"I like to think that it might be a sign that my work would probably sound like electronic music!"
Canadian digital artist and photographer Alexy Préfontaine, better known as Aeforia, produces dreamlike images that combine; space, geometry and nature, which encourage the viewer to form their own opinion and narrative of the work of art. We had the opportunity to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest projects.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your current situation.
I am currently completing a bachelor degree in Graphic design in Montreal. At the same time, I am also a freelance 3D artist!
What’s changed in art and design education since you graduated?
I haven't fully graduated yet!
How important is a formal qualification in design today?
I think formal qualification in design is great to have in-person feedback from experienced teachers. It is always quite ressourceful to just be able to talk about your ongoing project with a teacher who can help you to grow as a designer. You can get that also from online teaching, but I feel it just isn't the same.
How else can designers distinguish themselves, especially if it’s right out of school and they’re trying to find work?
As I am not out of school yet, it is hard for me to talk from experience about this topic, but my feeling is that it's important to have a personal practice, even though you are still in school. Being able to develop your own style and work on self-initiated projects is one of the things that can help you get noticed by clients or other designers. I personally have had more opportunities come my way from my personal practice than from school so far!
What are your personal challenges and inspirations? What inspires and motivates you today?
I'd say my biggest personal challenge right now is keeping a balance between school, personal work, my other projects, my family and my social life. It can be tough at times to invest myself in all of these, so I had to do sacrifices multiple times during my journey. As for my inspirations, they are quite diverse I'd say! I am mostly inspired by other contemporary artists in the scene. It's quite amazing to see how much talented people there are out there. Also, music and emotions are the fuel driving my work. I always try to convey a specific feeling whenever I am creating a new piece.
Who or what has been your biggest design influence—and why?
I don't think I can point out one influence to be honest. I try to carve my own path and inspire myself from various sources, but there surely are a few artists and designers that inspire me more than others. I've made a list with some of them at the end of the interview!
How has the type of work you do changed from the early days?
I'd say that now I get to work more on animations rather than stills. Before, I was pretty much only creating cover art for musicians, but now it is more diverse and I get to work with companies on either still images or animations.
What do you enjoy the most about design?
I think it's the process. I love to see my project growing slowly as I work on it, it's so exciting to me!
After so long, how do you value your work?
I still am as close to my work than I was at the very beginning. Being an artist has a huge part in my life so I am proud of what I've been able to create since my first artwork. I constantly feel like it can be improved and that I can get it somewhere else, but this is part of the journey!
What kind of music would your designs sound like?
I thought about it actually! Most of the musicians who commission work from me are electronic music artists. I like to think that it might be a sign that my work would probably sound like electronic music!
How important is the study of typographic fonts in a world like today?
I am not a huge typography geek, but studying in graphic design taught me that fonts convey their very own message, hence why it is important to understand them in order to craft a visual communication that will have the right impact on people. It's also crucial to know how to manage typography and layout so your message can stand out from the rest, as we are bombarded with visual information each and every day.
Do you think that the necessary value is not given to the typography?
When you start a job, what do you analyze first? Where does inspiration come from?
I work on making sure that I fully understand the scope of work. Therefore, I mostly analyze the moodboard and the information that was given to me regarding the direction wanted by the client. As for inspiration, it's not much different from my usual inspirations, but I always make sure that the work produced is in line with the client's expectations.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
My work is all about colors, balance, and emotion. I blend surreal landscapes and digital portraiture with a focus on the emotional impact.
What work would you highlight and would you like to tell?
I am quite happy with the work I did for Dillon Nathaniel and Jack Beats' track Mind Sensation. I've directed and produced a music video for the track! You can find it here:
How do you lead yourselves from concept to design?
I usually gather all the information needed to produce the work I'm about to do. Afterwards, I will sketch out all the ideas that I have and select the strongest ones. When I have a handful of potential ideas, I bring them to life and then work on refining the whole thing until I get the final design.
Where do the ideas come from?
It really depends on the project. If it's a personal project, the idea will come from a feeling or an emotion, or will just pop into my mind when I have a moment on inspiration. If it's a client project, it's quite similar, but as I said earlier, I make sure to combine this with the references sent by the client if there are any.
What’s been the most satisfying project you have worked on?
Probably this music video I've talked about earlier. I started out with pages of sketches and ended up in a neat little animated piece!
Living in the era of images, how can visual communication stand out from the crowd?
A good visual communication has to be quickly understood by the majority of people, since the span of attention one person will have for an encountered image in their daily life is usually very short. It has to feel unique, new, so people don't think it is something they've seen already.
What part of the design process gives you the most satisfaction?
In my workflow, post production is quite satisfying. I really enjoy adding the final touches to a new render I've made.
Give us the top 3 tips for inspiring young designers.
Be patient, nothing really happens overnight.
Strive to be better and embrace constructive critique, this will help you grow immensely.
Surround yourselves with people who have more experience than you.
What are you excited to have coming up in the future?
Since I am graduating in the following months, I am quite excited to have more time to dedicate to my craft. I hope this will push me to experiment with my style even more!
Why do we need branding?
Because it is crucial for a brand to have a unique personality and a strong story to tell.
Which people working today in graphic design do you enjoy the work of?
Here are some graphic designers that inspire me a lot lately!
What are your thoughts on specialization vs generalization?
I'd say both are great and that some people might feel more suited to have a more generalist approach than a specialist one. I personally feel like mine is more towards specialization because the style I have is quite specific, but I wouldn't mind going towards a more general approach to my work in the future.
Do you think the Covid-19 situation will change the industry?
Definitely, as a designer working with musicians, it's quite saddening to see so many concerts being cancelled and postponed. I think this will definitely have a huge impact on musicians and down the line have an impact on the type of work I might be commissioned for in the next few months. That's just one tiny chunk of the whole issue though!
Can you tell us about your present and future plans?
I currently plan of finishing my final university projects. One is a short film/music video I've made and I can't wait to share it! One of my futura plans would be to spend more time learning software like Houdini and Substance Painter in order to widen my skillset. I think I'll see how I can bring my work somewhere else and maybe change my style over the next year! Who knows what will happen haha!