Designer of the Week Joash Berkeley, a Savannah College of Art & Design motion design student and aspiring creative director, recently reached out to the PRINT team about his typography-driven personal project called One in Seven Billion. When he explained that his goal for the project is not only to inspire people, but to help them take positive action in their lives, we suspected there was more where that came from—that is, that Berkeley’s creative mission in life, so to speak, has led to great things already, and will continue to lead to more.
Name: Joash Berkeley
Name of Design School: Savannah College of Art & Design
Location: Savannah, Georgia
How would you describe your work?
I tend to keep my work very concept-driven—whether it means there’s a very obvious concept or a subliminal one that the viewer discovers over time. I think it’s important to have a story to what you do, even if it’s a single frame, as we are in the industry of visual storytelling. My background comes from branding, print design and graphic design, so a lot of that structural philosophy in communicating visual concepts has strongly influenced the way I tell stories with moving pixels. I’ve recently been breaking away from that systematic form of design and loosening up =).
Where do you find inspiration?
In the past, my sole inspiration came from the work other artists produced. Though other projects still continue to inspire me, I find it important now to look at non-design sources as inspiration. I design for people, and people are interested in projects that connect with them emotionally. So my inspiration now comes from things that evoke emotion in life; for example: our natural environments, societal norms, human challenges and perceived flaws. If I had to describe one thing that inspires me the most, [it’s] our behavior as human beings under stressful situations. There’s a lot that you can pull out of how we think as individuals as well as in groups when faced with the pressures of life.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
Patrick Clair inspires me the most. His philosophy toward concept-driven design is impeccable. He has this unique ability to take the overall story, in all its complexity and depth, and somehow compress it down to one critical message that provokes you to figure out the rest of the story. Like in the movie “Inception,” he has the ability to drop the right idea into the viewer’s mind, so that it becomes a catalyst for discovering the bigger picture.
Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
One In Seven Billion is definitely my favorite project. Not only was it enjoyable to make, it also allowed me to reflect on my personal development. Before this project, I felt a deep sense of lack in terms of technical skill, and I became very self-critical because of that. When I finished one project, I felt the urge to make something more technically savvy. I felt the expectation being placed upon me by my peers to produce better and better every time, and I put a relentless pressure on myself to meet these expectations at such a young age.
It was a novel experience being able to express my emotions and thoughts so fluidly, something often difficult to express through design. The project stems a lot from my own personal challenges and the experiences of close people in my life. I realized that it was a common theme that we subject ourselves to constant self-scrutiny to match benchmarks placed on us by our environments, loved ones and society. I felt an urgency to speak against that burden. This human empowerment through design is what inspires my personal work the most.
Check out the full project analysis of One In Seven Billion here.
Credits: Joash Berkeley (designer/animator/writer); Alex Wiggins (writer); Henrik José (music/sound); Viktor Rodriguez (voice); Antony Lawrence (voice recording); Eugene De Guzman (quote handlettering)
Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge so far?
My Rolex Daytona (Rube Goldberg) project was the most demanding project I’ve completed. It was my first attempt at 3D animation and with only three weeks to execute such a farfetched concept, I set myself up to several full days of rigorous hours of work.
I had to learn Cinema 4D and Maya as I went along. I spent day and night for the first two weeks watching tutorials, modeling and animating, making mistake after mistake, and adapting to them as I went along. The last week I spent lighting, texturing, setting up cameras and rendering on over fourteen school computers. It was a wild experience; and to cap it off I spent the last 6 days in one my university classrooms without sleep in order to complete it 4 minutes before the deadline.
Completing this project was a pivotal moment in my life. My body had taken a significant toll on the relentless lack of sleep and I, of course, felt very ill after the project. I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow my passion for design push me to a point of crippling my health to meet a deadline. I don’t regret it, as I definitely needed that tragic experience in order to learn what not to do and I’ve adapted now, but I don’t plan on repeating the same mistake with any project again.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
My core goal is to make work that moves people beyond just mere appreciation. I want 60 seconds to feel so potent that it demands your reflection on what you’ve experienced throughout the rest of your day. To clarify, to positively impact the way people think, live, or how we view each other. I don’t have to be the best designer in the world. I’ve developed the culture to ask a lot of questions to learn technical skills in order to execute what I set my mind to do, and so the technical aspect of design has become reflexive for me to learn and adapt to. Therefore, what’s left to continually accomplish is to make work that encourages human development beyond the pixels of the screen. How I do this would most likely be by means of a creative director.
What’s your best advice for your peers?
Forget design for a second, and see that it’s simply the medium of communication. It’s the vessel of messages, thoughts and emotions. Focus more on what you want people to feel rather than what you want them to see. Thinking in this perspective changes everything. It removes the fear of technical incapability, and it emphasizes the humane aspect of what we do as visual storytellers. Instead of becoming better designers, become better people who design; be ethical in what you do, stay humble and hungry to learn, care more about who you intend on exposing your work to and know that what you do is powerful enough to change lives.
If I can slip in one more piece of advice that shouldn’t go unmentioned: know that what you do is not a result of purely your own work/ability. No matter how good you are at whatever it is you do, you are not the source of your talent. Understanding that what we do is through partnership with a greater source other than ourselves will show you that you may be able to produce amazing work on your own, but in the counsel of many you’ll be able to achieve a greater level of impact you never knew you could attain. Be the annoying one and arm yourself with questions, because no matter how much you know, the unique experience and knowledge outside of your own will inevitably make your work more dynamic and more powerful.
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