Back Interview with Graphic Designer and Platinum Award winner Pavla Chuykina
Graphic designer Pavla Chuykina speaks to us about her journey over the years and her win for Happy Ghost, the first Platinum Award ever given to a conceptual design.
Please tell us a little bit about you and your journey
After initially wanting to become an animation director, I found a Visual Communication Course at British High School of Art and Design in Moscow and decided that was the right fit for me. I had no experience whatsoever in that area, so it was just sink or swim for me. After graduation, I was very lucky and got a job at StudioIN, a boutique design studio with a strong focus in spirits and beverages. They helped me to learn heaps and heaps about branding, product design, label and packaging design.
After 4 years in Moscow I got a job in Shanghai and moved to China. It was a new agency, a new country, a new language. The biggest shock was the workload and crazy tight deadlines. The agency’s primary focus was FMCG with global, multinational companies. I cannot say it was easy but, the opportunity to live in a country like China and to see the country through design was life-changing.
From Shanghai, I moved to Melbourne and it started a new stage of my life. It might sound like a cliché but living abroad, meeting new people, learning about their culture brings a new experience and gives a broader perspective on what I do. All of it is very inspiring.
What would you say is your design style?
I prefer to think that I don’t have a style but, I have worked out what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in design for me. This is what I stick to.
Congratulations on winning the first-ever Platinum Award for a Conceptual piece! Tell us a bit more about the Happy Ghost design
Thank you! It has been a big honour to receive it!
For a while, I was thinking about a design concept which would be a little twist on something casual and then there was a click. I came up with the ‘Happy Ghost’ concept. The idea itself is very simple and that’s the beauty of it.
I would love to see the ‘Happy Ghost’ as a brand on the market if there is a chance.
Happy Ghost - 2020 Pentawards Platinum winner
You have also won other Pentawards in the past for entries like Octopus, Rainy Seasons and 21 - can you tell us a bit more about these?
Octopus - 2019 Pentawards Gold winner
In a way, this project is kind of similar to the ‘Happy Ghost’. These two have a simple idea and everything else wraps around it.
At the time I wanted to come up with a contemporary rum bottle design. Eventually, I saw a wax seal on a bottle closure. It had those drips which in a way looked like an octopus's arms, just needed to add eyes. I think one of the most important parts of this project was finding the right balance between traditional for this spirit graphic clues and that funny character.
Rainy Seasons - 2017 Pentawards Silver Winner
This project started when I was thinking about packaging for veggies and greens. To be able to get a good harvest, you need a good rain. Thinking of rain led to an umbrella with floral patterns. I left the packaging see-through. It always makes a lot of sense to use the interaction between the packaging and the product.
I designed this project in 2016. Thinking about this project now, I would do it differently. I think I would find another solution rather than using plastic.
21º - 2019 Pentawards Silver Winner
The idea of 21º was born at my friend's birthday party. When asked the question how old are you, she answered of course, "21". A woman never really wants to reveal her real age and, in most cases, wants to stay forever young. The name 21º was inspired by the legal drinking age in most countries which is 21 years.
A celebratory cake is the centrepiece of any great birthday party, which is why the bottle is shaped like a cake. The neck of the bottle represents the birthday candle while the label has a stripe pattern detail and the cap itself contains wax and a wick. There are also cupcake bottles which are the limited edition range for special moments.
As a conceptual designer, what do you think is the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity?
I believe the biggest challenge is going to the unknown, trying to see things from a different angle. I really like the idea that the brain is a muscle and it needs training. Creating design concepts is my idea of training.
The biggest opportunity for creating design concepts is that they can come to life! Seeing your design concept being produced is the best feeling ever.
Are there any other recent designs you’ve worked on that you would like to share that you can tell us about?
Franky Gin is one of the most recent projects, a collaboration with Galima Akhmetzyanova. We started to think about telling the Frankenstein story from a different perspective.
We thought it could be a female character with a bright, bold and funky personality. This is where the project got the name 'Franky' and became a Gin since it's one of the most innovative spirits around. As the idea unwrapped further, we came up with a stack of three bottles to create a face.
Gradually, it all came together: bold and colourful graphics of the eyes, lips, moustache and nose; small square bottles; wrap-around label with cross stitches on the edge; closure as a button and some other little details. Some say that a good idea has a few meanings or layers. I'd like to think 'Franky' Gin is one of those.
Me and Galima are also working on another design concept at the moment. This will be our take on fashion and spirits. It has the name 'Little Beast'. We are super excited but as much as I want to talk about it I would leave till we publish it.
More on Pavla Chuykina