Q & A with Frank Stillitano

Frank Stillitano is the Creative Director at Flux Visual Communication, an Adelaide based graphic design studio that has been working collaboratively with marketing professionals to develop creative and effective communication projects since 2003. His work also ventures into publication and book design, and today we find out more about this side of his practice.

Did you mean to end up as a book designer? What was your trajectory?

After a high school I studied Architecture for four years — this was my first introduction to design principles and the creative process. In my final year I realised my passion was for design and presentation and not construction methods and building materials. In subsequent years I traded in those materials for communication materials — imagery, typography and words — thereby discovering my true passion for graphic design.

Does art — gallery, museum art — inspire you? Or film, tv etc? If so, what do you like?

Architecture still inspires me a lot. The works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Carlo Scarpa and Frank Gehry are a big influence on my aesthetic. Film is also a source of external inspiration. Stanley Kubrick has probably had the most influence of me as a designer.

What do you listen to when you work?

Normally just the sounds of a noisy open plan studio/ office. When the timing is right we usually play Triple J on the radio. At home or in the car (I’m usually still working) my musical tastes vary greatly — from classical to modern pop and everywhere in between. I think music genres are just pigeon holes and great music (and bad) exists in all of them.

What question do you least enjoy from people when they discover you design books?

I am strong believer in the Socratic method, so I don’t think a bad question exists, only bad answers. Plus I have no reason to feel anything but flattery should anyone ask me a question.

What is your favourite tool on the computer?

The shut down function! Right now I also have a strange fascination with SEO analysis software.

How do you know when a project is done?

To me any design project is only complete when either physical or budgeted time runs out. Otherwise there’s always improvements to be made.

Walk us through your design process.

My design process is always some permutation of the following stages: Diagnosis, Strategy, Creative, Review, Development and Roll out. These stages are not necessarily in a linear order, but form a circular process which is influenced by many external forces and compiled through the use of human filters like experience and gut instinct.

Which book would you like to design the cover for?

Harry Potter—because my daughters would think I am the coolest Dad.

Who is one of your favourite book designers and why?

I am going to cheat with this one a little bit and say Saul Bass. I don’t think he actually did many book covers but I think the way his movie posters communicated complex story themes in such simple ways would have worked for book covers too.

Your favourite place (store, library, blog etc) to look at books?

Today I have to say it’s probably UniSA’s art and design library, because it has a huge collection of design related titles. However in the past there was a tiny little shop on Rundle Street in Adelaide called Mary Martin bookstore. For a small store it had an enormous range of creative books. I spent way too much time and money there, yet to this day I still lament its closure.