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Probing the creative mind #2 – Riz Jaffer-Clarke

Riz Jaffer-Clarke Graphic Designer – So,What If… blog of Jonathan Wilcock

The second in a series of posts delving into the minds of creative people. Copywriters, Art Directors, Creative Directors, Graphic Designers, Photographers, Illustrators, they’re an odd, mysterious bunch – or are they? Introducing Riz Jaffer-Clarke, Senior Graphic Designer at Small Back Room.

Good afternoon Riz, welcome to the So, What If… blog.

So, first things first, tell me about where you work and what it is you do.
I work at Small Back Room in London, we are a brand consultancy working across a number of creative platforms – from strategy to brand activation. As a creative, I get involved in all aspects of the process. I work on a wide range of projects; it could be a brand toolkit, a naming project, destination branding, environmental graphics, digital design or marketing.

What first got you into a creative career?
Well it was my love of painting and drawing from my school days.

Do you get much of a chance to use your illustrative skills at work?
Only occasionally for client projects, but on a personal level, I’m still an avid scribbler. In fact I’m currently putting together a personal publication called ‘What Lies Tangled’. Last year I curated an exhibition, called DreamVille, in aid of Save The Children. Primarily it was my desire to help a worthy cause, as well as feed a passion for art, with contributions from 30 other creatives. I hope to put together another exhibition under the same banner in the near future.

What’s your go-to starting point to get the creative process moving?
For me its always a case of interrogating the brief and then research, research, and then play.

Play? Tell me more.

At the start of any project there’s always an opportunity for creative exploration. But this needs to be balanced as far as deadlines go. After making sense of initial ideas in my sketchbook, the next step is to create a mood journey that will help to inform the creative solution. This can be inspired by the research I have already done, or a flash of clarity – usually at the most random moments.

Who have you worked with along the way who has influenced you?
Too many to name, but everyone I have worked with has had a positive influence to a degree.

There must be someone who has spurred you on to that next level.
Well yes, I refer to these talented people as having the ‘golden touch’. The main things I’ve learnt from them are how to organise my thoughts and to look objectively at my ideas. Then from there, it’s about seeing if I can approach whatever I am thinking about from a different angle, to come up with a solution that answers the brief and on a personal level also pleases me.

So, what ingredients make up the ideal client?
I have always felt that this needs to be a symbiotic relationship.

Lots of give and take?
Yes, the creative process is so much more productive and exciting when both make the journey together.

Tell me one thing you’ve learned that you would like to pass on to other creatives.
Be inclusive. You can never predict the creative journey, where it will lead you and who might spark off the big idea. Be open and it will be well worthwhile.

What three pieces of work do you wish were in your portfolio?
Well from a graphic design perspective, the rebrand for St James’s.
I love the philosophy and style behind the magazine publication ‘Kinfolk’.
There is a blog called, everything there is an eye-catcher.

What one thing would make your job easier or better?
More time.

So what would you do with a longer deadline?
It would give me more time to play. I say this because the creative thought process often isn’t a linear journey. You can reach the end of a project deadline, then two days later something fantastic will pop into your head and that’s always frustrating. However, even then nothing is lost. Whenever that happens, I always jot it down in my ‘thought book’.

If you weren’t a Graphic Designer, what would you be?
Well it would be a totally escapist and unrealistic wish. Maybe I’d be someone who counts the waves on a fantastically beautiful tropical island.

Thanks Riz. Good luck with the escape and don’t forget to take your sketchbook with you.

Also see Probing The Creative Mind #1 – Mick Sands, Writer/Producer at Substantial Films.