Creative Conversations: Josip Kelava + Phillip Toledano
Josip Kelava (YGX) is a designer. Phillip Toledano is a photographer. The two of them recorded this conversation for the YGX Annual. The YG11 Call for Entries opens May 1, and we’re celebrating with a launch party at the Art Directors Club on Apr. 25.
Josip Kelava: Hi. Is this Philip Toledano?
Phillip Toledano: No, it’s Elvis Presley. Yes, it’s Philip Toledano. (laughs)
Josip: I’m speaking to the man himself!
Phillip: I’m a living legend. I am speaking to you from beyond the grave.
Josip: Wow. Have you ever spoken with someone from Australia before?
Phillip: That is an impressive question. Well, I lived in Australia for a while, so it was difficult to avoid speaking to people while I was there.
Josip: Oh wow. Where did you stay?
Phillip: I went to the University of New South Whales and then I went to Central Art
School. I spent three or four months driving up the coast and then down the middle. And then the car broke down; we were stranded in the desert for three days waiting for someone to show up. It was fantastic.
Josip: Yeah. That’s Australia for you.
Phillip: I like your work, man.
Josip: Oh, thank you. I am a big fan of your work. I have to say it’s a complete honor to actually be speaking to you because you are the reason why I picked art direction. When I went through your work, it was actually by accident. I was scrolling through some internet stuff and saw this photograph and I started looking into a little bit more of it. Then I got into your website and I was like, “Wow”. The one that struck me most was the bankrupt series. It was like opening up a book in the middle and just trying to work out what was going on.
Phillip: That’s one thing I try for in my own work. I always hope that the experience is kind of like walking down an empty street and you hear a phone ringing in an empty house. You walk into that house you pick up the phone and then you’re in the middle of a conversation.
Josip: That’s exactly how I felt when I was looking at your photographs. I wanted to see more.
Phillip: That makes me very chuffed because that’s what I always hoped for. Either people completely understand it or are completely perplexed. Or they think its shit.
Josip: I’ve always been fascinated by what you do and the style of your work and even the kind of art direction that’s put into it. There were a few fashion designs that you did that I was really impressed by. There was one with all these cut outs of models...
Phillip: Yeah that was an early shoot. It was really fun to do.
Josip: To me that was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I was just so fascinated I had it on my computer wallpaper for a long time. I liked it so much. I was trying to work out how you do your lighting. Or how you get your inspiration. I was trying to read up about it as well. I worked out that you like to sort of take away all of sorts of things and just kind of leave the one subject in place and then let the story kind of evolves from there. And that was to me, was something that I want to emulate. I want to avoid all the clutter and kind of just keep it simple.
Phillip: I think you’ve really done that. I really love your typography, it’s fantastic.
Josip: Yeah, that is something that I’ve just gotten into in the last year or so. I had a lot of fonts but then I decided to start creating my own. And then people started getting into it.
Phillip: Who shot the photography for the Click Magazine spread with that glorious semi-naked model?
Josip: I don’t know actually. That was for a friend of a friend who had these photographs and wanted an interesting layout with some cool type. So whoever did the photos, credit goes to them.
Phillip: The whole thing is beautiful. The typography is really great and it works really well with the pictures. It’s quite lovely what you’ve done.
Josip: Yeah, I was trying to complement the photographer.
Phillip: So you’ve won some kind of Young Guns thing? Is that what happened?
Josip: Yeah. I entered my work and actually I just wanted to see what would happen. I had no idea it would go this far and I would actually win. It’s a worldwide competition. There are hundreds of thousands of talented designers out there and I just thought, I would give it a shot and try see what happens. I won and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t expect it to happen. It’s a big achievement.