Schermafbeelding 2023 01 02 om 09 59 52

K-TOTEM Xander Van der Sijpt

Once a year, the Digital Design and Development (Devine) course at Howest launches a call among its students to develop a design for the K-TOTEM. The K-TOTEM is the regional showcase for graphic talent from the region. The 3.5m high sculpture by Designregio Kortrijk - developed within the Kortrijk Creëert project - at Kortrijk station is taken in hand every three months by a regional graphic designer or illustrator. Third-year student Xander Van der Sijpt won with his design 'Mirrors of me' with which he wants to convey the supporting message to students that they should take time and space to explore who they are and what they stand for.

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Tell us a bit more about your design 'Mirrors of me'.

We spent a lot of time last year reconnecting with each other, but as a student you also grow up and are supposed to figure out who you are. That takes time and effort, and you learn a lot along the way. I hope to inspire others to take the time to figure out who they want to be.

For me, Kortrijk and Howest offered that space, both physical and human, to explore all these different versions, mirrors, of myself. There are so many different things I wanted to be: a designer, a poet, a developer, an ambitious student, more than a wallflower.... During my time in Kortrijk, I discovered that you don't have to choose one version of yourself.There is a connection between each of them, and it's beautiful to discover all these different reflections of yourself.

I translated this message into the panels of the K-TOTEM, inspired by these different mirrors of myself, telling an abstract story through poetry and images.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

I think inspiration can be found all around us and I like to explore different creative mediums. Sometimes I find my inspiration on Pinterest or Instagram, but other times it's music, graphic books or conversations with others about a concept I'm working on. When I started working on my K-TOTEM design, my starting point was more poetry and I visually tried out all kinds of styles before really sticking to one and working it out. I did find more of my own style over time, but it's still fun to take a design and try something completely new. It is also always motivating to put on some music when I am designing, this often inspires me and gets me in the creative mood faster.

Naar welke illustratoren of creatives kijk je op?

I often really enjoy following all kinds of different styles and artists because I prefer to draw inspiration from all creative corners. But to name a few of my favourites: Sören Selleslagh, Hoi Chan, Tomasz Wòzniakowski and Daniel Liévano. These are all illustrators and creative freelancers who really do their own thing within the design industry, and I hope to get to that point myself in my further creative career.

Soren SelleslaghHoi ChanTomasz WozniakowskiDaniel Lievano

What do you think is the most beautiful spot in Kortrijk?

My favourite place to sit is still really the Lower Leieboorden. Ever since I was studying Devine and as soon as the sun starts shining a bit more, that's the go-to spot to sketch, chat with friends and have a drink! And now that it's almost winter and the Christmas lights have reappeared, it's great to see that image again in the morning on the way to our campus!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Gosh... if there's one question I find hard to answer, it's this one. There are so many different paths you can go down after Devine and I haven't quite made my choice yet. In any case, I am not going to continue my studies. I am looking forward to bringing my creativity into the industry. First, I hope to further refine my skills and gain more experience in the field. Preferably I will spend the next few years abroad at a digital agency in the U.K. or U.S., and after that I can spend more time working on my own 'personal brand' as a freelancer. I find it very inspiring to see freelancers go completely for their passion, so I think it would be incredibly fun to be able to do this myself. So in five years' time, you can probably - or at least hopefully - find me somewhere abroad. Whether as a freelancer or as part of an agency remains a question mark.

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