant on it. Technology changes so fast, and it can be extremely hard to adapt, and if you are reliant on it for your business this can be bad. I would love to see a solution for this that either allows technology-less solutions to flourish alongside, or that helps creative stay on top of an ever-changing technological landscape.
Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
Chris Do at The Futur’s YouTube channel is giving valuable informations for designers. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b3c7kxa5vU-bnmaROgvog)
Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel is great as well: (https://www.youtube.com/c/garyvee)
For the books I would suggest “The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns” and “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Gialdini”