GROTESK — Interview
The Williamsburg (Brooklyn) based art director Kimou Meyer, aka Grotesk, answered our interview. Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, he talks to us about his more than ten years amazing background and experiences in New York with companies like Nike, Alife or Zoo York and his own studio in 2010, with Aaron Amaro and Chris Isenberg, Doubleday and Cartwright.
Bonjour Kimou, how are you?
I am good thanks. Getting ready for the nicer spring weather
Can you introduce yourself ? Tell us more about your background.
My name is Kimou Meyer, I was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. I studied art direction and communication for 5 years in “La Cambre” in Brussels, Belgium. When I present my final project for my diplomas, Dimitri Jeurissen, a member of the jury and owner of Base hired me to develop his studio in New York. I worked there 2 years and then I got hired by Ecko Unltd as an art director. I learn the garment game and eventually ended up being the creative director at Zoo York for 4 years. I left in 2008, took a break and did some freelance for companies including Upper Playground, Alife, Stussy, Sixpack, Uniqlo, Nike, etc.. In 2010 I started my own company with my two partners Aaron Amaro and Chris Isenberg: Doubleday and Cartwright. We are a creative agency specializing in sport and culture with about 8 employees. We have a sport and culture journal named Victory Journal and a small clothing line named NoMas. Outside of all this I am still doing my illustration and art project: Grotesk.
Your “Grotesk” nickname comes from the Neue Haas Grotesk font, right?
It’s correct for half the meaning. I used the name as an homage to my Swiss roots and my love of typeface and I used it because I am working in New York and at the time mostly in the fashion world that had a lot of “Grotesk” things. So it was kind of a play on both.
What’s your interest about illustration and graphic design?
My interest for it is I guess the fact there are the mediums that fit the best my way to express myself.
Can you tell us more about the Doubleday and Cartwright studio?
We started the studio in 2009. Doubleday & Cartwright is a media and design agency specializing in sport and culture. Our successes have been various: designing a garment customization space for Nike, turning a baseball legend into a viral and film festival sensation, helping a ground-breaking nutritional juice cleanse grow into a category killer. We participate in the product and content marketplace as both actors and advisors, so we know what it takes to make noise, capture attention and move units. Our core offerings include: Graphic Design, Copywriting, Web & Mobile Design and Development, Art Direction, Illustration, etc.
What is exciting about working and living in New-York?
NY is the intersection of all the civilization and cultures. It never sleeps, has great food, never settle, always bring new people, ideas, energies and projects. As crazy as it is, as a creative person, it’s the best place on earth.
Do you come back often in Geneva? And what do you think about the current flow of graphic design in Switzerland?
I try to come once a year in Switzerland to chill with my wife and kids and see my family. There are definitely great talents in Switzerland. The quality of life and social environment put less pressure on people so they can really focus on their craft and perfect everything. Here it’s the opposite, it’s all about NOW and fast. So you adapt yourself but loose a bit of craftsmanship. On the other end, people are more spontaneous than in Switzerland…
You have your own style of illustration. What inspires and influences you?
I am aware that I kind of have a style but I am trying to not care too much and push myself in new direction all the time. I am inspired by a lot of things. First of all my kids for sure. They are way more creative that I am. Vintage sport, sign paintings, art, photography, travels, etc… I can get inspired really by anything. It’s really the way you look at things and the way you reinterpret them that are important for me.
Is there any designer, artist or illustrator you appreciate a lot?
I really love what my friend Serge Nidegger aka “Lowrider” do in Switzerland. He is one of my best friend and inspiration. I love in no specific order Stephen Powers, Todd James, Alex Katz, Geoff Mc Fetridge, Os Gemeos, Jason Jagel, Huskmitnav, Sam Friedman, Smith Street Tattoo parlor, Gorey. The list goes on and on…
What advice would you give to the students and young designers?
Spend time to learn your craft and work hard on a body of work before you activated it. To leak your stuff on piece at the time on Internet will dilute your introduction to the game. Be patient, you have your entire adult hood to collect the benefit of your patience.
Some projects to come?
A new website! Finally after 6 years of hiatus. A small show probably by the end of the summer and maybe a bigger one in 2014. Otherwise a lot of great Nike job on the agency size. Stay tuned.
The last word…
Don’t take yourself too seriously. We are not brain surgeons.
Interview : Dennis Moya – 04.13
All the images are ©Kimou Meyer – Grotesk.