Natasha Mozz: Normal is Boring
Freelance creative director
by Elizabeth Lavis|
02 Dec 2022
For Moscow-born and New York City-based Natasha Mozz, true design art comes at the edges. “The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard is to go to the extreme in whatever visual decision you make,” she says. “If it’s a big font, how big can it be until it’s too much? Naturally, we tend to stay in our comfort zone of normal, and any good design is always kind of uncomfortable in a pleasant way. Normal is boring.”
For the freelance creative director, there’s a sweet spot between pushing design to the limit and operating systematically, which gives her a semblance of true north under pressure. “Having a methodology and not just relying on inspiration helps me deal with pressure,” Mozz says. “It gives a sense of control. I just connect those dots a little faster.”
Her methodological system and ability to know when and how far to push design helps Mozz deal with harsh client criticism too. Mozz can step into the client’s shoes and understand why they’re pushing back, a great skill that allows her to perfect the design and make the overall campaign far more successful.
“In any criticism, there’s something that makes sense,” she says. “One of the most important skills in our profession is to figure out what is working, what is not, and why.” Mozz avoids taking criticism as a personal affront, instead understanding that her designs can be wrong for the overall campaign, but that doesn’t make them bad. “That (a wrong design) usually means that during the stages of strategy, research, or even building a brief, something went wrong,” she says. “If that happened, well, we go back to that stage.”
Fortunately for Mozz, getting back to the problematic stage is pretty simple, thanks to her logical, conceptual design approach. “I always have to have a clear answer to “why” at every step,” she says. “Form follows function and emotion.”
Although she deals primarily with American and European clients, Mozz’s Muscovite roots heavily influence her work. “I feel that my Russian cultural background, though not related directly, plays a big role in both conceptual and visual parts of my work,” she says.
Additionally, Mozz draws inspiration and joy from books, philosophy, and music. “I’m a classically trained pianist,” she says.”I was also a jazz singer in the past, and I’m currently composing and enjoying electronic production.” Her professional and personal goals include working more on her musical side. “It would be nice to hear my music in a coffee shop where I’d stop by to get my oat cappuccino,” she says.
Additional external influences and inspirations include art house movies, science, and movers and shakers in the tech industry. “I’m influenced by the people of Silicon Valley,” she says. “Also, a few people I met in person played a big role in developing my design thinking skills by giving me the right advice at the right moment.”
Various art movements have also been instrumental in helping Mozz hone her designs and stay properly inspired. “The people who have influenced my approach to design are historically modernists, dadaists, Peter Bruegel the Elder, and Altamira cave drawings,” she says. In addition, Mozz gets more modern inspiration from Ilya Ruderman, a legendary type artist, Russian graphic designer Dmitry Chernogaev, and her students at the British Higher School of Art & Design.
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