Featured Awards Winner

Maximilian Mauracher

April 2019

A big congrats to Maximilian Mauracher (@mxmlnmrchr), one of our 30 TDK Awards winners' for 2019. A University of Applied Arts Vienna graduate from Berlin, their work was chosen by Jesper Bange, Bond (@bond_creative) in Helsinki: "A very cool portfolio. Very much Maximillian seems to have a very good eye on details. His work is very current and “du jour”, but still in a way timeless, respecting graphic design heritage. This portfolio actually made me think: “I wish I had done this!" We asked Maximilian to answer a few questions for next years TDK Awards hopefuls.

What do you wish you’d known now when you started your design course?

An essential part of being a designer nowadays is self-promotion. I realized that at a quite early stage, during my second year at uni I think, and tried to find out what my work is all about to start shaping something like a brand. Building up a large network of contacts on the creative side but also in terms of agencies and possible clients is still highly relevant, even though its become less important in times of social media and Instagram. It’s crucial to maintain these channels and to have a proper website to attract new clients and projects. There are so many extremely talented people, but how do you really stand out from the crowd?

What originally lead you in to design, and how has that changed - what do you want to do/are doing now?

My father is actually a graphic designer as well, working mostly for smaller clients on the countryside where I grew up. He always worked from home and from the age of 15 I usually helped him with bigger projects – designing catalogues and stuff – in my summer holidays. After school I first thought I wanted to be a director and was about to study theatre arts, but then decided to apply at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts. Although they only accept a few people per year I was among the chosen and my plans changed. Now, seven years later, I live in Berlin and do freelance jobs for agencies while also working with my own clients and self-initiated projects. I mostly work in branding and editorial design, but also enjoy collaborating with developers on digital projects and websites – it’s especially the diversity in clients and media I really dig!

Any hot tips for getting ahead at uni?

I’d say uni is mostly about experimenting and finding out what you really want to do or what you’re good at. If you do that with passion and commitment, teachers and everybody around you will recognize and appreciate that. I did a lot of freelance and even part-time jobs at agencies and studios during my studies because I was always more interested in the “real work world“ than fictive projects. Looking back I’m grateful for my time in uni – I especially learned to affirm and explain my work which is extremely helpful when working with real clients. There’s more to graphic design than aesthetics – it’s about ideas and communication. That’s why I think the current wave of purely aesthetic-driven designers whose work is widespread on Instagram will soon become less relevant. In the end we’re all looking for substance and content – a story to be told.

What do you love about the design scene in your city and what companies are on your dream list to work or collaborate with?

Berlin is quite an open scene, people are usually working together instead of against each other – in contrast to Vienna where I studied and also one of the reasons I chose to leave. Collaboration is key nowadays – you can’t be the best in every field. That’s why I focus on what I’m good at and find motivated creatives to work with.

There are only a few companies on my dream list to be honest. After working for a spatial design studio for the last year and realizing projects for one of the biggest international sportswear brands on a regular basis, I noticed that some of the big names in the business aren’t necessarily the ones with the most exciting projects. I actually prefer smaller or mid-sized businesses and truly love to collaborate with people who do the work to pursue their passion.

Where do you see your career in 5 years?

As I’m a freelancer for seven years now, having worked for both big and small clients, agencies and studios specialized in various fields, the next step is for sure founding my own studio. So basically I’m waiting for the right moment and the right people to join me – I’m especially keen on working together with somebody who’s not doing the same as I do. A 3D designer or a developer would be a great addition to a future team.

I would like to explore the field of type design. Working on my master thesis I recognized a certain interest for it, but due to a lot of commercial projects I haven’t had the time so far to work on my first typefaces. It’s definitely on my schedule for 2019 and one of the reasons I no longer accept every project proposed to me.

2019 for you in a sentence

Less is more.

Website: maximilianmauracher.com

Instagram: @mxmlnmrchr

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