Have you ever been asked what inspires you, or thought really hard to formulate it?
As a designer, I have been asked this question, well, not frequently, but on some occasions. I couldn’t come up with an immediate answer that would satisfy my interlocutor’s curiosity, or rather, their expectations. I wasn’t surprised at myself, or thrown into pondering. I would never look for that one exact answer that would embody all my thoughts perfectly.
Frankly, I think that in today’s society we take the word “inspiration” somewhat too lightly. We tend to overuse it and exhaust the concept itself. Especially when it comes to creative work. Anything or anyone is easily labelled as inspiring, motivational, etc. I have no issue with that and think that’s great, in fact, because anything really can be inspiring – literally anything. But when it comes to that specific question, What inspires you? or Where do you find inspiration? …I think the answer can stretch very far, if someone is looking for a very precise and honest response.
Who you are and the creative work that you do are complex products of the little bits and pieces of things that inspire you – things that you’ve seen or experienced and might actually not be able to pinpoint clearly.
On this website I have written about how my early childhood years and horseback riding have ultimately led to the work I do now. I’ve also mentioned the architects and designers whose aesthetic has profoundly inspired me – Paul Rand, Arne Jacobsen, Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, Mies van der Rohe and other modernists, as well as, insurmountably, Tadao Ando. I’ve found over the years that my admiration for their work and their approach to design have become deeply imprinted into my mind and my own aesthetic. These things that have so strongly influenced me have become a part of me to the point where the line between inspiration and intuition gets very blurry.
With this in mind, I don’t strain to define what exactly I find inspiration in. But I do enjoy exploring even the tiniest things that seem to stimulate my imagination, or that I feel naturally driven towards. Especially when it comes to vague concepts, I like to let them sit in my mind and exhibit their nature from within, through my work.
The circle shape is the simplified representation of Mars and the archetypal symbol of cosmic complexity. I feel very driven towards the circle, and it is exhibited in many of my designs. I like to include circles in daring proportions that instantaneously catch the eye. Incidentally, the name Marko is derived from the name Mars. Marko-Mars-The Circle is a thought process that I allow to follow me through my work.
Volvo is a brand that caught my attention with their interesting history and even more interesting logo. The Volvo logo (a circle with an arrow pointing diagonally upwards) represents an established relationship between the Mars symbol and iron manufacturing, which the company was initially doing. You can read more in detail about that here. Much like finding the connection between the origins of my own name and the circle shape, the brand became a part of the little things that I consider inspiring or simply feel connected to.
Also, the combination of the colors red, black and white. Looking at Paul Rand’s graphic design work that incorporates this color palette, for whatever reason, resonates so harmoniously with my mind. At coffee with a friend, or on a night out, it’s the red-white-and black box of Marlboro cigarettes sitting on the table. It’s an utterly mundane pack of cigarettes, but resting on the table, so perfectly designed, it’s something entirely different.
Lastly, I won’t ask you what inspires you. But rather, what are the bits and pieces of imagery that you love to have whirling inside your head?