Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
Hey there. My name is Harouth Arthur Mekhjian but probably a bit better known as ‘artin’ from artingrpahics. I am currently 19 years old and I study architecture at University of Bath in UK. I would like to consider myself a designer but I feel like I haven’t earned the title yet. I have been working mainly freelance for 2-3 years now but have some experience at some local design firms and now I have founded my own small agency.
How would you describe your style? What makes it distinct?
I have not developed a definitive style just yet as I like to experiment and try myself in a large array of disciplines and techniques. Although I can’t be credited for having a single style when going through my work I do certainly notice some distinct features that pop-up quite often. Some of the ones that I can say of the top of my head are clean colours, crisp shapes and the fact that I tend to shy away from current trends and build up my work around the idea that it won’t ‘go out of fashion’ in five years’ time.
You have lived in places all over the world and on several continents. How did that affect your style/your view on design? Did it widen your horizon?
Having lived all over the place ranging from South East Asia, the Middle East and all the way to the UK, I can definitely say that it has affected my way of thinking and my manner of work a great deal. First of all it has given me the ability to interact with different people from different backgrounds allowing me to understand my clients better. In terms of the visual influence on my work I have been especially affected by the Asian culture with its preciseness and finesse. From time to time I tend to borrow elements and ideas from these cultures and try and incorporate them in my works. I like to think that because of the fact that I have lived in so many places it has given my work the ability to be understood by a global audience.
You are currently studying architecture in Bath, UK. Are you rather an architect or a designer? How do these two subjects connect? Are there a lot of similarities or differences?
To be honest I personally do not think of them as very different as for me the creative process is almost identical with both of the disciplines with the only major difference being the scale and the medium that you work in. I actually use my skills from one profession in the other as much as I can. For example stuff that you learn in architecture like the ability to understand space and what effects it has on an individual translates very well into both print and web design as you create a virtual space or a space on a piece of paper while trying to evoke certain feeling or emotions for the person using the object in question. And again I wouldn’t call myself neither as I have still heaps to learn in both disciplines, maybe I’ll call myself an architect when I get my degree but we’ll see about the designer part.
After having worked several years as a freelancer besides school/university, you founded recently a design agency in your home country Armenia. Could you explain us this a bit more detailed?
As mentioned before I am still at university so I didn’t always have the time to work on my design commissions. My solution to the problem was to establish a small agency and form a small design team with the same aspirations as me, who could carry out the commission work with the same level of quality and standards that I would have done otherwise. So I started a search for young talent here in Armenia and a couple of months later I can happily say that we have an awesome 3 man design team which includes 2 graphic designers and a 3D artist. We also have an in-house development team that does all the coding magic for our web design and mobile app design commissions.
What does it take to open up an agency? Have there been any difficulties? What’s the situation like in Armenia for designers/design agencies?
Obviously similarly to any other new businesses there are always difficulties when you start off. My main difficulty was actually finding the people I needed that were willing to work for artingrpahics as most of the people who were talented and had the same dream as me already had other commitments so they could not possibly join me. But after a good look I was eventually successful in finding them.
As for the situation in Armenia in terms of design agencies I would say that it is quite hard as well due to the fact that the post-soviet society is not very receptive of new ideas and methods of doing things. People tend to believe in the old methods. Especially on the business side people still do not comprehend the importance of design, for example in branding and identity design people often think it is a waste of time and money to commission for a brand design as they think that its only for the looks. Hence there is some misconception about the profession and often the profession is treated with disrespect. I have been even called out by a client once, I quote “it’s not even a real profession, you just draw stuff”. But all these problems can be solved very easily through constant exposure to the world of design and the importance that it has. It is only a matter of time.
What inspires you? Do you have any design idols?
I have found myself being inspired heavily from literature and especially mythology. The reason for this I guess is the vast amount of symbolism that I come across when reading mythology and as an enthusiast of brand identities and logo designs find these very amusing and inspirational.
As for a design idol again because of my love for identity design David Airey has got to be my idol. Although I found out about him very late I was still amazed by his works and the process that he goes through when developing a brand. Needless to say I am a huge fan of his books which although might seems quite simplistic at times definitely convey the essence of the profession. A few other people that I very much look up to and adore their work are James White, Fabio and Graham Smith.
Could you maybe share one of your recent works with us and explain it briefly? (What was the task, what did you do to solve it etc.)
One of the latest projects that we worked on was a branding project that we did for a Swedish consulting company called VS Scandinavia. They wanted they’re brand to have a Scandinavian feel and convey the idea that collaboration with them would give their clients infinite possibilities. You can find the project over at our Behance portfolio. We found a solution to the problem by researching a bit about the Scandinavian culture, specifically the old symbols (knots) that derive from Norse mythology. The client loved the simplicity of the concept and we were good to go.
What are your expectations for the future, in architecture, design and the agency?
Honestly I am just going with the flow and want to see where time takes me. I haven’t set myself any specific goals of any sort. What I would like to see though is that when someone would stumble on any of my work, be it architecture or graphic design I could proudly say that is MY work.
Any last words you want to share with our readers? Any advice, maybe?
First of all I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity, I have had a fun time doing this interview and also I would just want to tell anyone that it is never too late or too early to start doing what you love to do. Also just a bit of a shameless self-advertisement: you can find us over at www.artingraphics.net or on Behance.