Kevin Rooi

We caught up with Dutch designer and typography enthusiast Kevin Rooi! Kevin chatted to us about his experience with his first big freelance client (which turned out to be a bit of a headache!), his side project (@typomento) which brings awareness to the layered culture of his Caribbean roots, and how he has hope that the design industry will be more diverse and accepting in the future.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

Coming from the Caribbean as a kid in kindergarten I used to create my own stick figures but with muscles. When my teacher saw my talent in the arts and she convinced my parents to enrol me in art classes at a young age.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Academy of Minerva, Groningen in the Netherlands then worked as an intern and freelancer for an online music magazine called “DATMAG”. I also did a traineeship at “Studio Renate Boere” in The Hague and was a part-timer at a multi-cultural digital agency called “Ngrane” in Amsterdam. Now I’m working full-time at MediaMonks. 

So I went from intern, freelancer, traineeship, part-time to finally getting a full-time job as a Junior Designer after 2 years.

If something doesn't seem right talk about the situation with other designers or people who have been freelancing for a long time so they can give you advice. We need to help one another so we are not taking advantage of.

What’s the worst design job you’ve ever had and how does that make you a better designer?

I got an opportunity to make designs for a well-known DJ which ended being an unprofessional nightmare. It was one of my first clients starting out, he wanted a flyer design (which means social media designs in designer’s language) and a logo. 

Before starting the project as a designer I learned from “Thefutur” to first write up a payment proposal to be signed by the client so the workload is agreed upon so there will be no misunderstanding and fair pricing. That way you don’t start working on a project without getting paid for it. There have been many cases where designers make the final work to then be handed to the client without getting paid so the payment proposal acts like a written document to prevent this from happening. 

I first calculated how much time it would take to design the flyer and logo for a fair price. But when I sent him the proposal, he was outraged by the pricing. I tried to explain in detail the workload to clarify the pricing but he didn’t have any understanding of the time and dedication that the project would entail. Since I was just starting out and trying to make a name for myself I chose to continue with this even though there were a lot of red flags, which resulted in me doing more work for less money and he ended up never signing the payment proposal. 

This made me a better designer in knowing that big clients are not well-known people or celebrities that offer you exposure instead of money or try to lower your price because they’re famous just so you get the chance to work with them.

Companies or people who are willing to work with you and pay you a fair price for the workload… those are the BIG CLIENTS!! Remember even when starting small your work has value and to never undervalue yourself just so you can get more cloud!!

If something doesn’t seem right talk about the situation with other designers or people who have been freelancing for a long time so they can give you advice. We need to help one another so we are not taking advantage of.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you? Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

As a multidisciplinary designer, I name myself “The Typographer” because anything to do with typography rather it be graphic, branding, illustration, kinetic typography, 3D, etc you name it, I can do it. I’m very passionate when it comes to design and I’m often told my design gives this “energetic, colorful and positive energy”. For each project, I always start with outlining the goals and then push it to the limits of what is possible or how far I can go in this design or project.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

I have a passion project which is based of my cultural background it’s called “typomento” (@typomento). 

As a project for my graduation and my main question for the last year was: “What makes me different from other Dutch designers?”. I started with where I came from which are the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curacao. I did research in both Aruba, Curacao and interviewed the people that study or work in the creative business. I then came to the conclusion that both islands are multi-cultural islands as is our native language Papiamento (Papiamento is a language derived from African and Portuguese languages, with some influences from Indigenous American languages, English, Dutch and Spanish).

So I started “Typomento” (Type + Papiamento= Typomento) by taking the native language Papiamento and the goal is to try to make it visually understandable for everyone. But it has grown to more than that once it got the attention of other islanders they also wanted to join in on this project, collaborating with creatives, making merch, family, and friends joined in it because it’s now more of a community rather than just a project. 

The main goal was to change peoples perception of the tropical islands. They only think about beaches and cocktails but we have more to offer and I wanted to use my design to break this image!

It was a way to present where I come from and my culture because I believe that where you come from influences how you think, create, and live. I wanted to share my culture and also to teach people to be more open-minded when accepting new cultures as we in the Caribbean learn to accept all these different cultures to make our own identity.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

I believe that design is becoming more diverse! I dream that creativity will be more diverse in the next 5 years. We will see more design directed to a wider range of audience LGBTQ, Minorities, etc. Agencies will be more open-minded to newer perspectives, cultures, and creatives. Creativity will be accepted by everyone no matter what race, gender, handicapped, sex, etc you are!

Where to find Kevin:

Instagram: @kevipj & @typomento

Website: behance.net/kevinrooi

Twitter: @6Kevipj

Photography credits:

Mural image: @davidvandelden

Kev x Ken collab image: @offkendrick.png

Young Capital Kick Off 2019 image: Dennis Bouman

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