Creative Industry Life by Pixelcadet, a Berlin-based Graphic Designer

Welcome to the sixth edition of #StoriesTime! Today, we dive in to find out more about Ludovicus Gees’ world, our collaborator in the latest RDPNT T-shirt drop.

Gees is a Berlin-based art director, pixel artist, and board game enthusiast. He is also known as @pixelcadet on Instagram and currently working on one of the biggest agencies in Germany, named Scholz and Friend. In his free time, he also developed his own board game, named Papeon Wargame, which combines pixel art, papercraft, and board games.

In this interview, he shared about his life as a graphic designer in Berlin, his opinion about the gap between creative industries in Indonesia and Germany, and also the story behind the newest t-shirt of RDPNT. Let’s check this out.

Hi Gees, thank you for making time for us. We hope you are well in this COVID-19 pandemic situation. How are you doing in Germany?

Gees: I’m fine. Besides the negative effect, this COVID-19 pandemic situation gave me the opportunity to have more free time and organize my work more neatly. Under normal conditions, the agency’s life made me overworked and super busy.

Well, my first question is why did you choose graphic design as a major in college, and why in Germany?

Since high school, I liked to design t-shirts. I also joined lots of communities that allow me to explore more about design. I can feel a sense of accomplishment when my idea could turn into art and people love it. This is the trigger that made me choose to become a graphic designer.

However, when I asked my parents to enter the art department in college, they didn’t give me permission. They thought that art has never been a promising future in Indonesia. But I kept on trying to convince them. Long story short, they allowed me to choose the art major if only I studied abroad. Then, I did my research and got a suggestion from my friend. Finally, I chose FH Potsdam university in Germany, located in ‘Berlin-coret’.

I am glad to know that you can pass the very first test, which is your parent’s permission. We know that many people with the same dreams as yours in Indonesia have to bury their dreams due to lack of approval. By the way, why did you choose pixel art as an identity?

As an artist, I have to define my own style that can differentiate me from other artists. In 2015, pixel art was growing rapidly in the indie gaming community. As a 90th generation, I didn't have much experience of playing with pixel art games. So I think it’s cool to become a pixel artist and dig deeper about pixel art.

Also, In the first year of my university life, I was allowed to learn about many art-line studies, such as UI-UX design, illustration, and craft art. Then, in the 2nd year, we had to choose our major and I’m very interested in digital-related art.

"This was started as a pure hobby, but it is a good idea to make money from our own great work."

Besides your life as a graphic director in a creative agency, you also designed your own board game, named Papeon Wargame. What is the idea behind Papeon Wargame?

I love to play board-games with my friends but sometimes it feels boring. Most board games only include “luck” from the rolling dice or counting game like monopoly. So I want to do something new that can make board games more fresh and fun. In Papeon Wargame, I put the ‘skill’ factor in addition to luck.

Since I majored in pixel art, I tried to combine board games, pixel art, and papercrafts into a royal battle game. The story is about a battle between two big kingdoms on the battlefield and you have to shoot the enemy with your own hands.

This was started as a pure hobby, but it is a good idea to make money from our own great work.

Click here to know more about Papeon Wargame.

Wow, that’s so cool. Let’s talk about your daily life in Germany, what is the biggest challenge to be a foreigner and also a graphic designer there?

I discover there are two biggest challenges while in Germany. The first problem is the visa. I only have a working visa which is supported by the company that I work now. I can not take a job outside of my field of study and can not take a freelance job.

The second biggest challenge that I felt was the workload. I have to work more than 40 hours a week. It took up a lot of my time and made me unable to do anything else I liked.

Why are you interested in working at Scholz and Friend company?

As someone who works in the art world, I am certainly looking for a great portfolio and experience. This company is well established and has a good reputation for handling clients from various backgrounds. I feel this can be a good provision for me in the future.

Then, what will you do with the portfolio? Are you interested in building your own agency company?

Oh, of course, my ultimate goal is to start my own company in Indonesia. Maybe a few years from now.

From your point of view, how difficult is it for Indonesians to find a job in Germany?

Opportunity is wide open! All of us here are tested based on our quality. At some companies or universities, we have the same opportunities as the locals and people from other countries. The challenge is we have to find our own uniqueness and stand out.

What is the difference between the creative industries in Germany and Indonesia?

I think it's all about the mindset of our people. As long as there is still a lack of respect for designers by considering that their work is only a "hobby", "easy work" and "Harga Teman", then the creative industry will find it difficult to develop.

Artists mostly have difficulty determining their rates, working hours, and proper contract documents for clients. This will hamper the productivity of the artists. Don't forget that the artist is also human and we need to eat.

"As long as there is still a lack of respect for designers by considering that their work is only a "hobby", "easy work" and "Harga Teman", then the creative industry will find it difficult to develop."

What can you learn in Germany and you think it will be very good if applied in Indonesia?

Interesting question! We will talk about social welfare and the role of government in this matter.

In Germany, many people prefer to be students, even up to 7 to 10 years. Students are not being charged with tuition fees, do not have to pay taxes, and get compensation from the government every month. With these benefits, they have the opportunity to explore what they enjoy, like music or design art, without having concerns about living expenses.

In Indonesia, to be an artist sometimes we have to have another permanent job. This is due to money from doing art, often couldn’t cover living expenses. If only our government policy could be more like Germany, that would be a very good step and our people can bravely choose their passion.

I totally agree with that! Anything else you want to bring to Indonesia?

I will bring the professionalism and work ethic that I learned in Germany. We are open to discuss the prices here. People in Germany know that this is all about business and they’re not mixing friendship with business.

Talking about starting something through art, you have a blog called What is it that you share on that blog?

I try to share the spirit of exploration and open-mindedness. Those are always the things that I want to state with my art. I don't want to be an artist who only draws or takes pictures of something. I want to combine two different things and turn them into something new. On my blog or my Instagram, you will see a mixture of content about pixel art and photography. The Papeon wargame we discussed earlier was also a mixture of pixel art, board games, and papercraft.

I believe that art allows me to explore things and experiment in creative ways. Someone told me that, if you want to produce creative content about the automotive industry, don't compare it to automotive industries. You have to look for something different. You will see more perspectives from various points of view by doing that.

Talking about the design that you created in the latest RDPNT t-shirt, what is the story behind it?

The biggest mental block that every artist must face is how to become self-aware. We have a kind of strict standard for ourselves that sometimes leads to overthinking and procrastination.

When Jerry first came to me to discuss his latest project, RDPNT, it brought back high school memory when I was so passionate about designing t-shirts. Then he asked me to collaborate with him in this edition. The idea is a combination of adrenaline junkies as the core identity of the RDPNT and some cool icons from Berlin.

There are many ideas that popped into our heads. Our first idea is to make something about graffiti. Then move to 'ojek online' in Indonesia, because we think that they are the real adrenaline junkie in pandemic situations like this. But all these ideas, just turn into overthinking and procrastination.

"I think this word is aligned with adrenaline junkie’s world. Sometimes you have to think later and act first."

Then, what brought you to this cool design?

The deadline was very close at that time and I knew I had to produce something. I began to draw whatever illustrations came to my mind. At first, I only drew a bear with claws, then I thought it would be good to put the words "Think Later" under the bear image.

I think this word is aligned with adrenaline junkie’s world. Sometimes you have to think later and act first. If you want to do wall climbing, just do it. If you want to start skateboarding at the age of 30, just go for it. Don't just sit there thinking too much about everything. Think later and produce something. We never know if we never start.

That's a pretty good philosophy. But, why bear with claws?

Bear is one of Berlin's icons. Honestly, after the design was ready and we presented it to several colleagues, they didn't realize that the picture was a bear. They think it's a kitten or a dog. Hahaha. Like wth, man! There had never been a cat with claws on its arm.

So we agreed to call the design a mythical creature -with great, charming and extraordinary potential- from Berlin. Period.

Hahahahaha In the end, the final decision always comes from the artist, right? Hmm the last question, do you have a suggestion for a friend who wants to be a designer like you but not approved by their parents?

First, you must believe in yourself and your choices. Then, do the proper research about it and give it to your parents.

Let me explain based on my experience. Research your topic, find out how big your career opportunities are in the future, and in what country you want to study. Use proper research, so you can state facts for your arguments and let your parents know.

In my opinion, there are some jobs that will be optimized and replaced with robots or computers in the future. However, some jobs can only grow and change to other media, but cannot be changed with robots. Art is one of them. Humans have always been the main role of art itself. Soft skills and a sense of art cannot be changed by robots.

And actually, the hardest part is after you get approval from your parents. You must survive and prove to them that you can make a living from your choices.

It is an honor for the RDPNT team to be able to interview Gees a.k.a @pixelcadet and learn from his perspective about designer life.

Most of the time, the biggest challenge between us and our dreams is ourselves. Go for whatever you want. THINK LATER. This will bring you to other new opportunities. This has transformed white bears -or kittens- with claws into a great mythical creature from Berlin. So, where this “THINK LATER” will take you?

But firstly, grab our limited edition t-shirt here!

Words : Arya Dharmaputra (@dharmaputra_arya)

Editor : Giovana Briggitte (@giovanabriggitte)

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