Tête à Tête with Viktor Hanchmang

A couple of months ago, we asked Viktor Hachmang to develop some images and illustrate a whole alphabet for us: 26 words to define our brand called the Kenzopedia. He came back with an incredible diversity of designs. 

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KENZINE: You created the 26 letters of our alphabet in a very Kenzo style. What was your favorite letter to design?
Viktor Hachmang: I actually had a lot of fun with the letters D (for Delfina Delettrez) and J (for Jean-Paul Goude). Because these letters signified the works of other artists, I had to meet them halfway so to speak. This meant I had to delve a bit deeper into their bodies of work to find out things I could use in my own drawings, which I think was a lot of fun.


K: In general, what is your favorite letter and why?
V. H.: From a visual standpoint, my favorite letter has to be the Z. I think there's something very beautiful in the contrasting angles and the central diagonal.


K: Did you become an expert in crossword puzzle after staging so much the letters?
V. H.: It did feel like a puzzle for some letters. I wanted to obscure the main letterform as much as possible, so the viewer would find out at second glance that the letter is actually hidden inside the drawing. This did prove to be hard on some letters…


K: Is there an alphabet that inspires you particularly?
V. H.: I actually really like Takenobu Igarashi's typographic works and alphabets. He has his own very distinct technical, constructive and three-dimensional approach to letterforms, which I think is very beautiful. My G and the X drawings are tributes to Igarashi's works.


K: Do you prefer working on letters or numbers?
V. H.: I'm actually very bad at handling numbers (not really the maths type), so I'd have to say letters.


K: What anagram can we do with your name?
V. H.: I quite like 'Caving Hark Moth'.


K: What is your favorite wordplay?
V. H.: I like this palindrome: "A Toyota! Race fast... safe car: a Toyota".


K: What is your favorite word?
V. H.: Yes.


K: What is the most inspiring city?
V. H.: I actually really like walking around my hometown The Hague in The Netherlands. I ended up here by accident and grew to love the strange mix of architecture. There are some stunning art deco buildings, a few prime examples of New Objectivity architecture and some great post-modern icons.


K: What is the biggest influence on your work?
V. H.: Comics are a big source of inspiration – especially the work by French 'Clear Line' wizard Pierre Clement. I think his 'Les Souris' and 'Tralalajahal' series are very poetic and powerful. I also really like designers/illustrators Barney Bubbles, George Hardie and other artists from NTA Studios from the 1970s. I'm always in awe of the expert draftsmanship and the handling of patterns by artists of the Japanese ukiyo-e tradition.


K: What is your favorite font?
V. H.: I don't really have a favorite font, I always think a font should convey a message and it should complement the style of design or illustration. It's not just a question of aesthetics. But if I'd have to pick one, I think I'd have to go for Gill Sans. I like the fact that it's very recognizable, yet modest and understated, traditional and modern at the same time.


K: Your least favorite?
V. H.: I really hate fonts that are "the hip new thing". They seem to pop up simultaneously in every poster by third rate graphic designers trying to be cool and "on trend". At the moment it's those modernist sans serifs, with round lower case a's. I hate them even more when stretched vertically.


K: Do your nightmares involve bad designs and Comic sans MS?
V. H.: I actually don't really dislike Comic Sans, certainly not with a passion. Thankfully I don't have a lot of nightmares, but if I do I'm mostly haunted by things unrelated to graphic design.


K: And what do we see in your dreams?
V. H.: As I child I actually had a very strange recurring dream of a woman playing with baby blocks. If someone can tell me what this means, I'd love to hear it.