Interview with designer Chris Slabber (CS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Parallel Personal Exhibition.

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Interview with Chris Slabber at Friday 19th of February 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
CS : The main idea was to highlight the fact that as the human race (no pun intended), we are living way to fast in order to grow as a species. This is mainly due to technology that was developed to make our lives easier, but ironically has backfired and made our lives more cramped with useless information. We need to de-clutter our way of life from ones and zeros and pay more attention to our surroundings.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
CS : I really wanted to focus on execution. The style was influenced by Renaissance paintings, so I really wanted to capture that essence. I wanted to bring across the somber atmosphere and contrast that with strong use of colour to bring across the feeling that this alternate civilisation works with nature and is rewarded for their efforts. I also wanted the manipulation to be very subtle and not to seem forced or over worked.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
CS : I'm planning to have it published as an editorial and launching it with an exhibition that will hopefully travel to a few galleries in South Africa, but I'd like to take it to other countries if the opportunity is there.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
CS : Including the photo shoot, it took about a month from initial concept to the finished product.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
CS : It was not a commissioned design, but more a chance to show off some skill by using a subject that is relevant to humans as a whole. This will hopefully attract the attention of possible clients for future commissions whether its commercial of fine arts based.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
CS : As mentioned, I'm planning a magazine editorial and exhibition launch for the work with the means of taking it to a few galleries.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
CS : I think mostly its to pay homage to the Renaissance masters that paved the way for modern art and also to try new techniques I have learned over the past year.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
CS : I have done similar work in the past, but I wanted to take the style and push it to a higher level.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
CS : I think this will be largely influenced by personal preference.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
CS : I'm sure there have been a lot of designs based on the concept of a parallel universe, but I wanted to treat it on a personal level. I didn't want to go over board with adding too much sci-fi elements, but rather only give small hints that the scene is from another world.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
CS : The name Parallel is derived from the concept of a parallel universe. Its loosely based on the eastern philosophy that everything has a beginning and an end as well as an opposite in order to keep a balance.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
CS : Photography and photoshop.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
CS : I'd say its the slight alterations to the facial and body features of the characters in a renaissance styling and followed by the 2 moons in the background.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
CS : I collaborated with photographer Dirk Steenkamp. We won gold in 2015 working on the album artwork for We Set Sail and thought we should give it another go.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
CS : It plays a big role in order for me to get the final result. You need photoshop to manipulate the images to this extent.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
CS : Its a combination of analytical research, data and personal imagination. There are a lot of theories on the subject of parallel universes, but no one really knows what it'll look like. Therefore I liked the idea of making it a complete opposite in terms of lifestyle to our world.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
CS : The level of manipulation applied to the characters needed to seem real. I didn't want it to look forced. I want the viewer to look at them and ask him/herself why do these people look different? Another challenge was to make the image seem that it was shot on location, like I was actually on another world. And of course the challenge of getting the renaissance styling across was very important.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
CS : Myself and Dirk Steenkamp decided to challenge ourselves by putting our skills to the test and seeing how it will measure up to some of the best in the world.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
CS : As always, its about making critical decisions without wasting too much time. Being able to identify whether an idea will contribute to the overall design concept or take away some of the punch. Then on a practical note, I always try to improve my workflow while at the same time improving my craftsmanship.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
CS : Perhaps that we as creatives should not forget about our heritage. We should try and honour the masters of our craft and we should study them more. After all they are not called "Masters of their craft" for nothing.