According to the Alumni survey, majority of European Humanities University (EHU) graduates are employed in areas related to the education received at EHU, some are also successful entrepreneurs.
Siarhei Stashkevich graduated from EHU undergraduate program “Media and Visual Design” in 2010. Since then he collaborated with Fortune 500 brands such as Coca-Cola and Microsoft and start-ups from around the world.
Siarhei, congratulations on the launch of your new personal website siarhei.design. Please, tell more about rebranding from ufoby.com to siarhei.design?
Thank you for the interest in my new project. To be hones, it is not a rebranding, rather – launching a new project. For a good while ufoby was a tiny super flexible 21 century agile-agency, where everyone – clients, contractors and accounting are contacted remotely. Our headquarters were in Vilnius’ Gediminas ave, while majority of clients were located in Moscow. Other designers besides me, illustrators and developers were hired for every single individually depending on the tasks.
Generally our Moscow direction still operates in the same mode via ufoby. It should be mentioned that due to the current economic crisis in Russia and Russian Ruble fall, this direction is no longer as attractive and profitable as before. Therefore siarhei.design was launched – it is a project designed entirely for US market.
Earlier I had a small share of clients from USA, however it was complicated to expand activities in the same scale as in Russia. Nо surprises here. If I were an American manager I would critically consider collaboration with a small Eastern European agency that does not have permanent employees and puts forward American service prices. The solution seems obvious – lower the prices and take a larger number of orders. But no, this would place my company in a row with numerous outsource teams from India, which are hard to outscore due to their low prices and agility. Having discussed it with my American partners I decided to undertake an unexpected maneuver and capitalize my own name, i.e. to focus on design, and later after the trust is built, promote production. Surprisingly, it worked like magic.
You work with clients from around the globe. Can you name some of the most engaging collaboration?
My client geography is very wide. From Sberbank in Moscow to hot start ups from New York and San Francisco. I even worked with a large bakery chain from China, developed a recruitment platform for Melbourne-based company, “Uber” for dentists from Denver and “Foursquare” for medical services in Hawaii.
Why did you decide to do business right from Vilnius? What challenges did you face?
There was no special plan. I just registered my company - I got used to Vilnius during EHU studies, this is why I decided to stay here. Only after all my journeys throughout Europe, Asia and America, I recognized that Vilnius is indeed very attractive place, both when it comes to the quality of life, taxes, costs and local talent, even on a global scale.
How did you master your artistic style and specialization? How did education you received at EHU assist your career?
I am hardly working with artistic drawing. Instead I am inviting illustrators to participate in projects, when it is needed. Although it is worth mentioning, Marc Newson’s or Jonathan Ive’s sketches are also close to 7-years-old doodles. At EHU we were taught to develop our mindset within a set of courses and in a transdisciplinary way. Hence if your illustration skills are more profound than mine, you will have your chance.
In your opinion, what Belarusian designers lack? Do the tend to follow the most current European design trends?
There are numerous brilliant designers in Belarus, who would be very successful worldwide if they had appropriate positioning and polished their English. On the other hand, talented designers have practically no impact on the visuality in public spaces, I mean social advertising, underground navigation, etc. That is why many of us are under the impression that our designers are insufficiently qualified, and the saying “Belarusian design” rises various negative connotations.
Back in 2010 you graduated from “Media and Visual Design”. What is your advice for prospective students, who consider to apply for EHU’s design degree in 2016?
Come to Vilnius, change your environment and enjoy its vibrant visual culture. Get new experience. This will hardly harm.