[Cromatic Studios meets Creative Junkies | S01:E01] Interview with @paultenn: Bucharest through the eyes of a graphic designer

Cromatic Studios meets Creative Junkies is a series of interviews with cool & inspiring graphic artists.

Why? Because when we come across great art and design we often wonder what is it that fueled the artist to create, or we want to get a sneak-peak at the human behind that thing. Or we do it for inspiration.

For Paul, who describes himself as “Living on Photoshop Boulevard, with a great view over life’s most beautiful and simple things”, Instagram was the place where his out-of-the-ordinary visuals depicting a surrealistic Bucharest became famous widely known.

It’s all a perspective game.

We highly recommend checking out his work because it leaves the cycle of clichés behind, being a greenlight to the wave of no limits creativity. His visuals tell stories about the city, nature and society combined and they are full of metaphors, sarcasm and references to modern society which can challenge the viewer to get outside their comfort zone, where the natural laws are defied.

We don’t recall first coming across his work, but it had us at first glance. Especially as today, finding an instagram account that brings something new is a rare find, as many of them seem to be “copies of other copies”. We were instantly drawn to his work, maybe because of the way it made us feel about the city we live in, like some sort of escapism.

So we decided to have a chat with him and find out how he polished his talent into making a difference online.

CS: Paul, you seem to have found what you like to do and you’re doing it well. It’s always interesting to learn how people first decide to pursue something, especially when they are able to take it to the mastery level. So, how was it like for you? How did you discover your passion related to graphic design?
P: It all started about 14 years ago when I discovered Photoshop. I wanted to make cool edits on photos of myself and an older friend showed me this amazing piece of software. Up to that point, believe it or not, I was “editing” my pictures in Windows Paint! So I started creating all sorts of silly and funny edits but with each and every one of them my skills were developing. And even after all these years I can’t call it a passion. It’s more of a lifestyle that I’ve developed and worked on mastering year after year. I now spend more than two thirds of my day in Photoshop.

CS: Wow. That sounds like you barely do anything else apart from Photoshop and sleep. But we can see the results of your work – Your visuals are definitely unique. What made you go the route of surrealism though?
P:
I wanted a different kind of creative outlet, other than the agency work that I do day by day. I also wanted to share with everybody the way I see the world and this was the best way to do it.


CS: What do you want to express by your Instagram posts?
P:
It depends from post to post. Some of them have a deeper meaning than others, some of them are just funny things that are going through my mind. But my main purpose is to make people feel something, no matter what that is. As long as my post made you stop in your feed and have any kind of reaction, my mission is accomplished.

CS: So, why Bucharest? And also, I can’t go without asking you about your opinion regarding the current political scene, as I believe there’s a lot of that in your visuals.
P:
Why Bucharest? Because it’s the city I call home right now. And because it needs us to look at it a lot different than the way we do right now. We shape the city and the city shapes us. It’s time we show Bucharest a little more love if we want it to change.

About politics and corruption – it’s no question or doubt about the fact that there’s a huge mess in our country, but it’s a huge mess all over the world. I’ve always been TEAM HUMANS and I’ll always be, so I truly believe Romania and the world as a whole is becoming a better place for everybody.

I know things don’t look that great right now, but I don’t think there has been a better time to be alive (and that applies for Romania, as well). Also, watching lots of documentaries on different topics I’ve got to see the pattern of how politics and the society work and evolve. Once you see that everything that happens today is not so shocking and surprising and it already happened in the past in one way or another, things tend to slow down a bit and life gets a bit more relaxing.

Inspiration has to find you working.


CS: Nice. Now that’s a more positive way to look at it. 🙂 Going back to your work, how much time does it usually take you to create and edit something like this? Coming up with the concept and stuff.
P:
Consistency. By far! Of course you’ll have a huge advantage if you have some kind of a born talent, but as Macklemore perfectly puts it in his song , Ten Thousand Hours​ – “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint/ The greats were great because they’d paint a lot​.” These are things that I see in myself everyday – if I’m working, things get into a flow and ideas start to pop inside of my head. If I lay on the couch I feel like there is no way I’ll come up with something great. So as Picasso said – “Inspiration has to find you working.”

CS: For any readers out there, who want to become graphic designers – What are, in your opinion, the key elements that make a great graphic designer?
P: Consistency. By far! Of course there’s a huge advantage if you have some kind of a born talent, but as Macklemore perfectly puts it in his song “Ten Thousand Hours” – The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint/ The greats were great because they’d paint a lot. These are things that I see on myself everyday – if I’m working, things get into a flow and ideas start to pop inside my head. If I lay on the couch I feel like there is no way I’ll come up with something great. So as Picasso said – “Inspiration has to find you working.”

 

CS: So, how much is it passion and how much is hard work?
P: Passion should make working hard a lot easier. I think that’s why it’s important. There are lots of “passionate” people who don’t work on their craft and just get to the point where they’re losing that passion. I think when there’s passion and you love your ‘thing’, there’s not a notion of “hard work”, just working hard to take it to the next level. As Rihanna puts it – ​work, work, work, work, WORK​!

CS: This is all so very inspiring. We wonder what gives you the drive and how you find your inspiration – any role models or Instagram accounts worth following?
P: The drive comes from the desire of doing something different and make people feel something – anything! I find inspiration in everything around me, but I always get a boost from any kind of art – especially visual arts and fashion. I don’t have role models, but I find many many humans to be very inspiring.

I love how Gary Vee took all the excuses out of me, I’m fascinated by the way Warhol hacked the art world, how Guggenheim felt about art and how she shaped this world, how athletes work on their game and many other things. I told you I’m “team humans” :). I’m fascinated by all of us and the things we’re doing. I couldn’t tell you a page to follow. Art is so subjective and the supply is so big that everybody should consume exactly what they want and need. I mainly follow some sports pages, museums and art collections. One eye on art, one eye on my teams, both eyes on the future.


CS: Care to share with us some of your core values?

P: Self awareness – No matter what I’ve done in my life, I’ve always enjoyed creating visual stuff so this was always a part of my life. That’s why at one point I said to myself “Ok, let’s make a living out of this ’cause there’s nothing you enjoy doing more than this. And I think the second one would be a cocktail of two very different things that combined create a new “value” – humbleness combined with a bit of arrogance. But keep that arrogance just sprinkled on top, not as a base for your cocktail. 🙂

CS: Name compromise that you would not make.
P: Not being loyal to someone who trusts me. And to use the erase tool instead of layer masks. 🙂

​CS: Haha, that’s funny. Tell us one more funny thing work related.
P: 14 years ago I’ve started learning Photoshop so I could do this >

(yes, that’s me at 15 yo) and now I make a living out of it. I find that pretty funny.

That’s a wrap. This is the beginning of our first “season” of interviews that will focus on romanian creatives.

Our aim is to create a hybrid map where we pin artists and designers from various fields but have one very specific common thread: a challenging vision towards traditional mediums. Stick around for the next episode.

✌️

 

Stay creative and share this via…