Brand Nu

Brand Nu

In between working for high profile companies like AOL, BBC, and Smirnoff, Radim Malinic, a.k.a. Brand Nu, makes time for the little people. You’ve likely seen his work at Format – he’s graced us with, among others projects, the cover art for last issues 50 Reasons You’re Obsessed With Sneakers

After years of award winning creations that have appeared in all sorts of media, and a catalog of beautiful design work, Radim is releasing his first book “Splatters, Shapes & Colours” in October 2007. Currently available for pre-order at his site, or for free at Format, “Splatters…” is a wonderful collection which includes several exclusive works. If you’re cheap, or not lucky enough to receive a free copy, read on to see some of Radim’s eye-popping designs.

“When you learn how to go […] a bit further even for people who don’t deserve it you have a winning formula.”

Format: Hi Radim, how’s it going? Your first book, Splatter, Shapes, & Colours is being released on October 10th, 2007. Please let us know a bit about it.
Radim: Yay, my little book! It’s a self-published 36 page book of the cream of the crop from the last two years of my work as Brand Nu. The book it’s called “Splatter, Shapes & Colours.” It kinda describes the influences and my work techniques, where the art direction of a piece can change with a simple mixture of colours, paint drip or unusual object placed onto my canvas. Inside the book there’s a mixture of commercial projects with the personal favourites and some very exclusive work and previews too. I wanted to give people something a bit special, rather than my online portfolio in printed format. There were only 500 limited edition books printed and pre-orders sold exceptionally well. A copy can be ordered at

Format: What did you do before you started doing design professional at age 24?
Radim: Well, where to start? Whatever I did was somehow connected to music and design. At our mid-teens me and my mates formed a band. I played bass and designed our demo tape covers and t-shirts. When we fell out, maybe the 20th time, I started DJing for a good few years. Moved to England to study and ended up working for little company designing T-shirts when the student money ran out. The passion and curiosity led me to where I am now. I started working freelance around a day job where I made it to the top. Decided to quit the 9-5 early this year to go freelance fulltime and never looked back. So really, I was involved in design all along somewhere somehow, but at 24 it was time to take it seriously.

Brand Nu

Format: The first book you read on design was about Adobe Illustrator 8. How important do you feel knowing software is, contrasted to things like design principles?
Radim: Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really learn much from that book. I learned the basics at the age of 15 or 16 when helping out at a little design office during one summer season. They had PCs with Corel 4 or even 3 as it was then their program of choice. So I grasped some of the main logics of using software to design. However, most of the work was still done by hand at that time.

Then I left, did a pile of posters for a nightclub where I DJed for years. When I got a copy of Adobe Illustrator in 2002, I only wanted to know all the shortcuts nothing more. I knew what I wanted to do and I wanted to get there faster. There was million ideas in my head and ten fingers available.

Once there was a guy who read one of my interviews and called me from a bookshop asking which book he should buy. It doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.

Brand Nu

Format: You have no official design education. Besides the Adobe book, what are some other ways you have learned about design?
Radim: If you are curious about things, you will find a way how to obtain the piece of information you’re after. For me, it was all about mini obsession to see how it was all done, tracking down typefaces I liked at magazines, more or less little by little discovering the basic principals. These days you get designers installing Photoshop and following some tutorial they downloaded but lacking most of the logic of design or digital art.

It’s well known fact that going to university to study the graphic design discipline will not teach you to design. They might show you how to learn, and how to get your head around some briefs. Students get two years to finish off a project. Blimey, all that time for a couple pieces of work? You’re sometimes in a situation where you’ve got two hours to do the same thing in the real world. One of my mates teaches at a local university and had a female student asking him, “how do you learn to be creative?” Wrong choice of course. I have gone off one, what’s the question again? [laughs]

So, I started from the bottom, learning via observation. Kept my eyes open and digested anything merely interesting to grasp the basics.

Brand Nu

Format: Your style is also described as “a complex montage of layered photographic and colorful elements.” How did you develop this particular style?
Radim: As any other digital artist I try to develop with every piece of work I create. Some years ago, I was quite anal about typography, making sure all is tip top. Once I got all over that I was not too happy with using plain images anymore. At my day job then, we were doing a lot of nightclub flyers, experimenting with Photoshop, which was great as we were getting paid for it too. There and then I discovered Digital Vision library. All of their Photoshop stock files just blew my mind and I remember spending a few weekends “studying” blending modes, structures and so forth. I guess it was a process of natural evolution to end up how I do things nowadays. Instead of blending elements together I give them their own place within the piece, put emphasis on the message the image needs to project. There are periods of time where I aim at more photographic elements, then I’ve got a month or two where it’s all drawn from scratch with very little imagery.

Format: Brand Nu’s bio states that you have “an international client list full of returning customers.” What is it about working with Brand Nu that you think makes these companies returning customers?
Radim: The clients in the UK are quite demanding when it comes to time and deadlines. Everything is needed yesterday, it’s rush rush most of the time but you don’t go back to many time to re-do stuff. Americans give you the run for your money, going around in a circle to end up being happy with the proof one. Australians are amazed when you’re happy to work for them on a Sunday and Japanese pay you for the work you’re yet to finish. When you learn how to go round them and blend it all of with a handful of patience and go a bit further even for people who don’t deserve it you have a winning formula. Every time I land a new brief it’s time to think about cracking it and making it the best piece in my portfolio. Agencies commission me for my signature style and I try to broaden it up for the ever so needed variety.

Brand Nu

Format: Brand Nu’s work has been described as “sensual and sexy.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
Radim: I have to admit, those words came from a person writing my biography in one magazine and I never thought someone would associate those terms with my work. However, I decided to stick with that mini label.

Working with great photography really helps to achieve it. It would be pretty disastrous to fuck up some really nice images, and some people can do that really well. If you go with a taste and make pretty even prettier you’re onto a winner. Although it’s not always like that. You need to be able to polish the turd if need be. Then you’re a gold medalist.

Format: You got into design through an interest in typography, but many of your projects today do not incorporate type at all. What excites you about design today?
Radim: Oh, good question. I shall say it’s the execution of the idea. We all work with the same pantone swatched, or dpi, print on the same litho printers but it’s the idea and execution of it that sorts out the boys from men. These days someone creates a style and army of apes goes and mimics it badly. Only a few do a good job at it, occasionally push it even further. However, I guess people don’t think their own ideas aren’t too good so they borrow from the limelight stuff a few tips

I get excited about depth of illustrations, ideas, colours, shapes and the feel it evokes. Some work I’ve seen recently was technically great but left rather shallow experience. It was more decoration that illustration.

Brand Nu

Format: Because of the technical nature, and consistent style, of your work, many people may overlook the conceptual work that goes into some of your pieces. How important is the initial concept in your work?
Radim: It’s one of the parts of the process that is exciting too. Most of the time new commissions come with new approach and new tackle to the visual problem. Certain parts can be crap and some other may weigh out clients silly demand. To be fair, I have to sometimes pitch myself, I am quite lucky to have free reign on most of the work I do.

Format: What was the transition like to fulltime freelance?
Radim: It was March 2007 when I had a bust up at work about my freelancing getting in the way of my day job. It was a signal to fuck the job off and move on, but I am very thankful for what I’ve learned there. Now I just happen to be doing more of what I was doing after hours along my day job. Weirdly enough, I never feel I had had the day job before and the day I handed in my notice my mobile started to ring even more, with more work pouring in. My fiancé is now working with me, doing the admin things so I don’t have to occupy me twin brain cells with some mundane tasks. I do find myself working inhuman hours, but it’s all quite pleasurable when you see the results and feel the freedom to slack off when you’ve had enough at any time. Also I try to “employ” other people on projects to keep the diversity up. Definitely would recommend it to anyone who handles a bit uncertainty in their life. I was quite lucky that I entered the freelance world with a client list that would be enough to keep us going, never mind the new stuff.

Format: You’ve mentioned that you haven’t turned down too many projects due to the right clientele approaching you. What are some projects you have had to turn down?
Radim: Indeed I said that, almost a year ago. Situation is pretty much the same and if I ever turned down anyone, it was purely down to their attitude or brief. I don’t have any ethos who I work for or not but I’m not a whore either, but one of the projects I’ve declined was to create a new identity for a large leisure company. Knowing the ever so indecisive and shambolic management group from previous experience, I politely made myself unavailable. Would you fancy growing grey hair just because you could make a few quid? Not me, if ever so.

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Shane Ward

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  1. i really like the great design layout of the pics.
    i’m interested to know what programme was used if possible???

  2. Great work, insightful interview. love the book, a must have I say… I heard he killed the last british wolf and drank its blood for its creative richness. (Sources not checked)

    Keep up the stellar work bud

  3. Thankkkkkkkkkkks very much, really useful to stick into my art a level coursework. truellyyyy inspirational. xxxxxx

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