Mario De Meyer is a freelance graphic designer based in Ghent, Belgium who has a strong focus on typography. Having worked on a wide variety of projects for big name brands, Mario’s portfolio is nothing short of impressive. Here he is to tell us more about himself and his fantastic work.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m located in Belgium and have been working as a graphic designer for 20 years and I first started doing freelance work about 10 years ago. My work most of the time is typographic based, but I also do some abstract and illustrative work.
We love the ‘Power and Precision’ piece you created for us. How long does something like this take to complete?
Since I’ve done a similar piece like this in the past, I had a pretty clear idea of the end result before I started, so it was more a matter of sketching things out and vectorising it. Once I have a good sketch, I can move pretty fast. I think all together this particular piece took me about 3 days with sketching included.
You are pretty new to Affinity Designer, what were your first thoughts when using the app?
It felt really refreshing and elegant. I’ve mainly used the Isometric Studio so far and that’s an absolute joy to use. I can’t wait to dive into some of the other functions Affinity Designer has!
“It felt really refreshing and elegant. I’ve mainly used the Isometric Studio so far and that’s an absolute joy to use. I can’t wait to dive into some of the other functions Affinity Designer has!”
How did you learn to do typography?
I had a graphic education, so I learned the basics at school.
Is it something you’ve always had a passion for?
I really liked the typography class at school, but I didn’t have the passion for it like I have now, or even think I could make a profession out of it. Typography back then wasn’t as creative as it is now, it has evolved so much during the last decade.
What do you consider to be your most successful design project to date?
It’s really hard to pick one, but I guess that has to be the Novelty Waves series. I started this as fun self-initiated side project alongside the typographic work I was doing. I didn’t really have a goal, besides making something that just looked cool, but it kind of went viral and I was able to do jobs for Fortune Magazine, Adobe, IBM, Wired etc., in that style.
“It’s really hard to pick one, but I guess that has to be the Novelty Waves series. I started this as fun self-initiated side project alongside the typographic work I was doing. I didn’t really have a goal, besides making something that just looked cool, but it kind of went viral and I was able to do jobs for Fortune Magazine, Adobe, IBM, Wired etc., in that style.”
Making this series made me realise the importance of self-initiated passion projects. The 36 Days of Type and Isotype project are two other examples of passion projects that can lead to a lot of commercial work.
What led you to go freelance?
This may sound weird, but ‘frustration’. Before I started as a freelancer, I had been working for about 10 years as a graphic designer, but I never really felt I could do my own thing. Going freelance was incredibly liberating and rewarding.
How do you plan your designs before you start drafting them?
I mostly start by just thinking and brainstorming about it, like what approach or style would be the best choice for a particular project. I rarely start sketching immediately, but let it sink and brew for a while. I also like to do research about the subject and look what’s already out there, not to copy it but actually stay as far away as possible to what other people have done to make sure the result doesn’t turn out to be too much of a cliché and has a unique style. After that, I mostly start sketching and try to make optimal use of the space I’ve got.
Have you ever had any difficult clients? If so, how do you connect with them?
Yes, but it happens rarely to be honest. I think a clear communication is essential here. Most of the clients I have now know my work very well which helps a lot.
Does something have to inspire you before you choose a project to work on?
There has to be certain connection or interest in the subject.
How do you come up with new ideas?
Inspiration is something that you can’t force, the more you force yourself to come up with new ideas, the harder it seems to get. I mostly get inspired when my mind is in a relaxed state, when listening to music, when I take a ride on my bike or when taking a shower for example.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The freedom of being your own boss and the satisfaction of being proud of your own work while making your clients happy at the same time.
What is your proudest moment so far?
It’s really hard to pick out one moment, but I always feel pretty proud when I’m able to exceed the client’s expectations.
What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not working?
I like cycling, but I also love music. Music is my other creative outlet and to be more precise, modular synths. There’s something very rewarding and intriguing when you patch a modular synth—the way the different pieces interact and communicate with each other and come alive to make something new, very similar to how Lego works, which was my favourite toy in my childhood.
Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.
I didn’t like working with vectors at all when I started as a graphic designer, I was very much into anything that was pixel-based. Now I feel the complete opposite.