Interview with Tadas Karpavicius

Tadas Karpavicius is an art director and graphic designer from Lithuania working in the fields of art, fashion, culture and commerce. Between self-initiated projects and commissions, he works with a variety of clients from different fields, maintaining a strong focus on the cultural sphere and collaborating with visual artists, designers, curators, galleries, institutions, commerce, businesses and individuals.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a designer and art director from Lithuania. Currently based in Vilnius, where I also run an independent practice and type studio. Between self-initiated projects and commissions, I work with a variety of clients from different fields, maintaining a strong focus on the cultural sphere and collaborating with visual artists, designers, curators, galleries, institutions, commerce, businesses and individuals. My main focus is typography, editorial design, identities and art direction.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Kaunas, which is the second-largest city in Lithuania, after Vilnius. I studied there and graduated in Graphic Design at Vilnius Academy of Arts.

My childhood was spent near the Pažaislis Monastery, Kaunas Lagoon. Best memories from my Dad's yacht. We were sailing and preparing yachts for the new season. My Dad spent a lot of time with me, probably that‘s why we have a very strong connection.

My free time after school was spent with the kids outside. We never got bored. There was always something to do. If I would have to describe my childhool as a smell it would be the smell of asphalt after the rain.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in graphic design?

Growing up I was always interested in books, symbols, signs, stickers, CD and cassette labels, postage stamps and visual language as whole. Was always curious about how text was laid out on paper. My father back then was also working as a graphic designer (only in the 80s his job was cardinally different than mine), so I was interested in his advertising boards and all kinds of hand typography based works. All that has laid the foundation for my own career path.

How would you describe your creative process?

I don’t have any secret method. The only rule I do have is: start with the hardest task.
Usually, I am working on many different projects. I always begin with a deep research, work on the concept and after move to the process, design and sketches.

How is the current situation affecting you and your work as an artist/creative living in Vilnius?

The only thing that changed was communication with clients. Instead of real meeting we were having online meetings, but I got used to it very quickly. Apart from that everything stayed the same. I am happy that I had enough work to keep myself busy. But I have to admit, being stuck at home was a challenge. Luckily I live by the river and park. That‘s where I go when I need a pause.

Does your city and surroundings influence you as an artist and individual?

I think that inspiration is everythere but not everyone notice that. Usually I am influenced by my friends, people around me. Also music, magazines, nature, other cities, history, travelling and life in general. Vilnius is a great city, full of inspirations.

The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in Vilnius?

I think we are definitely moving forward. Lithuanian Council of Culture supports artists and art projects.

Do you think it is also the responsibility of the artist/creative to improve the quality of people's lives in their city?

I wouldn’t say that it is our responsibility but we – creatives have a great possibility to create clear visual language for people and the city. I personally feel very grateful to be able to do that.

What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like Vilnius?

To be honest, I do not struggle. The city is neither too big nor too small. I can reach most of the places by walk. We have plenty of galleries and museums so my cultural life is very active. Moreover, nice people, cool music venues/clubs, great restaurants. Also, Vilnius has very beautiful nature. That‘s what I like about Lithuania the most. Talking about creative field, I like that there is a lot of freedom because nothing is expected. There is plenty of space to experiment.

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particularly excited about?

At the moment I am working on the identity for Kaunas International Literature Festival and another very personal project which is a publication-book of my father's work. All the sketches and typography from his archives.

If you could add or change something about your city, what would that be?

Less cars, more roads for bikes.

If you could choose any artist/creative to collaborate with, who would that be and why?

I am open to any collaborations because every process is inspirational, educational and brings something new to my work. If I could go back in time, I‘d love to work with Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, Jurgis Mačiūnas, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Kazys Varnelis, Kęstutis Gvalda and my list could go on and on.. Because every single artist, creative has something unique and different.

What do you do to switch off?

I usually go for a run or relax at my parents garden.

What does home mean to you?

Home is where I feel good, where I can be my true self. Home is where my family and love is.

Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does Vilnius evoke a personal smell to you?

It does! I can feel it after coming back from other countries. Every place I lived in is somehow related to a specific smell. Vilnius is very different now than it used to be in my twenties. I used to come to Vilnius for parties and exhibitions. So many great memories were made here. So if I would have to choose one smell that represents Vilnius, it would be a smell of a new exhibition.

What is your favourite time of the day?

I am a morning person, I like to watch everything around me waking up. I like my mornings slow and calm. In particularly - summer mornings.

If you weren’t living in Vilnius and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?

It would be London, because I was living there for many years, and that city still feels like second home for me. A lot of happened there, good and less good, but most importantly I had a chance to explore, meet different cultures and find my true self. That city is full of surprises, it is so unexpected and that’s what I love the most about London.

Vilnius BY Tadas Karpavicius

A selection of places in Vilnius - recommended by graphic designer and art director Tadas Karpavicius. See all of Tada's favourite places here

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