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Interview with freelance Design Director: Bart Jaillet

Meet our good friend Bart Jaillet, first of all, he is a long-time reader of ABDZ and he is an awesome designer. I have met Bart several years ago when he was in Montreal and we have kept in touch since. I truly do enjoy following his jet setting life from New York to France where you get to see his perspective of the world. Let’s sit down and take some time to learn more about Bart, his work, what inspires him and what motivates him to live/work in one of the biggest cities in North America: New York.

More about Bart

Tell us about yourself?

I’m Bart Jaillet. I was born and raised in a Parisian suburb of France, left in 2012, survived three winters in Montreal and now find myself on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

As a freelance Design Director, I visually brings brands to life, design digital products, help redefine businesses and bring ideas to life through all elements of design. As an overall creative, I do photography, video, visual design and music. Design takes up most of my day to day, but my creative passions are just as important.

Interview with freelance Design Director: Bart JailletBonjour! Je suis Bart Jaillet

How did your journey into design start?

In my early teens, my dad worked from home and had a Macintosh, a scanner and Photoshop. I remember scanning my Grade 8 class photo and actually using Photoshop to liven things up- swapping my classmates’ faces around and putting a whiskey bottle under the teacher’s chair.

For me, graphic design has always remained a playful process, not a chore. I went to study marketing, but I realized design was actually what I wanted to do. Without formal art training I couldn’t get into design school. So, instead, I started teaching myself and used ABDZ as a consistent tool for learning and discovering. I’m self taught in all designs and mediums and I’m still in awe that I’ve made a full time job out of them.

What inspires your work?

  • I read design articles in the morning.
  • I collect & organize images online and with my phone camera.
  • I reference all of the above depending on the project.

How does your typical day look like?

Mornings are when my mind is most open to absorbing information and inspiration. This is not my proudest thing to admit, but I typically start my day with Instagram in bed. I get updates on my family and friends overseas, see what the world is up to and and get inspiration from various creative accounts I follow. (@lemanoosh_official, @zach.lieberman, @blackford, @oursroux and @philipwarp to just name a few).

I grab my BoostedBoard and rush, because I’m creative in the morning but I didn’t say I was a morning-person, to the office. I usually know what my day will look like because I keep my personal and work calendar quite detailed. A strong discipline eliminates stress- Ask Tom Sachs or Casey Neistat.

At the office, after my drip coffee, I run between apps and meetings- I’m sure anyone in the digital design industry does this dance. From the office I hop back on my board to make the physical and mental work to home transition. The ride home is always about 25 minutes of avoiding pedestrians, cars, crazy messenger bikes, trucks and yellow cabs.

Evenings and weekends are for side projects, either for other clients or for myself. Even though home for me equals chill/fun (and sleep) only, I typically pick outside projects that I am engaged with, so it doesn’t feel like I’d dragged work home.

Interview with freelance Design Director: Bart JailletImage Courtesy by Bart Jaillet

What kind of a designer are you in terms of your hardware setup?

I’m an Apple Fan Boy, and not ashamed of it (these are the types of questions I love). For productivity and design, I have my Mid-2015 MacBook Pro, Magic Keyboard and Mouse. At home, I have my good old Apple Cinema Display 27”- which needs an upgrade soon.

I also have a bunch of modules by Palette Gear. They are modular knobs connected to each other via magnets to which you can assign any custom configurations and functions. I use them to retouch pictures on Lightroom and edit movies on Premiere. The system is so fast that I actually don’t really need to use my keyboard at all.

And whether I’m working at an agency, from home or on the road, I need my chosen music to focus. I recently invested in Bang & Olufsen H9i x Rimowa headphones – extraordinary sound and mind blowing ANC.

Do you get creative satisfaction on commercial projects? How much time do you have for personal work?

I always try to find pleasure in commercial work- even if the project looks dull at first, I force myself to make it fun (when it’s not). Most designers love the discovery phase of a project but I also think the production phase is underrated and can be relaxing for more generic work.

I try to have personal work done in the evenings and weekends. I usually work on projects that have nothing to do with graphic design, even though some references to visual design can always be made:

  • I recorded an EP under the name Rififi when I was in Montreal. It’s now available on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal (?!) etc…
  • Playing loud guitar in a tiny NYC apartment is not ideal so I switched to photography and video when I moved here. It’s my catalyst now. You can have a look at it here.

Interview with freelance Design Director: Bart JailletImage Courtesy by Bart Jaillet Interview with freelance Design Director: Bart JailletImage Courtesy by Bart Jaillet

What influenced you to begin photography?

I bought a dozen disposable cameras when I first went to L.A only a few years ago. I loved the process but I wanted to have more control, so I got a Canon AE-1. My first roll was terrible but just like every discipline you have to work you way up. I then went digital and got my hands on a Sony a6500 (for its video capabilities) and the DJI Mavic Pro. I love to document my travels with a different narration:

I’m now at the point where I have too many options in terms of gear and I need to refocus on the subject, the reasons why, the core narrative. Sometimes the tech can cause distractions in the work.

How does Social Media affect your work OR promoting your work, like on Instagram and Behance for example?

I don’t overly focus on promoting my work on social media. I try to post content that will drive people to my portfolio, so they can see the bigger picture of my style and skill set. Also, never underestimate the power of a good network of people in real life for promoting your work and getting you new clients.

What is the one thing you learned at the beginning of your career, that you still go by today?

I don’t take anything for granted and I never settle. It’s crucial to always learn new processes, new software, new approaches and trends.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of what I did for my client Marta Cros at APTO. Marta has a background in the luxury space, and has now launched numerous successful brands and services in the cosmetic/beauty industry. APTO’s philosophy is ‘clean beauty for all’ and uses seasonal plant-based ingredients.

It started as a classic rebrand, but the project quickly turned into a redefinition of the entire identity, design system, creative strategy and art directing photo and video shoots was Marta and I work and communicate really well together. She trusts what I’m there to do so it’s a wonderful synergy and collaboration and I think it shows in the final products. You can check out the case study here. We’re also working on a new project together that will be out in the next few months.

In your opinion, what is the common mistake that most designers make these days?

A lot of designers limit themselves to one discipline. I encourage everyone to remain agile in design and curiosity. Also, don’t be afraid to be bad at something at first- when you give it a try you can really surprise yourself with what new practice you can master.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to continue to freelance as a Design Director for agencies and clients in the US. Freelancing is amazing because you never know what kind of client or project might pop up. I’m also working on a black & white photo book as a love letter to Los Angeles and working on a surf rock project with my friend Allen (also a designer with a love for music).

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