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Avril Smit

Driven by the detail of design and the idea of keeping the soul of a concept alive from mood board to printing press. Fascinated by purposeful design, beautifully executed. Her capacity to translate a design idea into three-dimensional perfection is legend.  

Q: Describe what you are and what you do.


A: I am a design / detail engineer, I suppose you say. I have the capacity to really focus on the minutiae and bring it all to life from concept to print, without letting it lose its soul. So often, design loses its mojo in DTP because the process is so mechanical. My background is creative, and I understand the nuances of the creative process. I am able to keep the essence of the idea alive, right up to the final realisation of the idea in print. 

Q: Print and production methods are changing so fast – how do you keep up?


A: Yes, substrates and materials are changing, and there are exciting developments. I go to trade shows and design conferences that inform us of new directions. M and I also travel purposefully, picking up perspectives and trends as we go. I have to say that as much as design is changing, it is also leaning heavily on old school processes. A lifetime spent assimilating the nuances of ink and paper, colour and 3-dimensional application, make it possible to achieve things that could be risky without that knowledge. 

Q: Your favourite kind of day?


A: I love a good shoot day. One of my strong points is making the kinds of adjustments that add polish without letting the picture lose its spontaneity. I’m good at that. I’m a foodie. Combining that passion with work is my idea of fun. 

Q: What do you love about this era, as opposed to, say, the Nineties?


A: The Nineties was all about colour and special effects. What I enjoy about now is the sense of restraint. The return to simplicity. Simple substrates, simple typography, simple formats. But with something as simple as – for instance – a de-packaged food item that only has a product name on a band, achieving perfection is much, much harder. It has to be millimetre perfect. Colour and choice of substrate all come into play. This is where a perfectionist can add value. I don’t let it get lost in the finish. 

Q: Your favourite kind of challenge?


A: Executing the simplest design, beautifully, is much harder than making an impression with packaging that has all the bells and whistles. I also consider it a challenge to bring all the people involved on board and inspire printers and production people to feel they can innovate and add to the end result. Very often, I bring printers in at concept stage. It’s amazing what happens when you make them part of the team. Another great challenge: creating stand-out design on mass market brands. My biggest thrill. 

Q: One of the best compliments you’ve had?


A: I’ve been told by my team that consistency is the one thing that defines me. I think consistency is important and I consider it a compliment. Another great compliment was from one of our peers in print production, who I admire enormously, and who currently works at a senior production level for a premium retailer. He told me his lifetime dream has always been to work for M&A, to produce to the kind of standards that we put out here. I am flattered.

M&A Imagineers (PTY) Ltd. © 2016

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