Original Interview: January 2017

Tom Muntisov

TDK Awards 16′ winner, Tom Muntisov, tells us about the time he almost failed a semester at university while working on a freelance job, designing for Nike Basketball, and stresses the importance of personal projects!

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
My earliest creative memory is quite vivid. I remember being really young and drawing Pokemon. After I started collecting the cards, I tried to make my own, creating drawings, writing descriptions and copying the layout of the original cards. Little did I know, what I was actually doing was graphic design! It wasn’t until after high school that I realised design was something I wanted to take seriously, so I decided to go for it.

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?
I wanted to take a year off, do some travelling and develop my own graphic style. This sort of happened, but not in the way I had envisioned. Just before graduating I had the opportunity to design a t-shirt for Nike Basketball, which was pretty crazy (it should be out mid 2017). From there I started to get commissioned for other basketball related work. I also went to New York and did a one month type design course at School of Visual Arts. What was originally going to be a year of ‘taking a break’ ended up being a year of working on interesting freelance projects and learning new design skills overseas!

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What have been some of your biggest disasters and how have you learnt from it?
In my second year at uni, I had a fun opportunity to design a logo and create illustrations for a new company. I was pretty excited as it felt like one of my first serious freelance jobs. However, this coincided with the semester coming to a close, so I was already swamped with work. I ended up spending so much time on the freelance job that I borderline failed one of my uni subjects. To make matters worse, the client decided not to use my logo or illustrations and then wouldn’t pay me either! It was terrible, but I learnt a lot about time management and how to be more professional when dealing with clients so that nothing like this would ever happen again.

What have been some of your biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
1. Personal projects – it’s really important to pursue your own creative work. It can remind you why you got into design in the first place and it gives you a chance to develop a style outside the constraints of a strict brief.
2. Put your work on Instagram – you never know who might see it. A lot of freelance jobs I’ve worked on started from people seeing my work on Instagram.
3. Don’t stress over your grades – obviously you work hard and want to do well, but you also need to use uni as a time to make mistakes and figure out what you like doing. At the end of the day it’s your folio and personality that will get you places.
4. Make work that you love – whilst it’s cliché and sounds obvious, it’s also true. When you figure out what kind of work you like making, keep making it, be experimental, be inventive and enjoy yourself.

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What have been your highlights since you started out?
I think winning this award has to be close to the top of my highlights. Honestly, I never thought I would win any sort of award for design and to receive such encouraging words from veteran creatives is special. It’s definitely made me feel like all the hard work since graduating has payed off.

Whats the big goal in the next five years?
The main thing is to keep making great work with like-minded people. I also want to continue with my personal work – giving basketball a visual voice via graphic design. Hopefully in five years time I will have a massive archive of basketball work and I’ll be able to see the progression over such a time period.

Instagram: @muntyhoops
Website: tom-muntisov.com

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