Brandmaker Profile features both the people and their work on both the creative and the business side of branding in Asia.
Name: Anna Bondarenko
Title: Visual Communication Designer
Hometown: Kholmsk, Sakhalin region, Russia
Current location: Busan, South Korea
School: British Higher School of Art and Design
Current Gig: Self employed
First project: 2010, Visual identity for SkyWay – Russian
Most recent project: Visual identity for KTI Union vessel repair firm
Awards and accolades: D&AD “In Book” Award for the New Blood entry in identity design for British Council in 2014. | Finalist in AdStars festival 2015 in Busan in Public Service Advertising category for general public.
Website you visit most: www.itsnicethat.com
Must read book: The Bible. Everyone for their own reasons.
Your obituary in 50 words or less:
“Anna was one of those people who could never take a good photo. She looked fine one second before the camera clicked and then…weird face”
Originally from Kholmsk, a smallish city of 30,000 on the west coast of Russia’s Sakhalin island, just north of Japan, Anna Bondarenko first honed her creative skills in faraway Moscow while studying at the British Higher School of Art and Design.
In August of last year, Anna, along with her husband Alex and their daughter Anastasia, moved to Busan, South Korea.
Once settled in, with Anastasia in school and Alex at work, Anna was soon in touch with South Korean firms looking for creative identity and branding material for integrated international marketing campaigns.
With Busan being home to the world’s fifth busiest port, much of Anna’s work has been with maritime-related firms, ranging from vessel repair companies to a multi-million dollar firm in the business of importing and exporting of tuna. (As you’ll see in some of her work featured below, Anna, quite literally, turned the company’s offerings into works of art.)
What struck me most about when I first met Anna earlier this year in Busan, where several of her pieces were on display at the Adstars Festival, was her ability to take seemingly simple objects and imbue them with greater impact.
There is of course the artful tuna, as well as her clever book of reimagined Chinese characters, but the work that affected me most was a brilliant, self-initiated project called, “The Dark World of Childhood Depression”.
The work revolves around a haunting series of images featuring objects of childhood joy that have been infused with a dark, deeply emotional message that more of us would do well to heed.
Anna spoke with me again recently from her design studio in Busan.
Was there ever a particular piece of work that inspired you to go into the creative design field?
I don’t think there was a particular piece of work that inspired me to enter the profession, it was the profession itself. I find a good balance of analytical problem solving and creativity in visual communication design. I was inspired by how even complicated messages can be delivered through small symbols, simple images or installations.
What kind of brief or project do you enjoy working on most?
I like challenging projects. I find briefs on branding and visual identities quite challenging. I take them very seriously because through one small symbol you try to describe what a company specializes in, it’s values and mission, it’s unique selling point, it’s mood and the target audience, and so many other things.
One symbol has to penetrate the hearts of the target audience and remain there. It is like a promise to a person of what he or she can expect of the company, the promise that has to match the deliverables. It is quite exciting and difficult work.
I also like doing socially conscious campaigns for the same reason: the challenge of getting into people’s hearts, influencing their behaviour and the way of thinking to make the world into a better place.
What are some similarities and differences between the approach to branding and design in Korea compared to Russia?
I find both similarities and differences. The similarity is that many clients, not all of them, usually kind of ‘know’ what they want, but they don’t actually know. So, you have to extract the images in their minds and try to put them into the work.
The differences, I think Korean culture is more predisposed to aesthetic beauty, than Russian. Most of them have a natural sense of style, in that case it is easier to communicate with Korean clients. For example, they don’t ask for overuse of red and gold to give an image of “luxury” like some Russian clients do. They also quickly see the associations in the designed logotype to the field of expertise or emotions you are trying to convey.
Also, Korean clients know how important good branding and design is to the identity and future success of the company. The clients I have met are not afraid to go beyond standards and trends to be original.
Although it starting to change now, Russian clients I have worked with usually don’t see the importance of investing a lot of money in good branding.
“It is like a promise to a person of what he or she can expect of the company, the promise that has to match the deliverables. It is quite exciting and difficult work.”
You can spend a day with anyone in your field. Who? Why? And Where?
I would be happy to spend a day with Michael Wolff, co-founder Wolff Olins. I was lucky enough to attend a lecture he gave in Moscow. He was in the city on business and our professor asked him to give a talk just for our group.
I was struck by his original thinking and imagination, but most importantly by his wisdom. He talked for about 3 hours and I did not want him to stop. Michael somehow can transmit the experience he has accumulated for more than 50 years in business to the people he is talking to, motivating them to search for inspiration around them, by simply looking and noticing things, and then creating something original.
I would invite him to visit Sakhalin island, I think the beautiful and unique nature of the area would inspire him to create more original works that I enjoy.
What is a productivity tool you simply can’t live without?
First of all, a pencil and sketchbook. I just feel more freedom to make sketches of the ideas first. Digital programs are still limited by the number of tools they have to offer, but I can draw anything I want in any way I want, I can do it much faster, so I come up with more ideas in a given time and then start to look for the most suitable ways to re-create them to fit the concept.
Client: Ocean & Pioneer (2015)
Project Type: Exhibition booth, booklet and invitation design
Brief: A Korean company that produces tuna products asked me to design an exhibition booth, brochures and invitations for Prodexpo – International Exhibition for Food, Beverages and Food Raw Materials in Moscow.
The client guidelines were simple: “Clean, luxurious and blue.”
The main concept behind the idea is that high quality tuna products are so difficult to produce and maintain that it has become a form of art.
Client: Self Initiated Project (2014)
Name: The Dark World of Childhood Depression
Project type: Social Campaign
Brief: The project is a social campaign, which is aimed to draw the attention of parents and caretakers to the problem of childhood depression. The main idea is to show that childhood depression exists and it is not just temporary sadness or a bad mood, it is a perception of the world and everything in it in dark colours.
Ordinary childhood objects are used as media to deliver the message. Playgrounds, toys and books that are usually bright and colourful start to appear around the city, but in black colour with copy informing about the illness and directing to a website with further information and help.
The toys are made using thermochromic inks and change the colour from black to bright from touch of hands, thus showing that a little bit of warmth and attention can make the difference in solving the problem of childhood depression.
Client: KTI Union (2015)
Project type: Visual Identity
Brief: The creative challenge was to create a visual identity for a Korean vessel repair company. The intent was to reflect the unity of the departments in the organisation and the company’s “all-inclusive” approach in vessel repair.
Client: Self Initiated Project (2014)
Name: Playful booklet on the theme of chinese characters
Brief: The aim was to create a fun booklet based on the theme of Chinese characters. There was no need for it to be readable, but it does contain general facts about characters, for example how many of them exist, how many you need to know to read a newspaper, origins, inks, seals, etc. It was just something I did for fun.
You can see more of Anna’s work on Behance: www.behance.net/annabondarenko