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Graphic skimming over the madding crowd

25/03/2021 5 min read

Graphic skimming over the madding crowd

Reading Time: 5 minute

He has been working in advertising since 2010, but he took some breaks turning towards the film marketing industry or working for record companies and festivals. Currently, Vlad Mihai is Art Director at Publicis and first 2021 Biz cover bears his signature.

How does graphic art continues through the pandemic that still haunts society?

Normally, this type of crisis generates topics. Or, it provides a context for discussion with new things to analyse. As we now witness fast paced evolution in medicine, transportation, real estate or a small reform of today’s industries, I believe that the art world is sailing through rough but adventurous waters. Precisely because it is a crisis that concerns all humanity, it anchors us very deeply in the present we live at the exact same time. The shared consciousness has synchronized a little better. And the role of any kind of art in moments like these is to provide clarity, relatability or emotional comfort, or a temporary escape window. I felt changes on a personal level, so from this point of view the pandemic didn’t haunt me, but flew over me and warned me in some regards. Looking back, 2020 was one of the liveliest of years, so far, for me. And that becomes good material for creation.

Agency work versus freelancer: advantages, experiences, recommendations for those who take first steps in the field.

Both. There is no love of your life from the movies. Along the way, you will love more people in different ways and each will leave you with something valuable. You need to be present in what is happening to you, without the fear that it will disappear. On the other hand , the benefits of a fixed salary, a health insurance or the freedom of one’s own projects are obvious. I think it’s like sleep, it works differently for everyone. Of course, 8 hours a day are recommended, but you can do it in stages or sleep during the day and work at night. For those who are just starting out: „see what works”. See how 2-3 years in the agency are, see how other agencies are, change clients, change creative directors. Speed dating. Find a mentor. There are football players who became good players because they looked up to Ronaldo, not because they liked football. In the meantime, develop your portfolio and take on new clients. The direction will find its way. One prepares you for the other, so you become pretty complete if you play both sports.

What artists inspire you?

I recently liked the exhibition of Piranesi’s engravings from MNAR. It traces back to a time (300 years ago) when people were a little more settled and more patient. And I think we have lost that slower pace that is beneficial for some things. Of course, it is good, if we can, to be fast and efficient, although it is almost psychedelic to slow down a little these days. The series of engravings focuses on the ancient Rome buildings, presented in a colossal way – people are some diminished figures, hunchbacked and very busy ,all lined up along the streets: they are all doing something, being caught „in this rat race” and together they look like water flowing down to the base of the buildings that will be there a long time after they are no longer alive. I think this is what we should take from the past, not necessarily the craft or the patience to carry out an ample work, but the zoomed out macro vision, about the world. I got bored of the individual’s drama. At the same time, I am looking through my daily insta news, from where I get the visual references and inspiration. It is necessary to know what times you are living in. The exhibition of MNAR is available until March.

Vlad Mihai did the rebranding for Trenta Pizza, which repositioned itself as „the biggest small pizzeria” from Bucharest

How do you relate as an artist to an online art gallery?

I follow online galleries from other countries but wherever I can go, I go. They are still open here. It is good to visit them and discuss what you see. You remember them differently than from two or three scrolls and a screenshot on the phone. It is like trying on clothes in the store versus online shopping. You see it for yourself as you get your hands on the fabric, or maybe you find something in the store that you like but don’t need. It would be nice to have impulse buyers in art as well. The online theater becomes a movie. The online gallery becomes Pinterest. Nothing beats the real thing.

Vlad Mihai
„The role of any kind of art in moments like these is to provide clarity, relatability or emotional comfort, or a temporary escape
VLAD MIHAI, artist and Art Director at Publicis window. ”

What are your working „tools”?

Paper more often than screen. Wood more often than canvas. The programs help a lot to experiment and quickly go through imagination. I’m working on a series of pyrographs now just to change the pace into a slower one. Among the modern tools I was amazed by something called remarkable2. A very thin tablet with electronic ink (kindle tech) and a two weeks  autonomy. It has to be called magic paper or something because that’s how it feels. It does not emit light and the screen has a stronger feeling when drawing than the iPad + the paperlike foil.

Some important projects you have worked on or have been involved in.

From the agency, by far the best project was Bucureștiul Întreprinzător (Entrepreneurial Bucharest) for Banca Transilvania. It was realized with the help of real people who posed naturally and were telling stories in a simple and normal manner. It was good because of its lack of an ideal image of any kind. It was one of the first projects like this, in which the brand gave the media space to the people and the shift was on „your story” for real, not on the words like „people like you” in a headline. And since it was super fun, another best project was the rebranding for Trenta Pizza. I do not  mention it only for the visual aspect, but also for the fact that they agreed to reposition themselves as „the biggest small pizzeria”, having embraced the status of a neighborhood pizzeria that makes really good pizza. I also mention the sabbatical year in which I worked for Untold where the process and „the leap of faith” were more interesting than the actual design work being done. As I said above, it is the kind of side moves that make you even more whole.

What did you do with „Cutărică”? Was it a stage in your life, a stage in your activity that you have left behind, or is it still the „spirit” through which you express yourself graphically?

Cutărică was created to cancel the identity. It should not matter who has done the work, that work has to be able to exist independently of the author. I think it is important to see things like that sometimes, without any prestige, to look at the movie not at the director. I was doing a lot of projects such as public interest announcements, Romanian fairytale covers, the rebranding of „I digg wells”, and it seemed appropriate to me. But it got paradoxical once I started to collaborate with brands and to make commissioned work only because the signature is important there. I had a creative adolescence and it is a thing of the past now. I did not end it so I could get commercial work, but it is necessary to embrace your own name at a certain time.

Translation Supported by AB Traduceri

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