Kuudes

We caught up with Tony Eräpuro, Art Director, senior designer and partner at Kuudes, who chatted to us about how creating a magazine for his university dissertation helped swing the kind of jobs he wanted, learning how to pick your battles, and shares some advice you might've heard in other places.

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

I studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (UAL). I did both my foundation year and the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Graphic Design (1+3 years). School was fun and both fellow students and tutors were next level. I mean, talents like Jean Jullien, Villalba-Lawson, Helios Capdevila, Johanna Bonnevier, Thibaud Herem, Cameron Temple and many more Google-worthy were all in my year. Everyone was working hard and pushing the bar high in terms of design quality. I was super happy to have Patrick Lacey as my main tutor. He was working for Åbäke, one of the studios I really admired. They were really hot, working on clients like Daft Punk, Hussein Chalayan, Serpentine Gallery, Maison Martin Margiela, Peter Jensen, Martino Gamper, Kitsuné, London Design Museum, V&A. As part of our school work, it was not unusual to have design briefs from Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, etc. It was a very inspiring and exciting time to be starting as a young designer.

My first design jobs… I did lots of design posters and logos for friends in exchange for beer or the clothes they designed, but my first “corporate” style jobs were paid internships at Wallpaper and ELLE Decoration magazines. At the time I was an avid reader of design mags like Wallpaper, Grafik, i-D, The Face, Dazed, Arena, Icon, Fantastic Man, Monocle, etc. I mean, think of magazines. It is graphic design all over. I really liked editorial design a lot — I wrote my dissertation about magazines and my final project was designing my very own magazine, which I then used in my portfolio to nail the work placements.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

My plan was always to learn a lot, build a good portfolio and gain experience through work placements before graduation, so that I could go straight into a paying job after finishing school. Finding paid work was basically the biggest worry for all students, because London is a very competitive market and an expensive place to live in. I had also a part-time job throughout uni, so I wasn’t too panicked since I had something to fall back on in the meantime. Via my part-time job I ended up working as a full-time in house designer in an architectural and engineering office called Arup London. Work varied from exhibition design, book design, marketing materials, competition boards, model making, etc. It was hands-on and I also got to travel around the globe a little and meet star architects like Toyo Ito, Rem Koolhaas, Sanaa Architects and artists Tomàs Saraceno and Anish Kapoor.

Design work by Kuudes The Design Kids interviews Kuudes work-2

What are some of the best and worst parts of your job, day-to-day?

The best part of the job is being happy about my work and knowing that I actually enjoy and love what I do for a living.

Mondays are fine. 9 to 5 goes fast and longer days can be exciting and a good challenge sometimes (depending on the project). I enjoy the variety of clients, people, and different projects I get to work on and designing can be refreshing and uplifting. You kind of get a new canvas every time and it is up to you how you go at it, so creative expression can be met.

Then again… some projects are nice and some simply are not. Certain clients are easier to work with than others, more receptive to your design than others. But it is normal, no matter how much you love it, it is work after all. Knowing your own skills, your limits and having a solid work ethic can get you far. After years of experience, you learn how to pick your battles and waste less energy on collateral stuff.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Coffee & InDesign. Emails & InDesign. Slack and InDesign. Lunch & InDesign. Meetings & InDesign. InDesign & InDesign.

Design work by Kuudes The Design Kids interviews Kuudes work-4
Design work by Kuudes The Design Kids interviews Kuudes work-4

Knowing your own skills, your limits and having a solid work ethic can get you far.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

I always wanted to work with arts and culture projects just like studios Åbäke, APFEL, Made Thought, GTF, SPIN on clients like Design Museum, TATE Modern, Serpentine Art Gallery, White Cube, V&A, etc. I am happy I get to do so on a local scale in Helsinki, but still with international artists. I have been able to work on visual identities and books for key exhibitions at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Some of the artists I have had the honour to work with have been Olafur Eliasson, Alicja Kwade, and Tatsuo Miyajima.

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Top three: Live life to the MAX. Just Do It. Enjoy responsibly.

Design work by Kuudes The Design Kids interviews Kuudes work-6
Design work by Kuudes The Design Kids interviews Kuudes work-6

Where to find Kuudes online.

Website: kuudes.com

Instagram: @kuudes / @tony.erapuro

Twitter: @KuudesDesign

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