Why designers need to do more personal projects

Design directors Rezaliando and Fizah Rahim are big advocates of personal work – it’s why they launched creative studio Machineast in 2014, and it’s why big-name clients like Nike and Heineken are increasingly knocking on their door.

Boasting a rich portfolio of innovative imagery, Machineast offers website visitors a masterclass in free-flowing 3D illustration, neon typography and strangely sensual ribbon artwork.


Machineast created visual assets for Heineken to mark its role as principle sponsor of Singapore music festival ZoukOut

“As much as we love problem-solving for our clients, we need to problem-solve our artistic side as well. Doing personal projects helps us keep our passion for design alive.”

Making time to innovate

But as Rezaliando and Rahim explain ahead of their talk at creative conference OFFF 2016 – and as every designer and illustrator knows – finding time to push boundaries is an art in itself.

“It’s not easy to experiment when you’re also busy working on client projects,” Rezaliando admits. “We usually do our personal projects at night after working hours, at the weekends or whenever we feel inspired.”


One of a series of images in Machineast’s Rainbow Paper Series, a personal project paying homage to the 80s

One particularly good time to experiment, Rahim advises, is while you’re waiting for client feedback. “To optimise the workflow, Ando and I constantly try to think about new ideas, so that they’re fresh in our minds and easier for us to execute, once we can.”

Take Translucent Iridescent. Inspired during a trip to Kyoto Japan, the pair – who are both from tropical countries – wanted to recreate the solitude of a scarf being blown by the cold autumn wind when they returned to Singapore.

Translucent Iridescent #01 from MACHINEAST on Vimeo. Another personal project, Translucent Iridescent was created using Maxon Cinema4D, Adobe After Effects and Photoshop

“The coldness of the weather reminded us of Hajime Sorayama‘s beautiful artwork, which mixes something that is supposed to be emotionless and robotic with sensual, emotional imagery,” explains Rezaliando. “We always want to have that kind of juxtaposition in our artwork. That’s why we chose the silvery pearl, which represents coldness being wrapped around an iridescent cloth, blowing in the wind and reflecting warmth.”

Show the world

Their main message at OFFF 2016 is a call-to-arms for creatives to make more time for personal work – and to share it on social media. “You never know who might love your work and where you could end up if you don’t show it to the world,” urges Rahim. “Machineast wouldn’t be here now if we didn’t share our personal work with the world.”

“Grind grind grind,” Rahim continues. “Learn everything. It’s tough but it’s part of the process and an investment in the long run.”

The Machineast co-founders are speaking at OFFF 2016, the latest iteration of Barcelona’s annual three-day creative fiesta, on 28 May. Catch them on the Open Room stage at 5pm.


‘Party as one’ was the slogan for Heineken’s sponsorship of ZoukOut music festival


Briefed to promote Nike’s Air Max Day history, Machineast used Cinema 4D, After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator to create a multi-faceted social media campaign


Another abstract image from Machineast’s holographic Rainbow Paper series