Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Our interviewee today is graphic designer and art director Aleksandar Jordačević. As he likes to say, he lives between Belgium, Slovenia and Serbia. As a student at the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, he began his career in 2003 in one of Slovenia’s leading agencies of that time, Mediamix. He can boast projects such as branding the leading Slovenian multimedia portal Planetsiol.net and the branding of Outfit7, one of the fastest growing companies in the world of entertainment, famous for its global phenomenon, the Talking Tom app. In the Adriatic region he was responsible for managing the brand guidelines for Toyota and Lexus. Aleksandar created the concept for the British franchise of Talking Tom and Friends and was responsible for the art direction of the style guide, which he presented at the largest licensing fair in the world, Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. His projects have also reached the finals at the most prestigious advertising festivals, Cannes Lions and Cresta Awards.
Working for famous agencies such as Saatchi&Saatchi, he had the opportunity to collaborate with cultural institutions and art galleries, fashion brands, companies from the world of architecture and finance.
He has exhibited at home and abroad. One of his favorite exhibitions was the one held in the Belgrade gallery Remont, where he, as a young designer, was supported by Slavimir Stojanović, Futro and Vladan Srdić, Studio 360.
For his previous work, apart from the mentioned Cannes Lions and Cresta Awards, he has won awards at the Golden Drum, SOF, Festival of Design and Interactive Art DeArt in Moscow, Magdalena, the Poster Festival in Ljubljana, the Slovenian Biennial of Visual Communication and many others.
Media Marketing: Since the very beginning of your design career you have been operating at an international level. You started from Slovenia (Mediamix) and now you mostly travel between Belgium, Slovenia and Serbia. How does that work, what are the differences?
Aleksandar Jordačević: During my studies I had already clearly defined that I wanted to build a career outside the borders of my country, which came true. Perhaps it was kind of organic for me, because I always considered the aesthetics of life very important, and you know that in this region the collective consciousness of the aesthetics of living is very low. There are reasons for this, but that’s a topic for another discussion. Operating at the international level has given me the possibility to collaborate, learn and share experiences with people from around the world, which is very important for a young and ambitious man. It’s incredible how you feel an unbelievable ease and transparency in business and communication as soon as you leave the boundaries of our Balkans.
We could talk about the differences from dusk till dawn, so I would rather focus on a couple of positive things. Honestly, I think that in a creative sense, this region of ours has greater potential than much of Europe, which is confirmed each year at the various top international festivals, conferences and meetings. At these international events, I have met many people from this area, which is always a delight. All over the world people are leaving large corporations and founding their own companies, which is becoming a practice here as well. There are more and more start-up companies who seek inspiration in Silicon Valley, rather than outdated business models. People are connecting, establishing independent hubs, they use Kickstarter and other forms of financing their projects. A lot of work is being done and that makes me happy. Younger generations are flexible, they often carry out revisions of what they are doing and they change things if they are not satisfied. Young people accept that as part of the process towards success.
Media Marketing: What are you currently doing in each of the three countries?
Aleksandar Jordačević: I’ve recently founded my own agency and I invest all my time and energy into setting the foundations for growth in these three locations.
Media Marketing: The Cannes Lions, creative directors from the region who won Cannes Lions, will gather at Sarajevo’s Vijećnica on Thursday, 3 March. Among them is Toni Tomašek with whom you collaborated on the FEJ 2005 campaign, which is the only one from the region so far that has entered the finals in the category of integrated campaigns. What was the collaboration like?
Aleksandar Jordačević: I had already joined Toni’s team and was plunged into the whole machinery of advertising as a student. At the invitation of Mediamix agency, where Toni worked, I moved from Belgrade to Maribor. As the first creative director with whom I worked, he definitely marked the beginning of my career and I can honestly say that for me, as a “grasshopper”, working with him was not easy. Back then it seemed frustrating, but now, after so many years, I believe I would have acted the same. He demanded maximum commitment and collaboration on the project and didn’t have much understanding for rookie mistakes. He was quite simply a pro. There is no easier way to learn the job than to swim with the sharks from the very first day. Collaboration on the campaign FEJ 2005 was no exception. When the project came to the agency, we realized that it had the potential for something bigger. Something that could be viral, something that would be talked about. The whole team worked around the clock and the results came through. Finals at Cannes Lions. We were delighted.
Media Marketing: How important for your career was the Belgrade period, where you had an exhibition, started an association with Saatchi, and met Toyota which, if I understood correctly, took you to Saatchi&Saatchi Ljubljana?
Aleksandar Jordačević: The Belgrade period, if you could call the time I spent in Belgrade between Mediamix and Saatchi&Saatchi Ljubljana, was very exciting. At the time, I was finishing my studies and preparing my graduation exhibition. I organized an exhibition in the gallery Remont, as part of the Imunnalimun project. To my great delight, it was supported by Slavimir Stojanović and Vladan Srdić, who appeared as guests. I then started collaborating with the design studio ArnoldVuga from Ljubljana, which later grew into my long freelance career and lasted until 2012. I also worked with the Slovenian branch of the agency Ogilvy Imelda from Belgrade. As someone who already had an international career behind me and several awards, it wasn’t that hard to find a job in a strong Belgrade agency. So I went to work at the agency Publicis, and later at Saacthi&Saacthi. At Saatchi I first crossed paths with Toyota, not knowing that a good part of my career would be linked with this brand alone.
Media Marketing: From Ljubljana Saatchi you worked for Toyota in the entire region, and that’s when the awards started coming in for Toyota innovative city style and Toyota new year sticker. You won awards at SOF and prestigious international festivals. You became a jury favorite. Can you recall those first awards?
Aleksandar Jordačević: The transfer to Saatchi&Saatchi Ljubljana happened somewhat organically. I simply wanted to continue to work at Saatchi&Saatchi abroad. Toyota, as one of the Lovemarks, waited for me in Ljubljana. Work on the campaigns for Toyota was very exciting and it seemed like a contest between all the offices in the Adriatic region. The conceptual design of the winning office would be sold to the client and would appear in all the countries of the region. It was a great honor. We proudly took the win several times. With the rebranding of Toyota and the introduction of new graphic standards these competitions ceased to exist, and I, as art director, in addition to other projects and assignments, also worked on the application and control of the brand guidelines in the whole region. Although all this at first seemed quite uninteresting, it seems to me that this standardization actually created new opportunities to play with the brand. That’s when the previously mentioned work came to be that has brought us recognition at the SOF, Golden Drum and Cresta Awards in New York.
Media Marketing: Do you like awards? Do you work for them or do they come on their own as a result of a job well done? I ask you this because there are people who are in love with awards, who always think of them while working, so I’m just checking.
Aleksandar Jordačević: I believe that anyone who works in the creative industry expects some form of recognition for their work. Whether it’s in the form of raising awareness of a brand on which you work, building long-term relationships with consumers, a higher number of visits to a website that you have designed or prizes in some of the high profile festivals. I don’t hide that I love festival awards and I proudly mention them whenever I can. But that is why I believe that, in addition to good art direction, a campaign, a logo or a website should also bring results in terms of ROI. Here I would like to briefly touch upon the problem faced by the industry today. Designers are insufficiently focused on how their design reflects on the brand for which they work and how it helps clients to achieve their corporate goals. “Make it pretty” is an insufficient and superficial gesture which we meet increasingly often.
Media Marketing: For six years you collaborated as a freelancer with Radovan Arnold, one of the greatest Slovenian creatives from the ArnoldVuga agency. When we look at your career, it’s evident that leading creatives have wanted you in their teams.
Aleksandar Jordačević: My cooperation with Radovan Arnold and his studio began very spontaneously while I was still studying in Belgrade, and after I moved to Ljubljana it developed into a serious collaboration that lasted until 2012. We started with the design of brochures for the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Slovenia and web banners for Laško brewery, and went on to the rebranding of Planet Siol, the leading Slovenian media portal. It’s a long way from a web banner to rebranding, and it was a very interesting and instructive experience. Especially if you take into account that in addition, my client Radovan was also a great mentor from whom I learned a lot, about both design and the industry. Only a few people can boast such an experience, and that’s something for which I feel privileged.
Media Marketing: Designers today are reluctant to seriously step into the digital waters. You succeeded in that with the very first step and Outfit7, a phenomenon in the app industry. You set up the department and worked on the first style guide for the franchise Talking Tom and Friends and its redesign. Was digital a necessity or a choice? What is it that attracts you to digital?
Aleksandar Jordačević: If you’ll allow me I would correct you there. Designers from this area are today quite reluctant to seriously step into the digital waters simply because the environment in which they work is quite digitally illiterate. I think it will take a lot more time for digital here to reach the approximate level it has in Western Europe, let alone on the American continent and in Asia.
In terms of what attracts me the most in digital, it’s the availability. We all we visit the digital world for entertainment, buying stuff or obtaining information. The world is at our grasp 24 hours a day and we are available worldwide.
Was it a necessity or a choice? More like curiosity. I started collaboration with Outfit7 as an associate out of curiosity. Who wouldn’t, if you consider the fact that Outfit7 was for me at that moment a mixture of different disciplines where, in each of them, I wanted to try myself. 3D, 2D, licensing, app development, branding, advertising. All this within a single company, and you are more or less connected with everyone during the development cycle of a product. It’s a real paradise for a creative. At a certain stage of the development of the company the need appeared for a 2D department, where my experience came as a godsend. Collaboration soon turned into the full time job of an in-house art director. One of the more complex projects that I led was the rebrand of the Talking Tom and Friends franchise. It meant a radical change of the brand logo, name, legal name, image, marketing strategy and the tone of communication. In order to establish and implement everything effectively in practice, in parallel we had to develop the style guide for the franchise. That was an even more extensive project that involved establishing a set of standards in print and digital form for designing all of our products. I first presented it at the International Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.
Media Marketing: How will digital influence the future of graphic design? Does it threaten it given the fact that many programmers today, who are not designers by profession, are also engaged in design?
Aleksandar Jordačević: Designers currently live in the so-called digital age. It’s a period which is characterized by a shift from mechanical to digital technology and where we are all affected by the impact of digital software for design and “do it yourself” apps. For the last 30 years Adobe and their products have been affecting both professionals – artists, designers and photographers – and the layman. Adobe develops and sets the standards in video, animation, web, graphics, photography and typography. What also strongly influences the design industry are increasingly available courses, tutorials, sharing practices through mechanisms such as YouTube, Vimeo and Lynda. A large number of companies offer their customers “instant satisfaction” through the internet for very low, almost uncompetitive charge. Simplified services where everyone has the ability to create affordable custom marketing materials. Crowdsource platforms offer customers a choice of a large number of options and solutions with minimal financial compensation. Different design exchanges mainly include cooperation between laymen. Many designers will tell you that their opportunities for work have been taken by the laymen, not the designers themselves.
I believe that designers should simply take all this into account and consciously position themselves in the new order, because that is of the vital importance for the continuation of their work in the field of design.
Media Marketing: After years of freelancing, you decided to open your own studio, Solutio, where, as you say, you help unknown and unrecognized brands. In what? Becoming famous?
Aleksandar Jordačević: As an agency, we define a strategy that allows our clients to reach their full potential in order to create and retain new customer value, or rather the customer satisfaction that a consumer feels after buying their product or the service they provide. We help them reach a greater number of new customers while retaining existing ones. We help them to redefine their brand by implementing the design as the foundation of the culture of their company. Solutio inspires a change in culture within the companies and inspires all employees to accept it.
We create solutions for achieving results. We work for the people, with the people. That’s what Solutio is all about.
Media Marketing: Your plans in the near future?
Aleksandar Jordačević: To work for the people, with the people. :)