Amarie Bergman: Yuri, you designed Whitehot Magazine’s stunning graphic identity. April 2009 marks the first anniversary of the ID’s presence. In that year, it seems to me, the magazine simultaneously evolved with accelerated confidence. What are your thoughts on how an ID can center a company’s ethos and influence it?
Yuri Doric: I’m not sure a logo can particularly influence a company. It may be able to influence the public’s perception of a company. For better or worse.
AB: I’d like to know what went into the preliminary background research for it. What level of experimentation did you do to come up with the design for Noah Becker, WM’s editor?
YD: Noah had mentioned that Whitehot Magazine’s name was influenced by The Velvet Underground’s album White Light / White Heat and I based the wordmark on that. The logomark itself practically created itself with the W and the M essentially being reflections of one another visually. From there I reduced them to simple forms that would complement the wordmark.
AB: You’ve recently released Vostokone as your company’s name.
YD: Released as in let go, yes. As it was never a registered company name and since I primarily work freelance I’ve decided to simplify things and stop trying to be clever.
AB: Did it feel like letting go of Vostok One, the 5-ton Russian spaceship it was named after?
YD: I think it felt more like it burnt itself up in the atmosphere and left me with a lighter payload.
AB: So then, tell me about your new identification.
YD: The new identification is less ID and more me.
AB: In 2008 you became a professional member of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (MGDC). Congratulations! What does this achievement mean to you?
YD: It was a process that required my portfolio to be judged by other professional members and, as I never properly studied graphic design and don’t have a degree, it certainly helped validate my work.
AB: You seem to be aware of this era and its evolution with all its con-fusing / fusing complexity. Do you believe that ‘creatives’ must set the pace / the vision, and not keep reflecting on what is or has been?
YD: I think any professional in any field has to maintain the momentum and stimulate evolution of some kind. I would hope that creatives have the ability to also evolve and present work that is somehow new.
AB: You have said, “I am largely anti-materialistic minimalist which is what I love about digital files—even though those too drive me nuts—although I think the digital era is vastly overrated. Much of my cynicism and satire is directed towards that opinion.” Why is the digital era vastly overrated?
YD: As much as the digital world is able to allow more people to communicate easier and faster than ever I’m doubtful it has made us any more productive or functional. The majority of people I send emails to still don’t reply. Additionally, we have people in public buried in cell phones, iPods and laptops who seem unable to meet in person anymore so they’ve become increasingly dependent / addicted to dating sites and social networks. It doesn’t seem much good to me if technology encourages or creates less face-to-face.
AB: By your nature, as seen by the number of blogsites you manage, including the latest one, Your Deadline, it appears you very much enjoy marketing and cross-pollination - circulating ideas, skills, 'products?’ Do you?
YD: I like information dissemination, although I think my blogs have been more compulsion than pleasure. Currently I only have three blogs at various levels of activity. There is my professional blog for self-promotion, there is Seven Deadly Questions which represents my latent communitarianism - but it isn’t promoted much - and there is Your Deadline which is an experiment in marketing as reflected by the GoogleAds.
AB: Another experiment in marketing is your collection of 454 collages (April 1996 – April 2002) that you recently scanned. You posted some of the images on Flickr. What’s your rationale to present them in this format?
YD: I’d clung to them longer than I’ve clung to any of my work and decided that I may as well put them online with an intention to sell them as original art or digital files.
AB: Speaking of collages, Max Ernst, one of the primary pioneers of Dada movement and Surrealism, did a lot of automatic writing, frottage and collage. He says this about his process: “A blind swimmer, I have made myself clairvoyant. I have seen. I have become the amazed lover of what I have seen, wanting to identify myself with it … to transform what had been commonplaces into dramas revealing my most secret desires.” Would you care to comment?
YD: I suppose the process of my collage work could fit into such a context though I'm not inclined to be as dramatic about it. Essentially they are a matter of me appropriating other people’s work and incorporating them into an even more interesting tableau. And they certainly represent my thoughts, feelings, views and interests.
AB: Going back to the Seven Deadly Questions, since you are the site’s host - and haven’t answered any of the questions online yourself - I’d like to ask you one of them: “What would you do if there were no external or internal restrictions or deterrents to stop you?”
YD: I did answer the questions once but never posted them. I can’t remember what I answered for this one but I think it probably involved constant traveling. To it I might add the consumption of quality alcohol and drugs kind of like ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ but without the fear, loathing and the leaving part.
AB: For someone who is as morphotic, experimental and individualistic as you are, I am intrigued with your self-definition: “At this stage in my mercurialness I would define myself as such: lapsed artist, professional designer, aspiring photographer, struggling (in the creative / doing sense) writer of satire, caring cynic and shameless sarcastic reaching middle age.” Which one seems to be getting most of your attention these days?
YD: I really only ever did anything because I enjoyed the process of doing it. I was never too concerned about “making art.” Currently I’m beginning to focus more on photography and promoting that as much commercially as artistically.
AB: Let’s talk about your photography and the link with restlessness and creativity. Traveling through space and time - driving / flying long distances – allows the mind to free-associate more easily, generating thoughts and ideas. I’m thinking of your 2008 blog, Life is Long, which documented your trip through Nevada and California – and then later in Germany and England. You prolifically posted not only hundreds of writing entries but also hundreds of very fine photos. I recall two series especially: the minimal Las Vegas ones (aerial views, hotel interiors, urban trees) and the classic, excessively “'murrican” portraits at Disneyland (such expressions, as if they were held to ransom in a small world nightmare, aware / not aware that it is all an illusion.) I also remember thinking how creative and restless you must have been in those vivid / spartan moments of pausing / fast forward movement in a heightened space-time scene. It strikes me that there is lots of material for a book and / or a large-scale photographic exhibition from Life is Long. Any plans?
YD: When I was doing Life is Long it was merely to allow people to keep up to date with me without me having to email them. It was never about art or having a final project in mind though publishing or exhibiting is not something I am opposed to.
AB: Do you find that traveling is an important component to you and your creativity?
YD: I have mixed feelings about travel. In some ways it is a way to reduce anxiety by increasing exhaustion and distraction. I tend to have ‘fantasies of place,’ though, and am aware that imagining a place is much more glamorous than actually being in most places. And I’m not really interested in tourism and constant travel, as I prefer to immerse myself in a place and try to see what it is really about.
The main thing is I get anxious spending too long in one place.
AB: Must you document it? In other words, are you driven to record the minutia and maxutia of your travels, your life?
YD: I often see things that I impulsively feel should be photographed. It is an impulse or a compulsion. I suppose I do have a subconscious drive to make art on some level regardless of my definition or view of art in general.
AB: Is this how you deal with restlessness?
YD: The travel usually deals with the restlessness and the photography tries to justify it. There is a fine line between feeling like I am doing something relevant and feeling like I am completely wasting my life.
AB: Barbara Hill, architectural designer, described the magnetic effect of the landscape around Marfa – Donald Judd country – and the west Texas plains by saying, 'the sky opens up and the whole energy field changes.' Have you ever felt like this? When? Where?
YD: There are certainly moments in moving from one landscape to another where I am overwhelmed by the contrast or by seeing something new.
One such moment came after camping in the cold for a couple weeks and then driving south into the desert. I remember coming over a hill and suddenly feeling like the car had caught fire and then seeing Las Vegas in the distance. In my memory it was this city surrounded by desert and there were these big, dark military looking planes constantly taking off. It was totally surreal.
AB: ‘Machine Shop Pastoral’ is a photographic series you’ve just done. Can you describe it?
YD: It’s a machine shop I happened across as a friend’s business is next door. They have this pastoral landscape wall paper up that just wonderfully contrasted the industrial nature of the machinery and tools being used in it.
AB: You mentioned to me that after high school you wanted to study auto body mechanics because your friends were in the trades and you thought it might be creative. Is this series an intentional or a subconscious honoring of that formative time in your life?
My outlook was much more limited during high school. I certainly don’t regret not taking that career path.
AB: What part does wit play in your life but especially in photography and graphic design?
YD: In my commercial graphic design very little. Clients don’t request it. My personal graphic work is often intentionally witty. It pops up in my photography if I happen across it but I don’t think it is represents the work I feel is the strongest. I am motivated to more ‘serious’ imagery.
AB: Is photography for you both a sensational and a purely aesthetic preoccupation?
YD: When feeling the most idealistic, I often think that the only work anyone should ever do is that which aids the greater good. That’s when I consider documentary photography or photojournalism. When feeling less idealistic, photography is about a lot of things but form and aesthetics seem to be my priority. I’m very obsessed with appearance. Regardless of my direction at any one time I do pursue a minimal and timeless appearance.