Inside the mind of a graphic designer

Chris Parmenter is Tiga’s lead graphic designer. He’s responsible for harnessing a client’s vision and designing a visual interpretation and has worked on numerous projects. We asked Chris a few questions to try to get a glimpse at what’s fuelling his creativity.

Inside the mind of a graphic designer

What originally made you want to become a graphic designer?
It was an instinctive choice. I used to draw a lot and loved art at school. I first realised that I wanted to be a graphic designer during my sixth form interview. I was asked what I wanted to do in the future and my answer was “I want to design cereal boxes and the logos on shoe boxes”—neither of which projects have materialised, yet!


Something that’s a first, stands the test of time without dating and excels at doing the job it was intended to do.”

How would you describe your approach to design?
For me, each design project must contain all of the following: research, clarity, attention to detail, subjectiveness, balance, intelligence and a massive amount of self criticism.


Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?
I trained as a typographic designer and have a huge appreciation of people like Jan Tschichold, Josef Müller-Brockman and Armin Hoffman—the heavy-weights in Swiss Style or International Style graphic design. 

I keep my work current by sub-consciously tuning-in to the things around me on a day to day basis—whether it’s online, print, audio or visual. I find myself drawing upon this pool of information when starting a new project—often finding inspiration from unexpected sources.


What type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most and why?
Branding and identity projects interest me most. I enjoy researching new possibilities, stretching my perception and opening up new ways of thinking. Over the years of researching varying projects I have learned about the Fibonacci sequence, Penrose triangle, mobius strip—and if it all gets too much—how to tie a noose.  


How do you think online design resources have influenced the graphic design being produced today?
Divided opinion really. It’s good that there is such an open and easy access for creative inspiration, but too much inspiration can lead to ‘generic work’. Ultimately all design is influenced by something, but it’s how the designer uses that inspiration to the advantage of the brief they are working on which distinguishes the good from the great.


What are you passionate about besides your work?
Motorsport—I love track days and am currently working my way through the UK’s circuits, although with the arrival of my first child this year I imagine track days (and anything else ‘unnecessary’) will now take more of a back seat.


Do you have any superstitious beliefs or rules that you live by? 
Apart from saluting lone magpies and not walking over three drains (leaving aside my OCD for typesetting), my main rule is to always start each project with a pen and paper.


What’s your personal motto?
The work I create is not only for the client and Tiga, but also for me. I always strive to create a better piece of work than my last project.


What do you think makes a design iconic?
For me iconic design is something that leads the way. Something that’s a first, stands the test of time without dating and excels at doing the job it was intended to do.

It’s difficult for me to choose between Harry Beck’s underground map or Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s road signage network. Not sure why I’m drawn to wayfinding projects but for me these two are iconic and so exceptional that they are still being used today—decades later. Unbelievably the London underground map was first created 84 years ago!

In particular Jock and Margaret’s signs appeal to the typographical addict in me—great care and attention was given to colour contrast, type size and positioning and the actual size of the signs. Each letter was placed on a tile to achieve the correct spacing (which is actually the width of the horizontal stroke of the capital letter I—this same size guide is also used to determine the borders and space between lines of text).


This post was written by:

Steve Chatman

Steve is co-owner of Tiga Creative Marketing
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