Today a Designer Interview With Jérémie Fesson & Mathias Rabiot – Graphéine who is a French Graphic Design agency created in 2002 by like-minded and lively designers from various professional walks of life, all addicted to design.
— The Logo Creative™ ✏ (@thelogocreative) January 24, 2018
Mathias gave birth to Graphéine in 2002 with Jérémie, his partner in crime since Duperré School. He’s an all-rounder in charge of the global coherence -both human and creative- in the agency.
As a humanist, he believes in emotions and values driven by an accessible, joyful and simple kind of design. When he doesn’t play guitar to Bowie, he occasionally shouts “c’est beau, oui !”.
Jérémie who co-created Graphéine with Mathias shares the same minimalist, playful and accessible vision of design. He trained in graphic design at Estienne and Duperré, where he became a Bézier curve addict. He actually has superpowers: he sees life in vector. Quite handy when it comes to transforming corporate B2B identities into sexy outcomes.
The Logo Creative – Thanks Jeremie & Mathias for been part of our designer interview, its a pleasure to be featuring you both and the Graphéine studio.
Graphéine – Thanks a lot for your interest and happy to be apart of this interview
Graphéine (Jérémie Fesson) – I didn’t know anything about the profession of graphic designer until I was graduated from high school and tried to find a way to earn a living with my drawing skills, by entering an applied arts bridging course. Until then I guess I was a regular teen boy from Paris’ suburbs. I was deeply into pop culture, very found of american, japanese and european comics and also very passionate about the gaming industry.
As a kid, I was a big magazine consumer and always excited when entering a bookshop. I was very attracted by the diversity of colors and topics of magazines covers (it was before the Internet world). And then one day, when I was around 16, a friend asked me to design a commercial poster for the caribbean restaurant of his parents. As far as I remember this was my first graphic design job. But I didn’t have a clue how to handle such a project! All I knew was that the poster needed to be huge! I had some paper sheets fixed on a ping pong table and started the portrait of a charming typical caribbean couple. Of course it took me ages to achieve the full poster. If only I knew the power of typography at this time!
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Graphéine – Each day starts at 9-ish. At the beginning of the week we’re holding a team meeting, to review the ongoing projects. It’s a time for everyone to show their advancements and to talk collectively about the issues they may face. Solutions are often debated during these meetings, it’s a moment of vivid exchanges.
Then everyone goes back to their own work. If need be, we brainstorm in small groups on new or tricky projects. Many informal exchanges take place throughout the day, while keeping an atmosphere of concentration in the office.
The day ends at 6-ish. We do our best to respect this timing, to not interfere with everyone’s personal life. Ensuring this work-life balance makes it possible to have employees who are happy to come to work in the morning and happy to return home at the end of the day.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logo of all time?
Graphéine – The Louvre Museum logo is a marvel. It was designed by the Grapus studio in 1989, during the construction of the pyramid of the Louvre by Ieoh Ming Pei.
The name of the Louvre appears in majesty and the Granjon typography reminds us of the
monumental letters hammered into the stone of the building. And then, the sky. A sky that opens up above the pyramid of glass. Like a window on the sky, like the frame of a painting, the evocation of an opening onto the world, of time passing by, and of the immateriality of knowledge.
In the end, it is a paradoxical logo that plays on the stable (of the establishment, the framing), the monumental (typography, the immensity of the sky) and the evanescence (the fluidity of an informal matter). It is a promise of infinite poetic wonder.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Graphéine – A strong team spirit. We rarely work with freelancers and there’s no heavy hierarchy.
We love working together and offering tailored solutions to our clients.
We also use a great dose of pedagogy. Almost all the projects of the agency are presented on our blog, and each time we review the project in a transparent way. This generally helps our clients to understand better the work required behind each project. Often the result looks simple, but the design process wasn’t!
Sincerity matters a lot to us. We talk without fear about our errors, our doubts. In return, we feel free to point out what we see as non-relevant when we talk to a client. We stand for our ideas, at the risk of appearing unpleasant 🙂
The Logo Creative – In your opinion regarding Logo Design pricing do you prefer working on a fixed rate or customer budget and can you explain why?
Graphéine – We don’t have a price sheet, each project is different and tailor-made. To make budgets, we analyse the complexity of the project, its destination and broadcast, the time we’ll spend on it, and the interest we have in it. With experience, we can find the fair price. The one that allows us to work comfortably to achieve the best results. We’re somewhat our first clients, as we set high standards from the Beginning.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Graphéine – Each project is unique. Sometimes the concept of a logo comes up very quickly when some other times we have to work several weeks or months to find the right idea.
If we are not very fond of bid for tenders, we must admit that this type of competition forces us to go straight to the point. Sometimes very good concepts come up in these kinds of challenging contexts.
On the other hand, when we have time to talk with the client, to make several appointments, we tend to experience more things. This greatly extends the creative process. In the end, both processes are interesting to practice and offer our designers different work rhythms.
The Logo Creative – Are you a MAC or PC User and is there a reason for your choice?
Graphéine – We’re MAC users as we were trained on it (long ago!).
Our computer equipment has been gradually enlarged on this basis, and it is much easier to manage compatible machines. But in practical terms, we don’t give much importance to these things. Our IT needs are modest. Choosing sketchbooks and pens is more important than choosing any type of screen! Indeed, our main working tool remains the blank sheet.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently?
Graphéine – Adobe Illustrator 70%, Adobe Indesign 15 %, Adobe Photoshop 15%
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Graphéine – We don’t have a favorite style as long as the idea is simple, smart, and original for the largest number or people. A logo must bring as much knowledge as it must project desire. The whole must be inspiring for all the communications.
We like projects designed with a humanistic vision. We never make “graphical” demonstrations of
strength. And if we are of course sensitive to experimental graphic design, we don’t wish to put
forward “visual feats”. What really matters is solving a complex problem in the simplest way for many people as possible.
In the Saint-Étienne Opera House’s logo, the accent on the word « Opéra” is both a graphic
representation of the pagoda that overlooks the roof of the building and the promise of a place of cultural delight open to everybody. For this project, our visual response was strongly impacted by a tough social climate within the teams of the Opera. It seemed relevant to work on restoring pride to the staff of the Opera. We, therefore, carried out the communication campaign with the amazed portraits of all the employees. From technicians, reception staff, to administrative staff.
The result is a pluralistic and joyful campaign that has allowed all these people to regain a sense of belonging to this great opera house
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Graphéine (Mathias Rabiot) – I did a one-year post-diploma program after studying graphic design at Duperré School in Paris.
During this transitioning year between studies and working life, I found a six-month internship at Euro- RSCG Paris. This short period taught me a lot about the reality of the professional world. Later, I worked 8 months for a start-up that unfortunately went banrupt… Luckily I had kept in touch with one of our clients, who hired me to design a festival poster. This is how I decided to become a freelance designer, in 2001.
The following year, I teamed up with a friend who was also freelancer. Between 2002 and 2005, we went from 2 to 5. We defined a name, a brand identity… Graphéine was born.
Between 2010 and 2011, I was divided between my personal life in Lyon and my professional one in Paris. After many round trips, I finally decided to settle in Lyon, that’s why the agency is now existing in two cities.
Today, we’re an agency of a dozen of talents. Both teams are organized around a creative director — Jérémie Fesson in Paris and I in Lyon — a studio manager, art directors and graphic designers.
Despite the distance between the 2 offices, we have developed some tools to share creative
thoughts. Thanks Dropbox, Trello and co!
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Graphéine – We share a lot about our professional experience on our blog. A few years ago we had written (in French) a series of articles on the subject: Being a designer – instructions for use:
Here’s the introduction of the first article:
“I am 12 years old. I’m a graphic designer, a designer, a company manager or a freelancer. What is sure is that I have 12 years of experience in the design field. Beginning as a freelancer, I quickly realized that a working day isn’t about 8 hours but rather 10/12 hours. I am 12, but like dogs, you can multiply my age by a coefficient”. So the advice would definitely be that you need to work a lot.”
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Graphéine – Do a quick layout of the complete content first, design the details next.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Graphéine – Don’t design for graphic designers, design for the people.