Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interview Session: The Wonder Wall

What’s New With You?

I’m working on an upcoming exhibition and also will be doing a 4 minute freestyle performance on the 2nd March 2008. Other than that, I’m assisting the company I’m working with in the Brand and Communication to enrich creative campaigns for World Congress Information Technology (WCIT 2008) and International Advisory Panel (IAP2008) alongside with great agencies and partners. Meantime, I’m polishing my photography skills and planning a trip to Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta to celebrate my birthday with my sister, Abby, our dear friends like Atilia, Oya, Halimi, Fizar, Jerry and my partner. I might be bumping into my Indonesian friends from the design field and keeping my hope cross to meet some great producers and notable international singers over there like Andi Rianto, Harvey Malaihollo, Glenn, Incognito, James Ingram and Kenneth Edmonds (Babyface). It’s going to be a worth birthday gift ;)

"Hope", by Muid Latif
'Hope', a new artwork by Muid Latif for the Get Moooving Movable Art Exhibition, 2nd March 2008.

We rarely see you in art exhibition these days. Why?

Erny Dyanty and Muid Latif, at the recent 'New Photography from Southeast Asia Exhibition' @ Valentine Willie Fine Art, Bangsar, 13th of February 2008.

I choose not to. I just felt it’s time to give chances to the new generation of designers and artists to participate in art events and exhibition, and use that platform as an opportunity to acknowledge themselves. I had experience the best show and I believe it’s not fair that you take all. I don’t want be labeled as a greedy artist or designer. It is good to just appear in several occasions and events. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a workaholic person. I’m busy spending hours writing proposals, attending meetings and appointments. In fact, I really like to spend more time with my friends and family these days traveling to places, take photographs and get in touch of the nature. I don’t to stuck in the office at the age of 30 years old chasing dateline and miss all the fun in the world, it’s just too pathetic. Having said that, it doesn’t mean I’m not active. I am creative and I never miss my weekly sketches and illustration. Once an artist, always an artist!

Do you think you are famous?

I’m not famous. I, however, am well-known and I am well-linked for sure! I can be this one wild chap and at the same time, I am a role model to a lot of people. I keep myself moderate however I never miss doing my occasional social networking to gain more contacts. I am surrounded with nice people who appreciate my works, and know my capability as a new media specialist, not just know how to talk or write but I can say yes even to the impossible things. I am reliable to almost everyone around me. It’s good to know that some used me, because I know its better feel this way than feeling nothing at all. I am happy to know some people out there acknowledge me especially to help them grow and felt a need to compete with me. Some had bypassed me with good potential, and I felt proud to see where they are now. And you know what? When I see them, they smiled at me. I felt flattered.

When we see your portfolio, is it officially a commission work or ‘syok sendiri’?

I classified my work in two categories, one is for commercial, and one is personal work (non-commissioned). The works I did even had been published and launched even by our local Prime Minister, our beloved Yang Di-Pertuanku Sultan (Daulat Tuanku) to great notable clients. I never felt proud seeing our own Sultan touches your own product and effort for the launch. KTM Commuter stills hang my artwork in one of their train even if they suppose to take the artwork off more than a year ago. Most people like my work, and most of my work sells. I don’t need Bauhaus or Award-Winning Art Direction to get recognize. As long as my work pays the bills, everyone is satisfied with my contribution, we both live in peace, that’s all that matters. There’s few good commission work that made me earn good money, as well to help others. The best part was to do it professionally, even paid for Government Service Tax ;-). So go figure if it’s a ‘syok sendiri’ (vanity) or not.

What do you think of designers with attitude?

Attitude is for divas, divos and prima donna’s. I met a friend of mine and use to be my early client, Ferhad. We both had a quick chat about a designer with full of attitude and doesn’t perform well in a professional business ethics. A person full of attitude means a person who is hard to work with. As for me, a small side of me is about being professional or not. I strongly believe we do need to be rigid at some point and situation because you want things to fall in places. I don't like to mistreat people because of my status or to which agency I work with; instead, I would clarify and identify what I want or my stakeholder wants, and what I can do to smooth things up for them. When I work, I don’t just design. I use a lot of process of work to identify the right project management, from documentations, to time lines, site-maps, architecture information (AI), brand building and other important matters. It's always a plus if you have constant follow-up so you won't run away from your timeline.

What would a person would pissed of with you or if they claim you are a guy with the big 'A'?

If a person pissed of with me, that's because I turn down their offer to work on a specific project or for their company, some of the factor why I refuse to take jobs offer these days is because:

  1. First and foremost, I'm engaged as a consultant to a very high profile organization. So therefore, I am occupied most of my time with the task that had given to me.
  2. I love what I’m doing now. I also have other commitment to do, and I still have to run and manage Digital Malaya Project (DMP). Since DMP had become an official Media Supporter to Adobe Design Achievement Award 2008, I opt to get more serious. These are the only two that I should be focusing on. One is career, and one more is my passion. Others I may find it an opportunity, but I believe the opportunity I’m seeing now is with the company as a consultant, and my pet project, the DMP. Its also shows I'm loyal and I focus on what I like best.
  3. They (clients) wanted me to build an interactive website for the cost of RM2000 and they want everything, and this means EVERYTHING. Recently, a person is comparing other designers who can produce a particular website by charging the amount of USD$400. This is why some freelancers are killing the market. We are talking about putting down an industrial standard of doing a professional business. Unless you are a pakcik from an inner state asking to help with design banner and stuff for promotions and their small business, I would consider and do on charity basis. I even take barter trading if I work with the right person.
    i.e: 'Hey Muid, can you build me a website? I'll help you out with the magazine design layout for your MekarMara", or "You design this e-newsletter, and I'll buy you lunch at Italianies'. Now that is nice kan? :)
  4. I just can’t work with people who want things to be at a very, very low budget at the same time want full quality in everything. Things like this need justice. And I strike for one!
  5. They disrespect the creative people and disregard creative process. If they want to hire us, why there’s so many process and obstacles (namely on decision making and about being 'kiasu')? I prefer to work with people who knows what I'm capable of and have faith in what I do and bring the teamwork spirit on the table.
  6. In another case, If a student approaches me, I give them hard time; this is because I want them to communicate properly. It irritates me to see; ‘hey bro, aku nak interview hang untuk thesis aku boleh? Call me.” If a proper student communicates well, I will help throughout. Some of them scores A+ and Dean’s list.
  7. I'm a bit pushy when it comes to payment, because I delivered most of the requests according to dateline. Sometimes, some clients find me irritating, because I will call and call the finance's office until the payment is made and cleared. Wouldn't harm anyone right?
So yeah, it’s about being professional (not being diva/divo) and fully understands what I want or what they want in order to produce a seamless and great teamwork on a project.

Do you think Art Director is such a big deal for designers?

Well, at early stage. I thought so. Being an art director is like from being an executive, to senior executive and to a manager. Then I got involved. I was one of them. But I felt nothing if I work my own ways because to become an art director, you have to create a great mutual relation with your other team mates. It’s all about teamwork. I know at a time I have to work so hard, not only to provide creative mocks and concepts, but to come up with researches, a great proposal, mood board, project paper, creative brief, timeline, site maps, AI, you name it.

Some art directors make their ways by talking bullshit and trying their best to impress themselves how they can present stuff creatively, while others can’t even draw a great figure or can’t even create a great 3D model. Some can’t even take photograph nicely. I know one art director who are good in writing and rationalize things, but to such surprise, insult artists when he himself called the 'Art' Director. So, should we separate and divide things to put in such status of class?

I do, however, met some super talented, yet humble Art Directors, but you can rarely find 'em these days. Just ask yourself, if you’re good, why would you still try hard to impress people? The artwork or the products you create speak for itself. Not words or what stated in your 10 pages proposal. I mean it's a plus if you also good at writing and documenting things. But seriously, execution proves how well you are, how efficient you are. Don't dare to even call yourself a designer if you don't produce numerous of work a day, don't dare to call yourself an artist if you don't own a sketchbook and never sketch a single work.

It's never a big deal becoming an art director. It's just a title. Most important is your work speak who you are. If you're hardworking and a smart person, people will acknowledge your credibility instantly!

Do you ever felt defensive when there's something not right?

There’s a different between defensive and justifying yourself. Defensive means you jump out (freaked out) when people give you a critics (which most of young Malay designers do these days, no pun intended!). Justifying is to rationalize what you do, and to let others understand your process of work, so they know it’s a serious deal about what you do. I can be both, but most of the time I only justify if I found false facts about me or my work. I like when people came up to me and talk about what I should do or what I should not do. I felt very human if someone identify my weakness and mistakes, but I dislike to be mistreated or to put down my pride, which in my experience, Off topic, I'm talking about the two art director from my previous company who had highly insulted me. I used to look at them 10 feet high. Now, nothing.

Have you fail before?

Yes. Many, many time. In fact, 2005 was the year I fell and broke apart. It was a tough year for me. I lost my pride and friends around me, I lost my sense and I lost my motivation. Those who stand next to me still with me, and those who don’t left me. I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life, but I never look back. But doesn’t mean I didn’t look back at all. I recovered slowly but surely. I revisit my pass and my mistake, in order for some chance for me to improve my weaknesses. God is great indeed, so there will be more obstacles, and it’s up to me to fight and be strong. I am prepared for it because I have a lot of rivals around me. So, it keeps me on an alert. I did repeatedly inform some people (even in my lectures or creative workshops) that I got kicked out from my college and I regain my pride by working extra hard, of course, with a lot of support and help from my family and friends. When you fail, you learn more to improve yourself. I'm glad to go through the hardest days to get me where I am today. (Alhamdulillah)

What does it feel to be you?

Constantly felt grateful and thankful. When I looked up the sky, it reminds me how small I am and how much I want to work to earn not just for living, but most important, to make my parents happy, and that I can repay for that they had done to shape myself to where I am today. And I got friends around me, mentors, and great people. I’m getting older and what I hope is to get more friends who can send al-Fatiha when I’m not in this world. Not friends who knows how to party but less contribution to their akidah. I'm not saying that I'm a religious person, but I always keep my head to the sky.

I want people to know that I had given my contribution, my experience and my knowledge without doubt and territory, most important is sincere. I’m proud that I was able to help young children to learn the beauty of arts, and it was God who had made me realize how beautiful to be able to help people. My talent came from above, and I am so grateful I am able to use his given talent, efficiently and wisely. (Alhamdulillah).

I heard of a song ‘2x5’ by Ahli Fiqir (Singaporean Hip-hop group) and what they said is true. Qoute ‘Ada orang tak suka menderma, ada orang suka derma tapi nak pembalasan’ (meaning some do charity but they wanted something in return, or something like that). It made me realize that I must never to spear a hope to get something in return. I let go a lot of things in 2007. And I hope this year, I can achieve more positive outcome. I mean there will always be my social activities and responsibilities, but doing something good and contributing more towards the community is something I choose to do. What about you?


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