What led you into design?
I’ve been drawn to the arts since I was a child. I made it official at age 10. That’s when I told my mom I wanted to go to a fine arts school.
I followed through on that dream, graduating with plans to head into fashion design. But, after three months in a post-grad program, I realized that, while I loved fashion, it didn’t hold the personal opportunities I had originally expected.
Almost accidentally, I came across the Higher Academy School of Graphic Design (HASGD) in Moscow. Something told me it was a place where I could take my next steps. So, I applied. Soon after I was introduced to graphic design and an incredible community of people and tutors there. HASGD – and the people there – helped me see that design is almost infinitely applicable across all mediums, forms and contexts. The most thrilling part? Design was a discipline where my fine art background could serve as rocket fuel in my learning.
What does a typical day look like?
I can’t say there is ever a typical day at a place like COLLINS. But I’ll break them into two types. One is "normal", and one is when we are working, speeding towards a tight deadline.
A normal day usually starts with packing lunch for my son, some really simple morning exercises, then a good breakfast and then work. The speeding days are where the team and I are up against a launch date or other deadline. That's when I skip all of my usual routines because I can’t take my mind off the work at hand. It completely consumes my attention.
As my beloved colleague Farbod Kokabi said to me one day — we (at COLLINS) can’t really call it "work." It’s really our craftsmanship. Our vocation.
What's your workstation setup?
My workstation at home is just a laptop and sketchbook.
At our Brooklyn office my favorite workplace is in the library — an endless source of inspiration, but also the most cozy spot where we can all gather as a team on different occasions.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I can get inspired anywhere. But my biggest insights always come from anything and everything in the city and nature. I love taking in all the textures, structures and shapes around me. When I moved to New York I was blown away by layers of the most beautiful – and the most ugly – things you can imagine all living together in harmony.
Graphics inspired by NYC.
Graphics inspired by Yalta (Crimea) — my favorite place on Earth.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
The typeface that my friend Ivan Velichko made called Gertrude. The Gertrude typeface was first released in 2016 in one style with a dazzling spirit: narrowed ovals and experimental shapes of "a" and "g"; in 2023 Ivan expanded it with six more styles of similar but more concise appearances.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
It’s hard to pinpoint the work that I’m most proud of, but I love working with symbols to push the boundaries of what roles they can play — whether it’s a logo for the brand, lettering, typography or a complex graphic system.
Selected symbols made between 2018 and 2021.
Symbol for my latest project.
Illustration for PORT Magazine.
Identity for Brickit App (Together with Andrey Medvedev and Yevgeniy Anfalov).
Self-Initiated project ‘Missin' Nature’ made during the lockdown.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
The ongoing challenge for me at COLLINS is learning how to look beyond any of my subjective views and personal taste to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Ultimately, that's the question behind every brief — to use the thinking of our strategists and writers here as a springboard to create something surprising, something meaningful at every turn.
That's also why our co-founder Brian Collins always pushes us to find inspiration in the history of art and design, movies and music, science and serendipitous discoveries that might bring a new perspective, rather than blindly following a trend or explore more of the endless tropes within the brand design industry.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
As one of my favorite designers and human beings Rejane Dal Bello recently told me when I wasn’t at my best, "Life is for those who don’t give up easily".
The more I learn and grow in my profession, the more I understand that the ability to go through tough moments and failure is even more important for growth than going through your most successful moments. It’s easy to give up. It's easy to choose a fast way out when something isn’t working as you hoped it would. But it’s important to approach those hard moments with the same gratitude as you appreciate any of your successes. That's the hardest, but the best lesson I've learned.
Well that – and keeping track of what my son doesn't want me to put in his lunch this week.