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Interview With Vince Frost

Interview With Vince Frost

Designer Vince Frost. Photo: Steve Baccon

Nick Carson

October 17, 2007

“I’ve seen you somewhere before,” ventures Vince Frost as we wrap up our interview. Perhaps I look like someone. “You look like you,” he bounces back with a quizzical grin, somehow managing to sum up the last half-hour in four words. Because for the Brighton-born, Toronto-raised, Sydney-based design icon, it all boils down to identity.

His 30-strong studio in sun-soaked Sydney was founded on the simple premise of making the most of every possible opportunity – which includes never turning work down. One of the first Australian briefs to land on his desk back in 2003 was a company report for Supercheap Auto, a vast and hugely successful discount spare-parts retailer.

Not at face value the most creative brief for a designer with multiple gongs from across the world and D&AD yellow pencils tucked behind each ear, but it cemented the idea of applying great design where you’d least expect it – prising dry copy and statistics off the page with loud typography and chunky, pictorial graphs built with screwdrivers, wrenches and tape measures. Literally, Supercheap’s products made the report.

“The difference isn’t design, the difference is identity,” Vince asserts. “And identity isn’t just a logo; it’s a culmination of colour, format, editorial approach, all that kind of stuff. If a client says ‘I don’t like the colour’ it means you’re not doing a good job, because it’s not about the colour – unless it’s a colour shop.”

Fiddly isn’t the Frost* style. He’s an ideas man, his work instantly recognisable for its bold imagery, clean fonts and conceptual thought. As we meet he presses a small fluorescent-pink book into my hand, emblazoned with a giant letter F and his trademark asterisk – the symbol of freezers, frost and Frost. He’s used to being interviewed.

But softening the even tan and brisk efficiency are laughter lines, a twinkle in the eye and a dimpled grin that lend him a laid-back, slightly mischievous air. Topped with the hard-to-place drawl – seemingly rooted in Canadian, and laced with sun-kissed Australian – it immediately blows away pretensions and puts you at ease. He admits he owes a lot to his three children, who have made his style looser and more experimental.

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