#013 – Talking graphic design; conversations with Ana Duje

This week, Creative Collective caught up with graphic designer Ana Duje; notable for her editorial work involving strong colour palettes, textures and bold shapes. Here’s what she had to share:

CC: Briefly tell us a little bit about yourself?

AD: I’m an Argentinian designer based between Barcelona and Hong Kong. Now I’m mostly doing illustration. Married to a Norwegian. Love traveling and the 60’s.

CC: What kind of design projects interest you?

AD: Everything related to illustration, but mainly editorial. Projects like this one for Washington Post, this one for Vox, or this one for Keatext, where I have to conceptualise something based on some text content are always very fun. Also, I really liked making this sticker pack for Snapchat (and some other ongoing projects for big brands that I can’t share yet!)

CC: If you could sum up your graphic design style/motif, how would you?

AD: In general terms, my work illustrates urban everyday-life situations, with strong color palettes, bold but simple shapes, and patterned textures. I’ve had people feature me with some very funny/interesting descriptions, like this one from @aigaeyeondesign: “pretty radical illustrations of women that will take you back to the cool 80’s of shoulder pads and aqua-net”, or this one that Domestika.org made this article (in Spanish). They say my work is based on “anthropomorphic figures created from geometric shapes, pastel colours that mix with brighter ones, and a surprising imitation of reality”.

CC: We love the colours you choose. Do you have a ‘go-to’ consistent array of colour palettes you incorporate into your work, or do you just use what you think works in the moment?

AD: As you may have noticed, I always use some sort of pink. I normally go for the more “RGB-like” colours, that certainly won’t print so bright. So, in my personal work or for those clients who give me total freedom, I’d normally use pink, black or dark grey, and red. Otherwise, I adapt to the client’s color palette or take inspiration from some other good illustrators.

CC: At what age did you realise you were passionate about graphic design?

AD: I think when I was about eighteen, when I started studying architecture and I left after six months. I realised I wanted to do graphic design, but opted for advertising as it was, in that moment, a broader option for me. But I ended up working as a graphic designer anyway!

CC: Who are your favourite designers or artists?

AD: Hard question. There are so many! But the first one that comes to mind is Malika Favre. I love her capacity to synthesise a whole composition within a few lines.

CC: What are your graphic design career goals? Any companies/clients you’d love to work for?

AD: Monocle Magazine or Apple.

CC: Are your designs influenced in any way by your previous designs? Do you aim for a consistent design ethos?

AD: I’m always mindful of my style and try to keep the coherence throughout my whole work. That doesn’t mean I don’t evolve and try to make it better and better. There’s a lot of little new things I’ve been adding/taking away from my designs lately, and every new design is better than the previous one, in my eyes.

CC: How does it feel to have worked with Snapchat on your funky stickers for them? How does it feel knowing millions have seen or used them? We think they’re great!

AD: *laughs* it was really good. The client was super friendly and clear in the brief and feedback. I’m very proud of that project.

CC: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

AD: Mostly in the street, believe it or not.

CC: Which design software do you use and why do you like it?

AD: Adobe Illustrator FOREVER. At this point it’s an extension of my hands. Needless to say, it’s the best software for vector illustration.

CC: What qualities do you consider necessary for a good designer?

AD: I could name a thousand things, but they would be things you can learn. No one is born knowing how to do this, as in many professional fields. The most important thing in my experience is to be a good observant and be curious. And always keep trying to be better. I never like my work, to be honest. I mean, I like it but I always think there’s something I could’ve done differently, and that makes me grow a lot.

CC: How do you handle criticism on your work? Does it ever upset you?

AD: Of course it’s always harsh, because an artist puts their heart and soul into the work, but criticism is always a way of growing, as long as it’s constructive.

CC: What has been the most enjoyable project for you to work on, and why?

AD: I can’t reveal any information yet (ongoing project!)

CC: What do you consider to be the hardest part about working as a graphic designer/artist?

AD: Most of the time the biggest challenge is trying to find a middle ground between what I like and what the client asks for. But luckily I have great clients!

CC: What do you feel, personally, is your greatest accomplishment? It doesn’t have to be artwork or design related.

AD: *laughs* Moving to Europe from Argentina with just a few € and no job!

CC: Based on your experience, do you have any advice for budding or enthusiastic prospective graphic designers?

AD: Less is more, less is more, less is more. And don’t fall in love with your designs. Be self-critical.

CC: Anything else you’d love to share or any closing words?

AD: Follow me on Instagram!

Ana Duje is an Argentinian graphic artist, working between Barcelona and Hong Kong.​
Her work is particularly recognised for its strong color palettes, bold but simple shapes, and patterned textures. Check out Ana’s social media:
 anaduje.design   anaduje.com   /anaduje