Steven Bussey's work on "Underwater".

The art and craft of screen graphics – interview with Steven Bussey

October 7th, 2020
Steven Bussey's work on "Underwater".

Continuing the ongoing series of interviews on fantasy user interfaces, it’s my honor to welcome Steven Bussey. His work can be seen on the screens of “Pacific Rim: Uprising“, “Mission Impossible: Fallout“, “Justice League” and his most recent project – “Underwater“. In this interview Steven talks about his life-long passion for movies, the path that took him into the world of screen graphics, and his take on the role of technology in our daily lives.

Kirill: Please tell us about yourself and what brought you to where you are today.

Steven: All the way back to when I was a kid, I always had a deep interest in movies. I was brought up with it in a familiar sense where my family would gather around and watch all kinds of movies together after a long day. The unrealistic movies I would have to watch for myself however and that would be movies like the original Star Wars that I would watch again and again from when I was very young. I would even watch the credits for most movies to much irritation to the rest of the family, I would read it all and listen to the music and thinking that one day I could maybe end up there somehow or another working on movies.

As the years went by, I started to discover more films by myself too, reading the newspapers and preparing for what I wanted to see over the weekend and tape them on VHS so that I could watch them again and again. “Die Hard” was one of the first movies I really remember when it comes to screen graphics and UI. It had these cool ’80s CRT monitors with all kinds of realistic graphics on them which served as an important storytelling device. In the movie bad guys hacked the entire building, shut it down and used it as a tool to lock people in, all done with sophisticated technology. I watched it many times along with the Star Wars movies and I will never forget those specific movies.

Screen graphics of “Die Hard”.

Growing up with comics and books of all kinds, I didn’t know exactly what, but I always had it in my mind that it would be something creative. Time was flying and all of a sudden I had to choose which college or university to go to and it was really hard, because I had no idea how to get into an industry working with design or art.

It was during the high school years that I discovered design through my sister. She did a design course in the same college that I had in mind so I was really looking forward to the final year at this particular college where I could explore drawing and design classes. This college was very narrow minded however and my study counselor told me that working in the creative industry was probably a bad idea, because it would be hard to get an internship and all kinds of other nonsense. So he recommended me to study history instead and become a teacher. I failed my last exam in history, as if it was some sort of lucky revenge, because he was also the history teacher there and I had been doing great so far. So that idea was quickly discarded.

After mandatory military service, I went back to kind of a prep school for university. Officially it was a marketing school, but you could take loads of optional courses in computer, web and graphic design. It was there that I met the most important person on this entire journey. He showed me where to really study graphic design and how to work with creativity.

He said that there was a school further down south of Denmark where they taught graphic design and that I should apply there. So that is what I did. I spent loads of time getting ready for it and making a portfolio doing all kinds of tutorials in Illustrator and Photoshop. I got in and there I did my bachelor degree in graphic design which was three years of hard work.

We had courses in Flash, web, advertising etc and it was when one of the teachers showed the class the title sequence for “Catch Me If You Can” and that planted the idea that not only can you illustrate, design and work with typography, but you can also animate these things. That inspired me to always keep motion graphics in the back of my mind during all of the remaining courses.

But during those 3 years at university which coincided with the global financial crisis of 2008, I figured it was going to be a bit hard to find a job in Denmark. So I did an internship in London at Bunch Design to open up my chances for a job opportunity plus I felt there was more stuff there that could help me work with what I wanted to do. Jo Kotas was running the studio at the time and gave me the chance to work on some amazing projects and meet all kinds of people. But the crisis was still around so I did my master’s degree back in Denmark. It was still focused on graphic design and typography, but I always had that little spark of motion graphics and animation that I really wanted to dive into. I was still pushing it into my projects as I was working on my degree and I was still inclined to work in London. After more interviews and hard work I got my foot in the door with a big studio called EmpireDesign.

I asked them if they were doing internships or tutoring programs and they replied that I was welcome to come in for a couple of weeks. I packed my bags and went, even though I was still busy with the final project on the masters degree. EmpireDesign does posters and trailer graphics for films which was perfect for me, thinking back to my childhood and now somehow getting to work with movies for real. I started out animating posters and promotional content for feature films and later making trailer graphics too.

During my masters and full-timing it at EmpireDesign, me and my buddy (shout out to Martin Aggerholm) started exploring the UI scene that started to become more and more visible in movies and video games like Call of Duty and many other games. They would all have these techy and cinematic preloader screens and cut-scenes which where super immersive. That’s when we discovered studios like BlindLtd, SPOV and Territory and other studios all over the world that were defining this new style of work.

Personal work. Courtesy Steven Bussey.

So I started to dig deeper into film and TV production in this particular area. I was given the opportunity to work on my first feature film and after a one-week trial period and a few high end feature film projects I finally started on my new journey as a freelance motion graphics designer working mainly with UI design for film and TV.

As a freelancer all of a sudden I was networking, working with different veterans from the industry, different companies and making new colleagues and acquaintances. It was like two different worlds going from full-time to freelance but both of them were amazing for me and I owe a lot to all the people who steered me, helped me and those who gave me a chance and believed in me.

Kirill: What was the most surprising or unexpected thing that you remember from your first couple of film productions?

Steven: It was probably the speed and the tempo of these productions, the time restraints you had – but also how much patience you actually need to get the job done. You have to be considered in figuring out what the solution to the problem is. But you also need to pay attention to so many people’s wishes those who are involved and the ideas that they have in their head.

In some productions, the end goal is not necessarily clear until the client finally sees it. It is a fun and proactive way of working. You need to listen to the client that you work with the senior creative leader, the creative director, the VFX producer and of course the director of the movie.

I was intrigued by the way that film production operated and I still think that it is interesting. As I’ve gained experience over the last 5-6 years, I can sometimes get to the end result quicker, but it will always need a new approach to make it fresh and modern. It is not just yourself, your design and animation but many peoples input that you need to respect and it is fun to work like that.

Kirill: You mentioned Flash, which was the king of animation for a good chunk of time before disappearing. It feels like every couple of years there’s a new tool that most people are using, and then it’s on to the next one. Does it feel like there’s a lot of churn in the area of software tools at your disposal?

Steven: I think the industry gives you way more opportunities than you ask for sometimes and the tools at your current disposal is already more than enough. But loads or opportunities is a good thing in terms of being one step ahead of problem solving. You might feel restrained with Flash when that was the thing and it might have been due to hardware or GPU restraints or whatever so an original idea was way more important back then.

I think the industry realized that they needed to be one step ahead of the creative. Today with so many different creative styles being sought after in order to stand out from the clients competitors, there is loads of tools and software available. So if you need some sort of cell rendering there is software that can help you with that. If you need high-end texturing, simulation or rendering there is a software or a plugin at your disposal, and with today’s hardware everyone can deliver high-end materials really quickly too.

So no matter of your field in motion graphics you can do whatever you want. The software, the hardware and the tools are no longer that much of a bottleneck to your ideas. Everyone can buy a medium-spec’d computer, install AfterEffects, a 3D program and get cracking. But restraints also force you into working with what you’ve got, and thinking originally and maybe give the client something that they never imagined. So in the end, the idea and the thought behind it is just as important as the way it looks or how fast it is rendered.

Kirill: Between the ideas in your head and the software tools at your disposal, is one more important than the other?

Steven: I prefer ideas vs what the tools can do, but today they walk hand in hand. Some creatives out there are literally their own little company now with their own ideas and style. There is no limit to what you can do because of the tools you have and the hardware that supports it. You may need to compromise, but you can work around that soon enough with cloud rendering too so nothing is really impossible. But the idea or your own style is always the strongest in the end.

I like original thinking, but I think it is also about teamwork in many cases. One does texturing, another one rendering or simulation and maybe someone does the animation. The deadlines are also becoming shorter and shorter which makes teamwork even more important. As you work on projects together, you get to understand each other’s challenges and that way you feed on each others creativity.

The original idea will essentially drive the tool. That could be why you’re seeing so many different render engines and software tools being more and more the norm as each one is being optimized to run faster and faster than ever. The tools are becoming better because of this since the developers knows the dynamics of client demands and also the creatives need of being able to deliver above and beyond.

Kirill: If I go back to when I started getting interested in the field of screen graphics, there were very few online portfolios, and it seemed like there would be only one person working on FUI for a whole film. Fast forward to 2019, and you have dozens of people across multiple studios collaborating on these productions. Does it feel that you can no longer put your name on something and sort of say “This is mine. I did this whole thing.”

Steven: It depends on the scope of the production. I don’t care if I can’t put my own name on everything from concept, design and animation all together. From a personal perspective, I enjoy working with people and I also realize that I can’t do everything myself. I prefer to work with someone who is good at, say, simulation in a team and then I can concentrate on 2D animation which I still prefer to do to this day.

When I animate a screen that has been designed by someone else, and that particular screen is playing for the entire shot in a movie I feel like I need to show in motion. If it was a still, it would not really be ‘mine’ and that could easily be misunderstood in terms of who did what. So it can be a problem to show your work if you are not allowed to show the design and animation on your site or even shots from the movie itself. I personally make an effort to outline who has done what on the projects I have participated in and I believe all creatives and studios should do the same to some level.

Screen graphics of “Minority Report”.

Kirill: On a scale from 0 to 100, how easy or difficult is it to describe what you do to somebody who is not in your industry?

Steven: If 100 was the easiest and 0 was the hardest, it would probably be 0 [laughs]. I’ve met people who works with classic graphic design, logos, typography, magazines, posters, book covers etc, and even they seem surprised that someone actually has to do this kind of work, since it often seems very distant maybe more or less invisible or only a very brief moment in a movie.

It is important that screen graphics are not too distracting or the most compelling character in a movie. But sometimes it is an element for the narrative. So ideally you don’t want it to distract too much, but also to be clear and believable enough to carry a story point.
That’s an important skill for a screen graphics designer. People are interacting with screens, tablets, phones and all kinds of gadgets in real life so it needs to feel right and look natural. I don’t know if it is important to have people understand what we do, because it can be such a tiny moment in a movie, when it comes to the overall production. But that does not mean you should not make an effort into making it a natural element in the movie.

Kirill: And all of these devices in our lives give a certain expectation that they come bundled with a whole bunch of software already on them. My first computer back in the mid 80’s would display this blinking prompt when I turned it on, and I had to figure out the what’s and the how’s.

Steven: Yeah back then it was up to yourself to start and there was no guides or internet but maybe the library or a magazine that was published every month. I look at the rise of all of these social media platforms and you definitely see a tendency of people being sucked into that world and brand themselves both in a bad way and a good way.

Most of the time, I believe it’s in a good way. I could never imagine operating in a world without my phone again. It wasn’t until I moved to London that I got a smartphone but before that the world was still turning and I could find my way around just fine without it. I was more fixated on my laptop or on my computer creatively working and experimenting back then. I was maybe even a bit more focused on my own work, whereas now it serves as a distraction from what’s important. But people get smarter too with these gadgets. You can read more, search for more material all in the palm of your hand.

Kirill: Looking at your screen graphics portfolio, I see that you’ve worked on various form factors, from the usual rectangular pieces of glass to watches to interfaces worn on sleeves. Is that a welcome challenge to step outside of the box, so to speak?

Steven: I welcome the opportunity to work with UI and screen graphics in all shapes, sizes and forms. In the old days it was all about 4×3 screen or projection for the most part and maybe a hologram or two. Now you can make all kinds of shapes and put a graphic on any kind of surface, if you want to.

Some of the work I do if I am on-set on any kind of production it becomes especially interesting for me, working with the shape of the screen as a container itself. A screen graphic is far from the most important thing on-set compared to say the actors performance, but by exploring the surrounds and the real estate that was given is very satisfying for me, to work with that particular kind of screen graphics.

You have varied forms – triangles, rectangles or semicircles and I had to really think about the function of everything. I can not just animate the screen in a traditional way but really think about how the animation can look as natural as possible within that space and hit the dogma in a specific universe in a film. Whether it is in a universe a long distance afar or a top secret agent military facility base underground. Working within these confined spaces, big or small made it easier for me to transform my work into future projects and other similar challenges.

Kirill: Sounds like your strong preference is to do it on set and not in post-production.

Steven: I definitely prefer working on-set. You can see it on the day of the shoot and live graphics can make a set way more welcoming and immersive as a whole. I’ve gained a lot of insight into film and TV production thanks to my experience working on-set.

I’ve worked in post-production too for a good handful of studios, but I feel that working with on-set screen graphics can be more abstract and free. But it has to work for the narrative too and needs set the mood right.

I also think that you can feel it along with the entire production on the day of the shoot as it becomes more immersive. Film production is all about smoke and mirrors but the more realistic you can make it, the more engaging it will be and the more engaging the more timeless the work will be in the long run.

I look at legendary movies like “Alien”, “Blade Runner” and for me “Die Hard” and in terms of UI and screen graphics, those will never die and I strongly believe that they will always be referenced in the future, because they were so simple and clear and mostly played live on-set hence making them timeless.

Screen graphics of “Blade Runner”.

Kirill: I do have to say that you are the first person who brings up “Die Hard” graphics in these interviews. Everybody else is talking about “Alien”, “Blade Runner” or “Minority Report” as their inspiration.

Steven: I think it was because I was so young when I watched “Die Hard” for the first time but when I was watching Star Wars as a kid I never really thought about the screen graphics in those old movies funny enough. I did watch movies like “Blade Runner” and “Alien” too where they where more prevalent if you ask me. Maybe I was too scared to watch those movies again and again and study them the same way, but I clearly remember the graphics and how I interpreted them.

It doesn’t mean I do not enjoy the other classics but I’m just happy that it was a different set of movies that made an impact on me since it is good to have your own little gems. But because of my preference in my younger days this has given me the excuse to watch Alien and Blade Runner again and again and study them from a more professional perspective.

Kirill: Bringing you back to your productions, perhaps with Holograms was on the opposite end of the spectrum, with holograms that were built in a space that are already defined by the actors’ movements.

Steven: Working with holograms is for me an exciting challenge design-wise just as it is with technical aspect. Working mainly on 2D graphics many of my friends and colleagues were already deep into 3D and holograms in other productions. I always loved the holograms in movies like “Prometheus” and my interest working with that sort of stuff was growing fast.

So, when I got the chance to work on that type of work for the first time, I was engulfing myself into it. As mentioned earlier I love teamwork and when you are flowing nicely in a team you can create wonderful visual elements for that sort of work. The work was very different from anything else I’d ever done and I hope that there is more work like that in store for me in the future apart from my preferable 2D work.

“Minority Report” is one of my favorite movies and I love the novel behind it. When you study the interaction with the technology in that movie you will discover that it was very well directed and there was a strong idea behind it. The gestures, the twitch of the fingers, the places he looked at and how he moved the content and holograms was spot on.

So when I got to work on holographic elements and watching a character pretending to interact with controls and engaging with all kinds of make believe elements in almost the same way as Tom Cruise did in “Minority Report” that was an absolute goose-bumpy moment for me. Discussing as a team how the holograms would function and then forming rules that would be the foundation of the concept was very exciting. I think it is a good I idea to come up with the concept for the visual play between the actors and the elements. Thinking of them as a realistic tool for the actor and not just visual noise is essential for that type of work.

Screen graphics of “Minority Report”.

Kirill: Do you want the audience to know how much consideration goes into these interfaces?

Steven: I myself typically go to IMDB and read the trivia about movies but rarely does it say anything about screen graphics, so you have to search specifically for it. I don’t even know if a person who just likes to watch movies for entertainment, is doing the same thing or if it is only people who work with it, who wants to know how it is made. So I’m not inclined to let people know the effort that went into it on my website, but rather focus on the end product that actually made it into the movie.

People want to be engulfed into a movie for the next 90 or 120 minutes and forget about the outside for a while. If they can immerse themselves and not think about other things then I’m happy. I also like to keep some level of integrity to sustain an amount of trust with friends, colleagues and peers and remain humble and professional that way.

Kirill: I want to bring you to your work, the super hero orientated work. Is it interesting to work on UIs that have different visual languages based on which characters they were made for?

Steven: I absolutely loved working on superhero orientated work because there are normally so many sets in a movie like that and hence massive amounts of work to be done.

UIs for i.e. labs has to be grounded in the surrounding set design. During the building of a set I like to implement elements into the screen graphics itself from the set. You wouldn’t necessarily understand the content, but it can heavily influence the specific elements which just made everything very believable and coherent.

Super hero orientated movies can give you many different directions. You can explored be it organic, mechanic, using archives of documents, pictures and also video of all kinds. The work also can also dive deep into the mechanical aspects of disassembling and assembling all sorts of vehicles and simulations too, if it is relevant to the overall story of course.

Steven Bussey’s work on “Underwater“.

The cool thing about superhero movies for me is also that it was different from, say, realistic secret agent or military orientated movies where it is normally Good vs Bad. Say if you are in a universe a long, long way afar from any other star system and it is not realistic, it is sort of the same with the freedom fighters versus the galactic regal superpower but the aesthetic is way different between real life and sci-fi / space opera. With a superhero movie with, let’s say, four different protagonists the team can have four different paths or design aestethics. With four iconic superheroes you could experiment with a broader range of color and thereby covering loads of ground that was in the end can be beneficial for the entire creative output.

Kirill: And then at the other end of the reality spectrum, so to speak, is the i.e space opera or super sci-fi category that has nothing to do with our planet – unlike Marvel or DC that always gravitate towards Earth as the center of action. How is it to explore a graphic universe that doesn’t have to be grounded in any of the graphic design language that we see around us?

Steven: Every time I finished working on one of these type of movies, I ended up thinking that it’s always different and never the same. I mainly do animation, so I always have to reset my brain whenever I start on a new movie even though all the movies is in the same category, they are all different and individually never the same and the learning curve very non-uniform.

It is a unique way of working and it has to be treated with the utmost respect. If you have to explain out of this world superpowers with physics or mathematics that would be a challenge. You probably wouldn’t be able to rely on realistic curves, isometrics, calculations, numbers or scrolling text that could invoke this idea, so I myself have to think way more abstract when I animate and sometimes design those screens for that type of movies.

It was always a great challenge for me to work on those movies during those productions. It gives me the opportunity to be playful but also discard any classical rules and rhythm within animation and design. But I need to be mindful of everything that goes on within those 10 or 20 seconds of animation. It can be the slightest beep, or a small change from one section to another and it has to have a certain tempo. There is not a set of rules or a manual only corporation, feedback and teamwork and this is very unique for that specific work.

I am excited for the future and what movies I could work on that will surpass and of the productions I have been a part of and that did indeed happened a lot of times in my time. But I would like to develop my design style more and see what path will enhance the skills I have learned. There has been some ultimate nostalgic moment and also and emotional rollercoaster for me growing up with the movies I watched as a kid thinking that one day I could be a part of something like that. So I am looking forward to what comes next and which challenges I will have to face based on the experience I have.

Screen graphics of “Alien”.

Kirill: Speaking of a variety of productions, sometimes – like on a classic agent provocateur movie from last year – it has to be even less present, so to speak. Sometimes there doesn’t need to be anything futuristic in these interfaces on the movie screen.

Steven: The screens in a “realistic movie’ works for me best if they are based on the world of real-life, functional interfaces and UI with its much stricter grids, visual language and functionality. They are designed and animated with a specific and clear purpose to support an important point in the narrative and it is more about a particular moment than a vibe like a sci-fi or space opera movie. But the work itself is just as fun no matter what for me.

Kirill: Do you worry about how your work is going to age, how it is going to be seen by the next generation of movie viewers?

Steven: I’m not worried at all. I’m still wildly entertained by screen graphics from the ’80s and ’90s and even before that. I hope that some work that I’ve been a part of in the last 5 years will be looked at with the same eager, anticipation and joy in 25 years. Maybe that would inspire someone like myself to do the same thing one day.

I do not want to put myself on a pedestal. I just want to do good work, work with good people and make friends and great colleagues along the way. In 30 years time I hope that I can talk to the same people that I work with now and talk about the old work. We would look back on it and see how old-school our work has become but maybe discover new designers doing their own short films and referencing some of your own work in their work.

So, worried? No. And if people laugh at my work in 20 years time… Well, I had fun when I did it, and that was the most important thing. You have to look inwards and not worry about too many things, I think. Have fun and ride the wave and do the best you can do and you will be remembered just as much for that with your friends and colleagues than some pixels you pushed around again and again.

Screen graphics of “Alien”.

Kirill: Do you ever think that you’re going to run out of creative ideas?

Steven: I hope not but you never know what’s going to happen. I still get inspired by new productions and new things. There’s so much beautiful content being created by people from all over the world and it always makes me happy to see how you can develop and grow in all fields of creative work and keeping an eye across all disciplines too.
It is especially great that the newer generations are learning almost everything from the internet, but I welcome that because you can learn yourself from the internet too and it helps you focus and staying sharp. Developing yourself and the ability to learn new skills via the internet is going incredibly fast and is super easy. It is all up to yourself, however.

Kirill: You talked about this earlier, and it had a rather positive outlook on the technology in our daily lives. Do you worry that we’re becoming too dependent on technology in general, or maybe screens in particular?

Steven: There is a negative side to technology I think. When the first VR wave started, I was thinking to myself that I would never want to sit there with those goggles on my couch when the world outside turns and you miss what is right in front of you.

Putting those goggles on and diving into the ‘other’ world online pleases our lust for instant gratification sparked by social media and to some extent the internet itself where almost everything is available. This, I think is also reflected in modern filmmaking where most movies today are 90 minutes long and TV series has even shorter episodes. So the attention span seems to become shorter and shorter. I grew up on westerns and war movies like “A Bridge Too Far” which could be 2-3 hours long, and I would sit there and watch that movie from start to finish without blinking an eye. But the real issue is probably not social media or the internet, but the vast amount of material that you have access to and the limited time you have to take it all in.

You watch a video on YouTube or an episode on Netflix and it starts to countdown after you finish it and then the next episode or trailer starts. It’s all right here, right now and it never stops. You want to become good right now, you want to learn this and that quick and efficiently.

So what I really think is important to remember, is to be patient and study things more thoroughly but also enjoy the process of creativity. I did the final project for my master’s degree whilst I started a new job in a massive city that I’ve never lived in before. It took me another 2.5 years before I had the courage to become a freelancer and it took a lot of hard work and sacrifice of other things too. Which meant there were things in my private life I did not look after properly and that catches up with you if you do not stop and look around and pay attention.

It’s OK to go full steam ahead, but from my own experience, I have to be calm, humble and happy with the skills I already have and focus on that. That will give me more headspace to explore things that interest me and hopefully inspire and clear my mind too in the process.

Personal work. Courtesy Steven Bussey.

Kirill: In a universe a long distance away where you win the lottery and don’t need to worry about money anymore, do you still continue designing? Do you still continue exploring and challenging yourself?

Steven: I would still do what I do. If I could, I would love to take on one big production a year and then focus on my own personal projects. I would like to focus on helping people to become what they want to be in the creative field of work, maybe. It’s not necessarily focusing on any particular software or tool, but rather talking to young people before they go to high school, college or uni and how many different areas there are in working in the creative field.

It doesn’t even have to be centered on screen graphics for movies or tv either. I think that informing and telling people how you start out from the bottom, getting a degree in graphic design, finding a passion creatively, getting the first job, going freelance and finally working on bigger projects and all the while how to network. I think some people would like to know how to do that today within the creative industry. If I had that sort of free time, I would focus on relaying my path and give away that knowledge whilst learning people how to use After Effects or something else.

Kirill: I’m probably spending way too much time on Instagram these days, but it’s mostly because it seems to be the “it” place for creative artists to share their work. I love following your stream where you share different experiments which are not necessarily in the field of screen graphics.

Steven: Thank you so much. The thing is that if you want to see my professional side you can go to my website. But if you want to see the quirky and the more clumsy side of me, you can go to my Instagram and see all of those little unfinished mistakes and test results. I love doing 36 days of type for instance. Once a year it takes me out of the regular creative work that I do and puts me back to earth a bit.
I realize that I do need to be more proactive on that platform. I am hoping that I could get some small and different projects through it, something in the area of either fashion, branding, corporate or more classic motion graphic jobs. More of my professional work will be put up there.

I would like to give my followers a different experience than my professional work. I am currently planning to set up an extra Instagram channel too with an attempt to become better at photography. I can’t wait to put content on it and see what happens to it. If anything, it would maybe give birth to different project, a new skill or just a hobby.

Kirill: The darker side for me is to be able to disconnect from that endless stream. Is there something great just beyond this last swipe? What am I going to miss if I stop now? You spend so much time on it, and you see a lot of great stuff, and yet at the end you are not always happy because there is no end to it.

Steven: That’s true. You browse all of this content, and you’re flooded with this magnificent bulk of work. There are amazingly creative people everywhere and they can feed you all of these fresh and new ideas. It can be overwhelming and you can get engulfed in it and maybe lead to ‘creative depression’ and self doubt. Especially if all you are posting is amazing or super polished content which is called ‘work in progress’ by the person who made it. You can push yourself into a dark corner where you might be thinking that you’re not good enough and do less work that way.

But probably what you really need to do is go for a walk or a 5K run. Then come back, sit down and do your own stuff instead and experiment a little bit on your own terms. You might end up with something completely crazy, but you may end up with one of those eureka moments because it is your own work and not someone else’s.

That said I do get inspired by Pinterest, Instagram, Behance and all kinds of platforms I am guilty as charged. So to avoid swiping, liking and drowning yourself on Instagram, for me, the best thing is picking up a magazine or a book that I bought and spend some time flipping those pages with my hands. My head is clearer when I do that and there is actually an end to a book or a magazine. So when you close that book or magazine it is easier to put it away and start your own work.
That is how I try to work. The first couple of rounds of ideas are always bad and not really working. But then I try to calm down, sketch in a notepad and look into my favourite source of inspiration, think about it all and then focus. Go for that lunch break if you are stuck too, get some air, get a cup of coffee. Do what your brain needs to do to reset, so that when you come back, you feel ready and you know what you need to do with and for the team.

Steven Bussey’s work on “Underwater“.

And here I’d like to thank Steven Bussey for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about the art and craft of screen graphics, and for sharing the supporting materials for the interview. You can find more of his work on his Vimeo, Instagram (here and here) and Behance profiles. And if you’re interested to read additional interviews about the wonderful world of screen graphics and user interfaces for film and TV, click here for more.