15 May 2017

T-Shirt Design Competition Winner Shares His Insight

T-Shirt Design Competition Winner Shares His Insight

Moses Phiri was crowned the winner of the Rexx Screen & Digital Supplies and Roland T-shirt Competition at the 2016 FESPA Africa and Sign Africa expo. The competition invited anyone to submit a design for a printed T-shirt, inspired by the ‘Connect. Diversify. Grow’ theme of the event, of which Phiri’s was the favourite. Entrants' designs were then printed and showcased at the show's registration area.

Phiri shared his background with Sign Africa, along with his methods, highlights of his career and some invaluable advice for aspiring young designers who wish to follow in his footsteps.

Upon completing high school, Phiri spent some time working as a freelance artist, before joining Xerox as a junior graphic designer, where he was introduced to industrial designing and printing, ‘Working at Xerox was very interesting and enjoyable, but I wanted to work in the vehicle branding and signage environment. In 2011, I left Xerox and joined a company called BERG IT, my entry into the world of signage industry and branding, where I was chiefly involved in decal designing.’

Later, Phiri began working for a company called Plastique Displays, which he described as a very big challenge in his career as he was introduced to another side of designing: the manufacture of acrylic products and signage, having to adapt to using a different set of machinery.

In September 2014, he joined a vehicle branding company called Sign Wraps, where he works today, ‘At Sign Wraps we specialise in vehicle branding. I am happy working there because I do the work I've always wanted to do. My ten years in graphic designing and working in different industrial areas has helped me to acquire a lot of industrial disciplines. My main specialties are vehicle branding, signage and graphic art. Even though branding cars are challenging due to time factors and meeting deadlines, I enjoy it.’

Phiri uses a number of designing processes and platforms that include freehand, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and CorelDRAW. ‘Following a design process is really important to structure your work, bring consistency and keep your team on the same page. My design process is not very complex: I first study the design, do some research of the project, and then start doing mock-up designs according to the client’s brief. I always design two or three mock-ups; once I am satisfied with my design I send the mock-ups to the client to choose the one they like most. Once they choose the option that they are happy with, I apply all their amendments and thereafter I prepare the design for production.

He enjoys reading the digital version of Sign Africa Journal as it informs him about what is happening in the signage industry. 'When I read about the T-shirt competition I knew I had to get involved. I love challenging projects.’

Phiri has the following advice for young and aspiring designers: ‘You need to get as much information from the client as possible. Without a clear idea of what they want, a lot of time will be wasted working up design ideas that may not be relevant to their needs.

'You need to read and understand the brief carefully from the start, make notes, brainstorm and try to keep in contact with the client to ensure that your concept is heading in the right direction. 

'Once you've finished your design, it's good practice to run through a checklist and get someone else to look over your work as they will often spot something you may have missed.

'Whether you're designing an icon, a logo or any other design element, you'll need to make sure it's transferrable across a range of different mediums - both analogue and digital. So you'll have to check that the colours, size and overall design will work on printed materials such as signs and T-shirts, as well as across various technology touch points like desktop computers, mobile devices and more.’

Phiri also lists a number of attributes that are critical for a great graphic designer:

  • Artistic ability: you must be talented.
  • Client orientation: you need to be able to work easily with clients to ensure that designs meet specifications.
  • Communication: a great graphic designer is able to effectively communicate with clients and other members of the design team to ensure that they are on track with deadlines and other goals.
  • Teamwork: all team members must work well together and communicate openly to complete a project.
  • Be open to change: a great graphic designer hears all criticisms with an open mind and is willing to change designs based on the needs or wants of a client or opinions of the design team.

Phiri's career goals are to help young graphic designers know and understand the industry better, as well as having his own sign and design studio. He cites his growth and recognition as a designer as a highlight in his career, as well as winning the FESPA Africa and Sign Africa T-shirt competition.