strangefruits art & design portal
Mihaela Popa
age: 26
country: Romania
exposed: December 2006
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mugshot Mihaela Popa
Please introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself and your background.
Hi, my name is Mihaela Popa and I live in Bucharest, Romania. My journey with graphic design started a long time ago, since I was a kid, I used to draw a lot. My parents were a bit worried I didn't spend time playing with other kids, so you can consider I was a weird child. At some point I was really attracted to fashion and intended on following an art degree in fashion but for reasons beyond me, I called it off. I still have those fashionistic sexy sketches and it's always fun to look back at them.
I went on to european cultural studies, a more theoretical background, and photography at the same time. You can still see a lot of photography in my work but I am more in love with graphic design.
One year immersion in dutch culture and design while working at the Werkplaats Typografie was a strong point to my direction.

What makes a good website in your eyes?
Well, a good website is a mix of functionality and strong visual. Strong can also mean simple.

Could you tell us something about your work process? How do you start? How long do you work on it? What mediums do you work in and which one do you enjoy the most?
The process of creation is always like a rollercoaster, fun and unpredictable. I usually have in mind a general idea but when I start working on it, this idea takes its own path, its own wings. It becomes very intense. It's like a lovestory, don't know how it's gonna take shape or be or end, you have the calling, the feeling and that can work wonders. I try to make my work personal, subjective, leave a strong trace of me in it. I like to create my own typography
out of paper or scanned objects, it makes the work unique and gives a sense of history and unrepeatable time since I can never cut the paper in the same way. It's always different. I make collages, scan them, photograph them, use the computer and then print them.

To what extend do you allow clients to influence your work?
I try to educate the client and minimize their influence but it's not always possible. I am most happy when I do self-initiated work which allows me infinite freedom.

What key feature are you missing in the application you most work with?
Can't think of any right now..

In what way do you use the Internet? What role does the computer play in your work?
I use the internet like anyone else, getting information, communicating. Computer is very important in my work since I have to print my material or create websites.

Computer or Ink?
Both, of course, for the same reason above.

Concept or Intuition?
Having a concept in mind is very productive especially when you deal with urgent corporate stuff. It's a good approach in the way that it cuts down on those tens, hundreds of possibilities of color, type, shape, etc. Once you have
a concept, it goes faster and can motivate your choices. Otherwise, when I do self-imposed work, I run free.

The thin line between art & design is sometimes hard to define. Do you consider you work to be art or design? Why?
I feel I have both of them, you can say a work is art when you do it for the sake of art, for itself, not for the money, of course the money will follow but it's different. A designer has to make a product, a book, a poster sell and he/she always relates to an element of real-life economy.

If you had an unlimited budget and all the time you needed. What would you do?
Haha, ok, I will paint all the blocks of flats in Bucharest because they look very sad.

What inspires you?
Anything and everything can inspire me, a color, a song, a shape, a certain feeling about something or someone at some point in my life. I believe everything we do as designers, at least some of us, is connected to life and our inner
world. It has to, for the work to be good, unique, beautiful, personal. Just be yourself....and follow your instinct. Design is not only about design, it's about life, impressions.

How do to you keep your knowledge up to date? Do you spread your knowledge at universities, conferences or workshops and so on?
I buy books, browse websites of my favorite designers, meet (designer) friends and never stop experimenting.

Who is your favorite artist/designer? Why?
Wow, they are so many...I like the titans and the young powers. I like Wim Crouwel, Karel Martens, then I feel very much into Vier5 from Germany - I think it's brilliant how they go against all rules and still pull it off -, Sara de Bondt, a guy I just discovered Manuel Raeder, Rouel Wouters, Experimental Jetset, Jenny Mortsell, interesting girl from the North, Hans Gremmen, Norm, North studio. As you see, they are most of them dutch, I guess I am not cured yet...

Which project or website would you like to have made, or make?
I would like to get into wall typography and design for museums and galleries, typography that is alive and non-systemic. And printed matter for artists and galleries. So, if you're interested, drop me a line, we can have some fun.

Final words?
Hmm...I am sooo hopelessly in love with graphic design. Happy holidays to everyone! ?>