5 questions to Jan Avendano (Graphic Designer and Illustrator)

A good part of my days is spent discovering artists and graphic designers. One day I stumbled upon some great patterns by designer Jan Avendano and I had to ask her a few questions…


Are you aware of musical concepts such as rhythm or counterpoint when you design a pattern?

I’ve never actually thought of musical concepts while designing but they’re similar to ones used in design so there’s some overlap.
I have this on/off project called Music Doodles that I’ve been doing over the past 3 years. That’s probably the closest I’ve been to consciously recognizing musical concepts in my work. Basically you take one song and draw anything for the duration of that song. While doing those, I became acutely aware of changes in rhythm as expressed through the linework on the page. Certain songs ended up with more free flowing, organic shapes while others were sharp and dense. Here’s an example of one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jarnmang/2346392705

Are you inspired by minimalism in music? (Philip Glass, Steve Reich, etc)

Music is definitely a huge source of inspiration and motivation…not necessarily minimalism though. I go through different musical phases a lot. Right now I’m pretty hooked on 90s Hip Hop and R&B. Horrible for some, awesome for others, haha.

Listening to music while I create is really important for me. It helps the ideas flow better and gets me in the mood to make. If there’s a specific project I’m working on, I’ll choose the music I listen to based on what type of design work I’ll be doing and how close the deadlines are. For example, at the beginning of a project, I might listen to something like Bon Iver but by the end it could be The Hives. It’s a good indicator of my work pace and how involved I am with a project.

Do you use a computer or work exclusively on paper?

The computer does get used more often but I do still use paper. I use paper more for planning everything out, concepting and sketches. Once I have most of those figured out in my brain, I transition to the computer to flesh out something more finished. What I use also depends on what I’m creating. A lot of the time I’ll combine the two together – sketch a rough illustration or do a collage and then scan it into the computer and work from there. There can be a lack of spontaneity or commitment to working just off the computer since it’s so easy to change one’s mind. With paper, you kinda have to plan what you want to do out beforehand or be accepting of unpredictable outcomes.

Does working on a computer affect the way you create?

Totally does. Using the computer is more forgiving in terms of mistakes and multiple iterations. The ability to undo, redo, copy and paste makes it easier to make a lot of different versions of something. And since you have more to choose and refine from, you can come up with the best possible outcome. It can’t replace the ideation process though. Definitely don’t need a computer to come up with a concept but it does increase the possibilities of exploration and speeds up realization.

Jan Avendano is a graphic designer and illustrator currently residing in Toronto. Her work explores the interplay between structure and chaos through experimentation with analog and digital design methods. Coffee, crosswords and close proximity to corgis, burgers and music help to enhance her creative abilities. http://www.janavendano.com