Radim Malinic on why keeping it simple often makes for your best work

In an exclusive extract from his new book, Book of Ideas Vol 2 (above), illustrator and art director Radim Malinic discusses how he's learned to make his most powerful work through restraint.

 I was once on the phone to an art editor discussing the illustration I was producing for their magazine. I’d spent hours making sure my piece had depth and detail – it was already quite complex. Glad to learn he was happy with my work, I was expecting it to be signed off right there and then. To my surprise, he concluded, “keep going, add more layers”. Looking back, this was somewhat my own fault: I used to overload pretty much every illustration. I spent hours and hours adding more detail and extras, believing I was doing the right thing.

Over time, those numerous layers and details became my style, until I realised I had nothing more to add. I started to go the other way. Gradually, I started to ask myself how I can tell the same visual story but with fewer elements.

I started heading back to where I once was – the simple and balanced space where I felt a lot more comfortable.

Radim's running club top design for Birger Jarl

Everyone is guilty of over-complicating everything in their life sometimes, especially when we feel exposed and yearn for approval. We dive into endless revisions to make ourselves believe that adding extras is the solution. It’s the opposite.

The beauty of a big idea is in the purity of its narrative. Impact comes from cutting the confusing side plots that don’t support your story.

You need practice to fully understand your tools: no songwriter writes a pop song by chance, nor do they write it the first time they pick up an instrument. They write it after years of honing their craft. They learn the scales back to front and understand the logic. Then, they might write the simple three-chord wonder with the right arrangement that will set the world alight.

Radim Malinic

The Book of Ideas Vol 2 out on September 9. Order your copy here. It's is the sequel to the best-selling Book of Ideas. Read an exclusive extract of that book, How to Get the Work You Want.

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