Featured Design Studio

Ape Creative

April 2018

Does anyone remember the Trapper Keeper!? It was the item to have as a 80/90's kid (oh the memories). Well, that's how Rollan — Creative Director and Founder of Ape Creative — kickstarted his creative career! Creating his own version of the Trapper Keeper for him and his classmates. Read on to hear some great advice and some top tips on what books to read to get some inspiration juices flowing.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

Back in fifth-grade, in the 80's when the Trapper Keeper was a fad and everyone had it. It was like a hardcover folder where you keep all your notebooks and locked it with a velcro. I ended up designing a do-it-your-own customized Trapper Keeper made of cheap cardboard because no one could afford it back then. I made it really awesome by combining fonts on neon cut-out vinyl stickers of my name on it and collaged it together with images of Rock band idols. Computer graphics was not available then, so everything hasdto be made by hand. Everyone wanted one as well—half of the class had my signature folder. That's when I realized I had a knack for design.

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

I grew up in a family of artisans. My mother who is an entrepreneur and craftsman—she developed a love for dressmaking and doll-making as a hobby and it ended up as a business. She started to design a series of unique doll characters that every customer loved. Dolls made families happier. At very early age, I started to realize that using simple creative ideas and design skills could impact lives. I grew up honing my skills, keeping in my mind my creative instinct while using it in different applications.

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

1. The Anatomy of Design, by Steven Heller and Mirco Illic. I got this book as a gift from a former colleague. I was blown away by how the authors put together case studies on how a certain design product arrived at the final point. How modern design is influenced by another piece of work and how it is uniquely developed in the end. They examine design works in a piece by piece manner and how it evolved.

2. End of Print: The Grafik of David Carson by Lewis Blackwell. One of my favorite books in my library. Definitely, David Carson is a classic example of how a surfer and a school drop out can turn Graphic Design into a surprising turning point. Personally, I love his work and how he became a rebel in the design world. How he broke the design rulebook and is still perfecting his style and experimentation. Thus, spawning a genre in design. The fact that his work is influential and appreciated in the real world, is a testament that any rulebook can be broken as long you are true to your craft and resist conformity.

3. Steven Heller's Series of online podcasts. I am a big fan of Steven, I literally listened to all of his podcasts and have read his books. He has great knowledge of culture and design, presented in an educational and scholarly manner. Personally, I think he's a legend.

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A career in design has never been a job. It is always been a lifestyle.

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What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

There are only two "must" qualities and skills I look for an aspirant. One, great "enthusiasm" for their craft. Two, the infinite "eagerness" to learn.

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

I would advise myself to "Work Hard. Play Hard" Either I was too serious studying hard, but not realizing the fun of simply being inspired. Or, I was slacking a lot, that I missed the most important turning points in my career. I should have balanced and enjoyed the process simultaneously.

What advice would you give students starting out?

A career in design has never been a job. It is always been a lifestyle. Just like any relationship, it starts with huge enthusiasm that later develops into a commitment. Either you have a deep commitment to it or not. So, never be wary of that enthusiasm and commitment. Enjoy every bit of it.

Website: theape.co

Instagram: @apedxb

Behance: apecreativedxb

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