Interview with Fabien Barral

We interviewed one of the most talented French Designers. This is what he had to say about himself...
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I am Fabien Barral. I am a graphic designer. I am passionate about images and graphic design. I am a husband and I love my wife. I am a father and I love my daughter. I am not the clients I work with, I am the art I create with them. I am what I create. I create what I am.

We asked some hard hitting questions (not really) to one of Europe’s most talented designers. His candid responses and enormous heart, resonate in Fabien’s designs.

Welcome to The Graphic Design School Blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself. A brief bio…

My name is Fabien Barral, I live in France, in an old country house, that my wife and I restored together.

Our village is so remote and small that there are not enough houses to name the streets. I love the fact that I can work here on such amazing projects so far away.

I was not a huge fan of school, while still at school I was introduced to an amazing design school. Design really appealed to me, Once into it, I loved it, and I have made it my life ever since. I’ve been designing for 12 years now, believe it or not, I learnt in a time without internet, and on photoshop without layers!

See the original on Flickr

We are a blog for beginners and graphic design students. Can you share with us the most enjoyable moment, subject or lesson that you had while studying?

The best lesson I’ve learnt is that design does not start on computer… computer is just a tool… you have to step away from the computer to get inspired. One of my teachers told me that “the greatest ideas come from the subconscious”. When you need a big idea, fill your mind with all the background information you can about your subject, then step away from the project and let your subconscious work on the idea for you. Usually when you come back to the work, your mind has processed all the big info and the ideas flow out much smoother.

How did that moment, subject or lesson shape what you do now?

I always step back from computer to find ideas…

Describe your style of graphic design in a few words. What kind of advice would you give students who wish to excel in this style?

Combining stuff (texture, fonts work, organics, color treatment, watercolor effects, old imagery, handwriting) is the best way to describe my style. To develop this style I recommend finding your own sources… I always looks for old papers, old materials I scan stuff myself and use these as textures.

Europavox reworked image

Europavox final poster

Do you use hand drawn techniques to help you develop a design. How important is this in your process as a Graphic designer?

Not at all, I do not know how to draw, I am so bad at it… it was really hard when I was at design school, my teachers told me I couldn’t succeed if I can’t draw… they were wrong!

Do you keep an ideas journal? If so can we have a sneaky peek?

I do keep a journal, I use it for note taking only. So its not that interesting to see. I make my own journals because I never found the ones I want in the shops.

Do you have a special method for brainstorming, i.e mind mapping etc?

Yes, I check my own blog and choose images that fit the project I am working on… that’s why I update the blog so often, the more images are in it, the more I am inspired.

What are your favourite websites at the moment? blog

Who are your 5 all time favourite graphic designers?

Jennifer Sterling

An also:

Sonner Vallée u. Partner


What typefaces do you use the most in your designs?

Disturbance variations

What about your job do you find the most rewarding?

When I am as proud of the project, as much as the client is… It is rare but, these days it happens more and more.

A moment to brag… who are your most prestigious clients?

I was asked to redesign the Rolling Stones web site… Yes, you read correctly. I can’t believe it myself… It was a year ago now, the project was never online as the band have change their plan, but I hope it will be someday…

Where do you see your career in five years?

Roaming the world and working on more blockbuster movie or music group websites, having fun!

What advice would you give to graphic design students around the world. About shaping a great portfolio?

I like ‘The Combinations Rule’ from James Webb-Young’s little book:

Designing is basically the practice of combining stuff; ideally in ways that haven’t been seen before. So, the more stuff you know (about everything), the greater chance you’ll find a relevant and distinctive, and therefore effective (and original) combination.

A question on everybody’s mind… Billy Elliot feels on fire when he dances … how do you feel when you are designing?

That’s what I call an “Imaginary moment”… I named my original website “Imaginary Moment”. I later changed the site to my own name. When I design I feel absorbed by the images I create… in an imaginary world.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us… any famous last words?

Designers are meant to be loved, not to be understood.

Fabien Barral

Thank You Fabien!

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