Petros Afshar‘s designs are as distinctive as a John Hancock. His fingerprint-like signature style encompasses all the colours of a Sega Mega Drive Sonic game (in a good way), all the intricacies of Transformers, and all the typographical prowess of a font magpie. Somewhere between DNA and circuitry, his designs are like a sprawling cyberpunk adventure, with a pinch of breeze in your hair. His digital illustrations have an epic understanding of shape and how things fit together, so much so they have an almost mechanic-under-the-hood feel to them.
If there was a designer who saw design like a whirring mechanical being, I figure it would be Petros. The kind of digital artist who can make words look yummy when they’re nattering about lunch, as well as being able to pack a plea into text when it’s covering extinction. He’s certainly got a flair for graphics.
We spoke to this London-based graphic designer and illustrator about being a late bloomer (design wise) and why he digs orange as a colour:
Can you tell me about your background?
I would consider myself a late bloomer as my passion for design started during my late teenage years. I have always been creative minded, but could never illustrate my thoughts and ideas. So I thought I’d take a risk and make one of the biggest decisions of my life by dropping out of academia to start a new career in the graphic arts. My passion has ever since risen to new heights, in fact I look at life in a completely different spectrum. Environments, landscapes, scenery, music, film and everything around me is an inspiration when working on a design brief, or when I’m dabbling on a personal project. Aside from the arts, I like to get involved with cutleries and pans; I absolutely adore cooking. When I’m not burning things in the oven, I try and squeeze in time for writing, music production, the ukulele and breakdancing.
A lot of your work is in vector, how did you build up your skills?
Vector art was something I got involved in quite late as I started off with Photoshop, however over the years I expanded my knowledge in design and fell head over heels for vector art the moment I was introduced to it, being able to scale your design to any size without losing detail blew my mind, and the pen tool on Illustrator pretty much made me pledge my allegiance.
What devices do you use to create your drawings?
I use a variation of tablet / mouse to create my drawings. I often stick with the pen and shape tools when creating my vector illustrations and use Adobe Illustrator as my base software.
You’ve won a D&AD New Blood award, do you think this has accelerated your career?
Winning a D&AD has definitely helped put my stamp out there, and I was thankful of them for promoting my works on their annual books and blogs. It was a definite kickstarte for my career, especially as I was still a student at the time with little to no industry experience.
You’ve worked on a huge range of projects including apps such as Penguini, do you think technology has changed the place of illustration in culture?
Absolutely! The app market alone has opened up new avenues for illustrators. There are many app companies, especially indie video game developers that require illustrators to help with their project, I’m currently working on a new videogame app (www.playeminence.com) in collaboration with another illustrator, something I thought would be near impossible a few years back before the rise of the app market.
Your illustrations can be really intricate, how do you choose the level of detail to use?
Each project varies, I usually have an idea of how much detail needs to go into a particular piece before I’m finished with it. Other times I use trial and error, design a few mock-ups with slightly altered compositions with varying details to give my clients a choice.
If you could only use one colour, what would it be?
Right now I’m really digging orange as a colour. Although I go through phases; a few months back I was into my pastel blue and green colours. I can never stay fixated with one colour.
Have you always had an interest in typography?
I have always been interested in typography. It was the first subject I had learned when I was studying graphic design and instantly delved into the world of fonts, typography poster art and letterpress. Typography in my opinion is massively overlooked in digital and print media. It is the quintessential element for compositions that require it and can often add icing to the cake. For me, typography forms an integral part of graphic design when being used on anything from a billboard advertisement, to an intricate business card.