Cover Profile: Bram Vanhaeren

Cover Profile: Bram Vanhaeren

This month’s FFF cover was created by the talented Belgian art director, designer and illustrator Bram Vanhaeren. He took the time to answer a few of our questions from his studio in Antwerp.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Bram, I am 27 years old residing in Antwerp, Belgium. I’m always on a mission to do more. During the night I am privileged to work with some amazing brands as a creative (at night basically) & during daytime I run a secret career at a major bank. Improving the online experience of over a million customers. Thinking different has been a huge struggle during school, now it’s my most valuable asset. Oh – I am a big sport enthusiast training for my first marathon in Paris.

How do you typically approach a new project?

With a winners attitude and a lot of positivity. This in combination with allowing myself (and colleagues) to fuck up. So in the end I (we) simply can’t lose? Beside this masterplan I am the most honest youngster out there and really believe in good communication between colleagues. I want people around me to be completely transparant and not hold back.

Do you try to get feedback from the client at this early stage?

Oh absolutely! I want them to feel as if they belong within the creative process. Because they are. The magic happens when both parties add value to an idea and push the work to another level where everyone is excited and feels like if they are part of this special moment.

Do you focus on one project at a time or are you a multi-tasker?

Definitely a multi-tasker. This is how I operate for the last 5 years. During the day I focus on my tasks at the bank (Design & Art directing) while at night I focus on my creativity and play with energetic portraits and bright colour combinations. I love to “freeze” a project and come back to it with fresh eyes. I think it’s good, during the multi-tasking you allow to switch off, tap into other ideas, another process and a lot of times this leads to improvements or new solutions. On another hand I can also tap into the crazy grind modus as a designer, and pull off some very long sessions, just grind workflows during the creation of a new mobile application for instant.

 

Do you think it’s important to find time for personal projects and why?

It depends on what you call “personal projects”? Because two years ago I approached big projects at the bank as a personal project. And it felts awesome! So today I approach every project as a personal project or simply don’t do it. I trained myself to turn any project into a personal project, I believe you can learn every single time. So in the end – I only do what I love. I can’t imagine doing projects for the sake of what? Maybe I am crazy, at least I trained myself into this habit.

“I simply ask myself, is this a priority or not.”

So — Yes. This idea “to find time to do something” is all about priorities, right? So what I do is, whenever someone asks me to join an event or go for a run. I simply ask myself, is this a priority or not. Simply because calling it a priority is harder then having/making time. Example: as a young dad, when your kid asks you to play with you. It is easy to say “Sorry kid, I am busy, I have to finish this email”. When instead you say to yourself – sorry kid, this email is a higher priority then you. This feels so bad and puts things into perspective. So check yourself if finding time for fun projects is a priority or not.

 

What would be your dream project?

Have you seen the video with “Jim Carey — I need color”? That is the dream.

What do you two listen to while you work?

Depends on my mood but it varies between “Deep focus” playlist on Spotify & “Focus on the Remix”. I am a big fan of Podcasts, but not during my work, only during my commute to work. I like to learn stuff from podcasts and since I am in FLOW and out of this place during the creative process I simply have no idea what’s happening.

What’s your workspace like?

An iMac on a simple desk with a simple chair. Minimalistic.

What do you do to switch off?

I go for a run in preparation of my first marathon or go to the gym. Once every three months I like to travel with my girlfriend and experience new things.

Finishing off with a classic but always useful question, what’s the most important piece of advice anyone has given to you about your work?

I believe it was to enjoy it. Like really appreciate your own work. I am terrible at taking a break and actually taking in a moment to reflect and enjoy my own work. So yeah – stop for a second, look around, breath, enjoy! Celebrate the small victories and become a happier person. Get some perspective on life as a youngster

Glenn Garriock

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