Interview with Tim and Bram Vanhaeren from Into1

Tim and Bram Vanhaeren, belgium based artists, run a creative studio focused on graphic design. Read how the brothers get along working together

1. First of all we would like to thank you both for taking the time to provide abduzeedo.com with this interview. Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become artists?

Bram: Well It all started when I was 13 years old, while I was playing first person shooter games and joined a team of players with a forum. On these forums you could add a small signature under your posts, a small image with your name to represent your in-game alias. Someone introduced me to Photoshop and how to make those little signatures and before I knew I participated in Signature of the week contests. Together with Tim we won about 100 contests and wanted a new challenge. At this point we joined Deviantart and started to create bigger work like desktop wallpapers. Not so much later, Tim introduced me to Illustrator, a new toy. Like you can see it was basically a whole process of playing around in design applications that improve my skills and interest for the design scene. What first was a hobby quickly became a passion. Tim: Like Bram explained it all started very playful in this signature design world. It was a quite big community back then. Everyone was creating them. After a while we wanted a new challenge and it even got to a point where I decided to start my own design community. I tried this 3 times ending with phase02 which is now an electronic music blog I'm running in my spare time. Anyway it became our passion and I decided to go study Cross-Media Design in Antwerp and 1 year ago I passed successfully. Back then I couldn't find an interesting job immediately so I simply tried my own company "into1". I love my job!

2. Your work is pretty unique and full of creativity. Where does your inspiration come from?

Tim: I don't consider my work as unique. Well … Bram always puts this quite uniques techniques and touches to his/our artwork. But my inspiration comes from random daily events and everything I see online, outside, during the day. I'm just a sponge absorbing everything I see, read and learn and at the end I just mix this all into my work. It's really weird how sometimes crazy ideas pop up in my head. I wonder where they come from. I wish I could tell you. Bram: Ah, I guess like everyone else, Music, Daily life, Movies, … Music is definitely a big help in the progress of making a new work. Reason why I try to listen to all kind of music styles, to mix stuff up and get interesting results. For the rest, I save a lot off Fashion photography. Then when I start a new work, or when i'm about to start a new work, I go through all the photographs and find the best color combinations and new ideas for use off textures. (I save my images by color tags, so I can quickly find photographs by color, a good tip)

3. Could you describe for us your typical 'start to finish' workflow when working on a design? How does it feels like to work with your brother together?

Tim: Like most of the designers we start off with an idea. We try to think of a strong concept to fit the theme/briefing. Next we decide who from us two is most fitted for this job. If it's a very artistic experimental work, Bram is definitely gonna start off and I'll be the one to give feedback at some point during the process and probably add some finishing touches. If it's a more technical corporate job like stationary, web design (depends on what style they request) I'll be the one to take the job with of course some feedback and input from Bram. We just try to complete each other's flaws. If we're like 100% working together it's mostly some artwork and we're just having fun. Anyway it's really easy to work with your brother when it comes to feedback and criticism. It's your brother so it's easier to stay completely honest with him. If you work with a colleague you might be a little softer or may not care a lot. Well we do care a lot what our brother does as a designer. So we want to make sure he finishes something absolutely perfect. Bram: Exactly! If I work on a private work or a job that i'm most fitted for. I always start with setting a mood. I'll do this by quickly creating a background and putting on music that fits the job. I just want to make sure not to lose that atmosphere during the work. When I'm about 70% through the process and I've got some time to the deadline I'll leave it for a day or maybe more. When I get back to it I always have a slightly different viewpoint (thanks to feedback from my brother or designer friends) and that gives me an opportunity to add some new interesting things and make it even better. But like Tim said there is not one work is considered to be finished before the two of us has given their opinion.

4. How did you come up with the name of your company?

Tim: That was really a fun thinking process. We both tried really hard to collect as many names as we could. Till suddenly it struck. "into1" It couldn't be more obvious. We work together, we think together always to end up with one final result. We combine our skills, vision, thoughts, etc. into one.We're like one creative force. That's basically the whole idea behind it.

5. What are your tools of the trade, both hardware and software?

Bram: I work on an iMac 20" screen, it's getting slow but still does the job. Next to my iMac I have my macbook where I check my mails and write for my blogs. We work with the Adobe CS5 Design Premium package. But don't forget paper, pencils, markers, waterpain, … Tim: I work on a 27-inch 3,2Ghz iMac, like Bram said with the Adobe CS5 Design Premium package. And once in a while we try some traditional tools and techniques for a unique touch. We also have a Canon D-60 to have some fun with and to finish of my working space I also own 2x reloop rmx1 turntables with a reloop mx80 mixer. Yes I'm a DJ. Always fun to blow some nice music through my monitor speakers and blow some steam off with heavy beats and dirty baselines.

6. What, for you personally are the pros and cons of being a designer?

Bram: Pro + Everyday is different, one day your doing web design, the other day your working on a big illustration. I love to mix my days up. Another lovely pro is the fact you can share your work with a lot of people, Thanks to all the social networks it's really easy to get in touch with new people and share your love. Con - As freelancer you never know if your going to have new projects soon or run out. Tim: It's a very varied job! That's definitely a pro. You can be creative, which is definitely not with all jobs. And for us it's just do what you love and live from it. That's a huge pro!!! A con would be that every single individual has a different vision of what's "beautiful". That sometimes makes it really hard to work with clients. Sometimes you simply have to create something you don't like, but the client does. This makes it also very interesting but can also lead to a lot of frustration. Surf to "clientsfromhell.net" and you know what I'm talking about.

7. How does your job as an artist and designer influence your life? Do you feel that you see things around you differently for example?

Bram: Oh yes, I can't run on the streets without checking all the billboards, even the design on someones t-shirt. I always check them out and give some critiques in my head. Like for example, oh I could do a billboard design like that, I would have used this color and this type instead, oh hey look at that shirt, nice design… All day long. When I go to a party with some friends, I will always discuss the poster and flyer with them. They get used to it now, but in the beginning they always asked me why I bothered, because they don't care about it. Tim: Bram kinda said it all. Is it obvious he answered the questions before I did? Anyway yeah you simply care more about the design in general of all the products in the world. It's not just printed design, I also look at architecture, cars, clothes, you simply care more about design in general. But like Bram said if I look for example to some sort of billboard I don't really see the product or what they 're advertising I can't help it to see all the techniques used and figuring out the whole design process.

8. What are your coming projects?

Bram: I finished my work for the Baetulona project last week, it's an exhibition to celebrate 100 year Baetulona. A 100 meter long wall, with 100 different artworks from different studios from all over the world. There will be an artbook available and the exhibition will be amazing! Really looking forward to check that out! We're also celebrating Wallpaper Arts First anniversary, hopefully we can keep this project a live and make it better every week. For the rest, I'm going back to school in September, so I have to concentrate myself on that and get the most out of it! Tim: Bram is going back to school so that's going to be a huge difference for into1. I'll be on my own for 80% or something. So that's gonna be something to adapt to. Into1 is going to have a huge website update somewhen in the next few months. And we're thinking about upgrading our tiny little webshop a bit. So that's going on for into1. That's gonna be more than enough to do along side the jobs I need to finish in time.

9. What are your favourite 5 websites, and why?

Bram: 1. Behance; My favorite place to share my new projects and check out other work! 2. Phase02; My brother's music Blog! Always in for some new tunes from upcoming talents! 3. Baubauhaus; When I'm bored I always love to check this out! 4. Abduzeedo; Yes, I have to admit I check the website on a daily basis. 5. TheKdu; As member from the kdu I always check out their blog and new projects. Tim: 1. Google; Who can go without it. 2. Behance; 3. Clientsfromhell.net: Makes me feel better after experiencing a "clientfromhell" myself 4. Smashing Magazine along with 10 other design blogs, yes Abduzeedo is one of them. 5. Facebook: yeah it's great entertainment for me. And a good way to keep up with your friends if you're behind your iMac all day.

10. Once again , thank you very much for the interview. As a final word, do you have any tips for upcoming artists and designers?

Bram & Tim: Don't dream your life, live your dream! (love that quote!!!) Thanks for reading and thank you Abduzeedo for giving us the opportunity to share few words! Appreciate it!

Where to find them on the web

Into1.be - Portfolio BramVanhaeren.com - Portfolio and blog of Bram Wallpaper Art.org - Blog about wallpaper and artists behind Phase02.org - Blog about electronic music

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