Meet the young graphic designer with some of Paris’ most exclusive clients under her belt. Laura Berthier offers her thoughts on art as commodity, and what defines her as a designer.
SPACES: Hi Laura, can you tell us about what you do?
Laura Berthier: I’m a graphic designer hailing from Paris. I moved to Amsterdam two years ago and before that worked for a design agency in Paris creating for luxury brands in cosmetics, fashion and alcohol. I studied applied arts, visual communication and global design. I specialise in brand identity, from logos to environmental graphics and everything in between. I love combining different artistic layers to achieve one creative vision. Global design brings together designers with very different skills and specialisations to collaborate and create a consistent narrative and brand project. It’s a very multi-layered, richly textured process of production. It’s like making a tapestry.
What does your kind of work entail?
When I work with new clients, it’s important for me to immerse myself in the identity of the brand. I’ll work with the stylist to learn the development of their brand, understand how they are working, so the identity becomes second nature to me and I can make my work in-line with their projects. They have an objective perspective of how their creative vision should be, and it’s my job to contribute to the conception and execution of that by leading them to the best graphic solution.
Can you tell us about some of the projects you have worked on in the past?
I worked on Invictus by Paco Rabanne. This was an incredibly important project for me. We worked on it for six months, from print and digital design, to scenography, to the product launch itself. I learned a lot on this project which has been a personal highlight of my career so far. The creative team on this was relatively big: We had a creative director who was responsible for the whole artistic concept, two scenographers, a product designer, and me, the graphic designer. The end project was technically really difficult to achieve. I love it when something seems impossible – to say “I want this but I don’t know how to achieve it”, is exciting. It’s a challenge. It takes a lot of experimenting with new techniques and alternative ways of thinking. In the end, Invictus was a big success.
You are creating aesthetic experiences. Do you consider graphic design an art?
I don’t think of graphic design as an art. It’s work that you make for clients, it has a communication goal. Some graphic designers have their own strong style, and when they are hired, they are hired for their visual signature. So in a way these designers are kind of artists. But this is something I don’t think appears through my work. Nevertheless, art is still a great source of inspiration for me.
Do you think this is something that will develop over time?
No. I develop my own creative approach, but I’m not sure it will become such a strong signature over the years that people will recognise my work at a glance. I think you either have it or you don’t.
Surely early in your career it’s good not to have it, because this gives you versatility. If you have a specific style and are relatively unknown, people will have a strong opinion about that.
I don’t know, I think there are two different ways of being a graphic designer. I prefer to reinvent myself for each project. I combine what I love with what the client needs. In the case of the graphic designers who have their own strong signature, the bad side is that they often make the same things, which isn’t good unless you’re well known, but on the other hand it could be really exciting having such a strong, committed identity.
You say that graphic design isn’t an art because it has an end goal, but doesn’t art have the same end goal?
It’s true that art’s end goal is to be hung in a gallery and sold. They share this commodification in common. Art can be beautiful and provocative, but it’s still a commodity like everything else. So in essence, it’s the same. But when we think of the question “what is art?”, it’s something that evokes strong emotions. It’s more about the aesthetic experience other than the end product itself. Having said that, If you have strong emotions for my work I will happily sell it to you as art!
Does your work affect the way you experience things in the external world?
Yes. I see typographies everywhere. Details are important to me; I notice so many little details. I think most designers do – it’s difficult not to when it’s your profession. For me, it’s part of design and getting the details right is essential. When I walk around I see in graphics; signs, logos, shape and colour. I have strong opinions on all of it, but I keep the stuff that inspires me in my mind for my future projects. It’s nice to see graphics go from print to digital, to existing externally in the world.
Great, thanks Laura.