I had the pleasure to "sit down" (on different couches in different countries, thanks internet!) with Helsinki graphic designer and illustrator Toni Halonen.
Tell us about your design process. What comes first?
Do you know when you try to remember a name in a conversation your having but it just seems to be lost from your mind? Then afterwards when you have stopped to think about it, it comes to your head from the clear blue sky. My design process is just like that. I read the brief, do a bit of research and the ideas start to come to my head. When I have a general idea I just roll up my sleeves and get down to work... I don't plan that much before hand. I like to discover things along the way so I don't always really know how the final design is going to look before I'm finished.
Pencil and paper or mouse and computer?
Definitely not mouse. Haven't used one in years. I'm trying to find ways of combining both digital and traditional ways; scanning stuff and taking pics. It is refreshing to step away from the computer screen and do something with your hands.
Do you have any favorite design blogs, artists or graphic designers?
I look up to local heroes like Leo Karhunen, Santtu Mustonen and Jesse Auersalo and Australia’s own Jonathan Zawada. Earlier this year I had a pleasure of meeting Horts founder Eike König, I’ve been a fan boy of Horts for some time. I really like their way of doing things. Super inspirational.
I see that you’re also a musician, does that have any influence on your work?
Apart from doing work for the music labels and clubs, that is the culture I come from and I thinks its going to always reflect in stuff I do.
How do you differentiate your illustrations from your graphic design?
I like to see myself just as a designer without compartmentalizing things to illustrations, graphic design or something else, it's all the same. Composing stuff and playing with colors.
Tell us about your style?
Some one once said that my design is minimal with soul and humor... I think thats pretty much nails it. I am really into culture generally. I used to be quite movie freak and I love going to art shows and galleries, it’s just about building this visual storage in your head. All the influences mix in your head and then you pick there somethings subconsciously when your doing your own thing, like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.
What is 'good' design?
I think design is mostly about having good taste generally. Everyone that has good taste could be a designer. I'm not that into a strict swiss type design although there is places for that too. I used to study architecture in a quite traditional school here in Helsinki which teaches ‘form follows function’. Good design looks effortless, brings something new to the table and makes you think why didn't I think about that.
What are the characteristics in your work that makes it your own?
I like to keep my own stuff bit tongue-in-cheek. Things don't always have to be so serious.
Do you have a visual journal or blog?
About a year ago I started to collect inspiring stuff to vis-va.com. Its kind of online moodboard for me, but since I started some people have begun to follow it and thats really nice (although it makes me think twice before posting stuff in it these days). It is a handy platform to test your ideas. If they don't get any love you have to just face that your on the wrong path.
Have you ever been to Australia?
Unfortunately not. My girlfriend used to live there for a while and keeps telling me nice things from there so I definitely want to go!
Other than graphic design and music, what would we find you doing?
I recently bought a risograph printer with two friends. We are starting our own small scale publishing house called "Pages Per Minute”. The plan is to keep everything small and limited whilst getting our hands dirty. I am also quite fascinated about sculptures and installations so thats something I would love to try in the future...
Thanks for talking to us! Where’s the best place to find your work?
Thanks you too! More of my work is available at www.tonihalonen.com