Michał Loba is a Warsaw-based graphic designer, operating with smart humour and vivid colours — below, a conversation on his upbringing; defining his own balance and finding his own way of working.
Hello Michał. Can you share something about your upbringing and background?
I was raised in Puszczykowo, a village situated close to Poznań. After gymnasium, I started to go to high school in Poznań, where I started my studies. I was studying art history. During that time, I spent one year in France, in Dijon. However, I felt, I need something different. Apparently, it turned out, that there is additional admission at School of Form. So I applied there and got accepted to second year, only on the basis of my portfolio. I received bachelor’s degree from communication design there.
How did those two years in School of Form shaped your way of thinking?
Thanks to the fact that I did not study specifically graphic design, I had more extensive studies. I took some humanistic classes, as well as business ones. Strict graphic design classes formed only some part of it.
So you found the school valuable for your own growth.
Yes, the good thing was, that the lecturers were the people who are active in the profession. I found it very motivating. I really enjoyed studying there. I met a lot of interesting people, such as Edgar Bąk, who was my thesis supervisors. I used to spend a lot of time working with him in his studio. I’ve learned a lot from him and I’m very happy I’ve got a chance to meet this guy. We are still in touch.
Would you say that Edgar Bąk was the biggest influence on your way of design thinking?
Well, my deeper interest in design started when meeting an artist and a publisher Honza Zamoyski. I’ve got to know him through some funny circumstances. He was definitely an important figure, through which I came in close to design. Together with a bunch of friends, we asked him to organize a little workshop about designing books. We were meeting time by time and Honza was teaching us about the process of creating books. It was the breakthrough moment, when I made a decision I would like to deal with design. Honza literally infected me with a love for letters and very reliable and decent approach to design. Although, that time, I was very directed that I would like to create books, I ended up being an illustrator. Later, when I started to work with Edgar, I learned more relaxed approach in matters, such that some of the things may go beyond the norms. These are the two perspectives that have shaped me.
Do you feel, that you’ve managed to find your own way?
I’m still meeting a lot of new people, who have some kind of influence on my work and I’m open to it. But I definitely feel more aware of what I am doing.
Your style is very recognizable. You use strong colors and smart sense of humor. Where does it come from?
What inspires me the most is all visual things around, as well as various absurd situations. I try to notice a funny relation, something that connects. Then I try to give it a form, which may be distorted. This is probably what I am trying to show. To a large extent, it is the idea that counts. Something nice can always be done.
Do you always start with a concept first?
Mostly yes. The idea must come first. Although, it can come out of something visual. As for example, recently, I did a poster for the band LOTTO. While working on it, I came back to technique I used to do while designing logotypes. The idea emerged out of playing with typography. In this case, I was drawing the word LOTTO and searching for what might emerge from the letters. Suddenly, the car appeared, whose wheels were two O letters. It was about searching for dependencies between letters and what can come out of them.
Being a graphic designer takes a unique mix of creativity and skills, what are you passionate besides your work? Were you ever thinking, what would you be if you wouldn’t be a graphic designer?
For quite a long time, I really wanted to be a musician. I can play a few instruments, only basics though. But I was considering studying sound design in Berlin. I still make some music, and maybe, if I wouldn’t be a designer, I would focus more on making music.
What are your plans for the future?
It's only recently that I feel confident enough with what I'm doing, that I have more time to pay closer attention to different artistic disciplines. I’m planning to do some sculptures. I also have some ideas about making videos. I would like to do less commercial stuff and focus more on just creating something, that will not be necessarily related to graphic design, such as carving or painting.
Photography by Bartek Wieczorek
Words by Michaela Metesová