Creative, Sweet: In-House
Creative, Sweet is a movement that celebrates the uniqueness and innovation that flows through our brand. Externally, we have a melting pot of Creative, Sweet ‘contributors’ who we reach out to for various projects, and internally, we have our in-house designers producing visionary and original work every day. The BurgerFuel Design Department sits at the heart of Creative, Sweet and is headed up by two seriously talented individuals.
Meet Kole and Serval.
Serval (aka Serval Fandango) is a graphic designer and prolific illustrator. Hailing from a freelance background, he’s worked with a diverse range of clients to bring his distinctive colourful and vibrant (‘eye candy’) flair to brand and product campaigns.
Kole is an experienced multi-disciplinary graphic designer with mad skills in design, photography, video production, and everything in between. He has a passion for 3D animation and a relentless drive to constantly develop and broaden his skill set.
Together, this dream team bring BurgerFuel’s visual identity to life in-store, via bespoke packaging and point of sale, and externally, across BurgerFuel’s digital channels and traditional media.
We sit down with Kole and Serval to chat about their craft, in both the personal and professional sense, and what it’s like working for BurgerFuel.
When did you both first discover you had a creative leaning? Where did it all start?
Kole: It all started when I was thirteen. My dad had just given me an old computer and my cousin was at it making custom artwork for his friends for their social media. I wanted in on the action, so I started off making things on ‘picnik’, which was one of the most basic photo editor programmes around that time. When I stumbled upon Photoshop CS3, that’s when everything changed. Suddenly, everything I wanted to make seemed possible.
Serval: I grew up in a creative environment. My dad used to come home with A4 blocks of paper and draw with me. He’s an accomplished sculptor and painter - his area of expertise was large scale murals. He was often commissioned by local councils to create his work and you can still find them displayed publicly in places like Kaitaia. So he always encouraged and supported my creative development from a young age.
Did either of you receive any formal qualifications or training? Or are you self-taught? Tell us a bit more about how you have honed your skills to where they are today?
Serval: I completed a Bachelor of Media Design, majoring in Motion Graphics and Graphic Design, but I’d say a lot of what I do now has been self-taught. Freelancing work really helped me to refine my craft, not just creatively, but in a business sense. I had to learn how to take the time to understand the expectations from each brief, research the client, or business, in order to understand the brief better and then decide on the right approach or medium for the task.
Kole: It’s a bit of a mix for me. I’ve taught myself most of the things I know now and going to university was more of an application of everything I know. They can only teach you so much, so I find myself learning new things through my own curiosity.
Serval, you have a very distinct style with regards to your work outside of BurgerFuel. How would you define it and how has your personal practice evolved over time?
It has a kind of West-meets-East-Asian feel to it and is mostly described as contemporary.
My preference always leans to illustrative, with bright and vibrant colours and my core aesthetic draws from growing up on Anime and Comic books.
I am always working to find the balance between commercial appeal and my personal style. It’s important to me that I retain my style, as that aesthetic is what has kept people approaching me for work.
Are there any new mediums you are keen to explore?
I’m always keen to upskill in all areas of my craft. Typography, 3D, and Motion Graphics are all areas I would like to expand on.
How about you, Kole? How would you describe your style or approach, and where do you see your craft heading to?
I wouldn’t really say I have a specific style. As a designer, I think being able to dip your toes in different styles can help you solve and look at design problems from multiples lenses. Some styles are more suited to some brief than others. Now I’m on my 3D medium phase. Learning modelling and animation.
I personally like being on the tools a lot. So, I’m always keen to learn new things. Being stagnant is probably one of the worst feelings a designer can feel. And learning new things that can complement my skills and broaden what I can do is something that I always look for.
With the rise of 3D animation, I feel like that’s something I need to try out, and so far, I’m enjoying it.
What/who do you both take inspiration or influence from in your work? Are there any up-and-coming creatives that you are keeping your eye on and what do you dig about their work?
Serval: I’m drawn to artists and work that have that vibrant aesthetic and abstract approach. I appreciate the work of Keciano (aka keciano6) and I like the fluid abstract nature of their work. It has that contemporary feel and strong elements of culture.
Kole: No one in particular, but social media plays a big part in it. I like seeing what everyone is doing out there and I admire the courage to post things they’re working on. I think there’s so much more out there to see. Artists can be their own biggest critic, and I just hope people out there know that they need to keep going and they’re going to kill it and hone their craft.
You’re both integral members of the BurgerFuel Design Dept. and are constantly dealing with varied projects being thrown your way, tight deadlines and high expectations. That could (understandably) stifle any time for creative fun outside of work. Kole, how do you keep creatively motivated outside of the 9 – 5?
Striking a balance between work and life is a little difficult for me. Especially when what you do for fun is exactly the same thing as what you do for a living. Inspiration is everywhere and can sometimes be overwhelming! Being always creative can be exhausting, so I’ve recently just learnt how to turn my brain off completely. As counter intuitive as it might sound, I keep myself creatively motivated, by NOT doing anything creatively. I put my mind into other things like playing video games, watching films, and looking at awesome things I could make. Okay okay, so maybe I can’t turn my creative brain off completely. But it’s a start.
Serval, we know your freelance work keeps you busy after hours, how do you keep motivated?
My partner and striving to provide a good life for us is what keeps me motivated. My motivations have changed over time. Before I met my partner, I was mostly driven by ego and vanity with my work, now it’s all about building a sustainable career to support us both, that’s what drives me.
And if you could hang your hat on one piece of work you created at BurgerFuel, what would it be?
Kole: I would have to say it’s the new BurgerFuel Choppers artwork. What makes it special to me is that it’s the first time I fully integrated 3D in my workflow, and it’s gone to print. The sketch and the final artwork are so different, I don’t know how my manager trusted me to make it look as good as it does now.
From the get-go, it was just something I was really excited about. Being my first 3D project, applying everything I know in terms of photography to set up my scene digitally and just designing the set even though most of it is out of focus anyway was just something I found fun. Hiding easter eggs here and there is like leaving breadcrumbs that people may or may not even see. But I’ll know it’s there. It’s something to look back on and remember the process.
Serval: Re-designing the Thickshakes hero creative was fun. It was great to get the opportunity to re-create a key representation of a core menu category and add that BurgerFuel Tongue’n‘cheek vibe.
Throughout BurgerFuel’s design, there is a hint of humour - there is a subtlety that I like and that can be difficult to achieve. I enjoyed adding in the animation details, like having one character do the fingers – you wouldn’t see it, unless you really looked for it.
What do you both enjoy about working for BurgerFuel and what do you find the most challenging?
Serval: I've been a bit traumatized by past roles in big companies. Coming to BurgerFuel, I’ve experienced a different style of management that I gel with. It really is the people here, that makes the job enjoyable. What I’m finding the most challenging is that there are heaps of opportunities for me here, it’s just trying to figure out where to take it – both in terms of the briefs and the role itself. I have this opportunity to develop and expand on my skill set, I just need to decide what way I want to go.
Kole: One thing I found myself looking for more and more, is a workplace that you enjoy being in. A place where you are nurtured creatively and appreciated. And then the work doesn’t really matter much. Work will come easy when you’ve got the right people supporting you. And I think that’s what I enjoy most about working at BurgerFuel.
In terms of the thing I find most challenging, I can’t really think of anything. Like I said, when you have the right people supporting you anything comes easy.
How would you describe your process when it comes to a BurgerFuel design brief and how does your approach differ to that of your personal work?
Kole: My personal workflow doesn’t really differ from what I do for work. Apart from having other people collaborating with me, that’s about it. I tend to just have a chill workflow. Everything starts with a kick-ass brief, having a WIP with whoever the brief is from and make sure everyone is on the same page. Making sure I have everything I need to start coming up with ideas. Lo-fi sketches get signed off, then polishing it up for production, a couple of rounds of feedback later, then bam… you get a kick-ass artwork.
Serval: I spend a solid half hour looking at a BurgerFuel brief, decipher what it means, figure out the best approach, then whip it out. When it comes to my freelance work, I do tend to allow for a lot more research and discovery time, as you need to spend that time understanding the business, it’s ethos or values and any different guidelines to consider. There is usually a pretty short time-frame to get it done, so requires a bit of critical thinking and pre-planning, then it all comes together close to the deadline.
And finally, for a very important questions, what is your go-to burger?
Serval: Easy. American Muscle. No pickles.
Kole: It’s a toss-up between The American Muscle, and the BBQ Roadster. There are just elements in each burger that I really like. The onion rings in the roadster are nothing to scoff at. And the pickles in the American Muscle are just so dang juicy.