Interview with Björn Kremer

As you may know, every year we run a poster design competition for the Berlin Summer University of the Arts. In co-operation with Prof. Fons Hickmann, we choose the best poster designed by one of his graphic design students. We talked to this year’s winner Björn Kremer (27) about his poster concept and work approach. 


How did you get started as a designer? Was there anything that first drew your interest in visual communication and design?

Actually, I started to get interested in graphic design and design in general when I was about 14 years old. I used to have an online blog back then but I never liked the default layouts, so I downloaded Photoshop and designed my own layout for it. After that, my interest in design scene and graphic design, in particular, grew more and more. Later I found out that I also got a great passion for photography.   


How do you go about starting a piece of work and how does your creative process look like?

First I do a lot of research, concept- and content-wise. I look for inspiration and at what has been done before, make myself familiar with the topic and get a better perspective before it goes into designing at all. As soon as that part is done, I start working on sketches and develop my own interpretations. I prefer to go straight digital and often need the opportunity of changing the sketch quickly, that Cmd+Z if you like. Sketching for me is like mixing ingredients until you get to what you want it to be.


What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding your work?

Movies, photographs, magazines or even interesting Instagram feeds — it can be anything. If I see something that appeals to me visually, I try to adapt it and incorporate into my own aesthetics. 


Where did you take inspiration for the Berlin Summer University poster? Could you tell us more about the concept?

Once on a sunny summer day, I went to take some photographs and noticed how the scattered light beautifully flared in the lens. In fact, that summer glare went through every picture I did. When working on the idea for the poster, I went back to those memories and took the lens flare effect as a basis for the poster design. My goal was to get away from the classic visualization of summer eliminating explicit and highly recognizable summer symbols. That’s why I only used the colors —those of a warm summer sunset— and nothing else. The final project consists of two color schemes that work as a series and deliver the feeling of summer in an abstract way, leaving space for interpretation. 


What have you been working on recently?

My portfolio is a permanent construction site which has been following me for years now (laughs). If to be serious, this semester I was part of the class called “Drift”, which dealt with strolling around the city. Our assignment was to choose a place in Berlin and present our vision of it in form of a magazine. I picked Alexanderplatz and tried to portray the square without its main symbol —the TV tower— which became some sort of a touristic cliché. The attempts of getting a different perspective on the place I’ve visited hundreds of times before were challenging, but it was exciting for me to realize how the process of searching changes my way of seeing and my perception of Alex. 


Which artist, living or dead, would you want to collaborate with?

I love Vivian Maier's work! Her photographs were only exposed to the public after she died and I am a huge fan of her work. She did incredible street portraiture without people noticing and her talent for documentary photography is very inspiring. Her photographs change my every-day way of seeing when I walk through the streets. I would love to have a coffee with her and talk about her aesthetics/photography. 


What are you passionate about besides your work?

I love to travel and visit places I’ve never been before! That is also always a great opportunity to use my camera and photograph everything I can.  


What’s your personal motto?

Don’t take everything so serious. 


If you could describe yourself in three words, what would it be?

Curious. Spontaneous. Easy-breezy.


What’s the best piece of advice you have heard (from the teacher, colleagues or friends) and would repeat to others?

Number one: Always stay curious. Number two: Rules are there to be broken. Those two pieces of advice go hand in hand and they helped me to stay interested and excited about the work I do. If you stay in your comfort zone for too long, it gets boring very quickly.


Thank you, Björn!



Photo: Antonia Charlotte Neumann
Photo: Marina Tkhorzhevskaia