Grafilu founder & owner
You’ve seen his drawings in The New Yorker, like the ominous one for a movie preview of The Green Hornet in the November 22, 2010 issue. And in Newsweek, and Architectural Record, for that matter. Yes, Pascal Staub has been busy since graduating from CVA in 2000 with a BFA in Illustration. After working post-graduation for prestigious design groups such as TANK in Boston, where he acquired real world experience designing for major clients, he started his own illustration design business, Grafilu, in Bern, Switzerland in 2004. A native of Zug, Switzerland, Staub, who spoke no English, traveled to Saint Paul to apprentice with an architect and ended up enrolling at CVA instead.
In downtown Bern, Staub shares a large space with eight other design professionals in an old industrial building that once was home to the Toblerone Chocolate Company. His Grafilu workspace comprises three large tables on which he lays out his design projects, as well as objects and books for inspiration. On a clear day he can see the Alps from his window. Another perk is that the soccer field is just across the street. “When I work late hours, at least I can see a game for free,” Staub jokes. The communal space also includes an open kitchen area for cooking, a space where the designers can relax and chat.
Successes? In addition to matriculating, Staub lists “working for clients on interesting projects and who allow me to explore new directions in my work. When I come up with a good, interesting solution under certain parameters, that's success for me.” With no staff, it is hard work to first land jobs and then create the product, but Staub sees it as “part of the game.” For him, it is a question of being efficient, professional, inspired, and creative. “It's all about attracting interesting and well-known clients that let me do the work I want to do,” he states.
The New Yorker aside, Staub’s illustrations have enlivened such well-regarded magazines such as Switzerland’s Das Magazin, and Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. “It’s amazing how the internet lets me work for clients who sit hundreds and thousands of miles away. And yet creative exchange can happen door to door,” he explains. “An illustration is seen by many people far away. So in that way, success is also when I get an email from somebody in another country telling me that he displays my magazine drawings on his coffee table, so friends and visitors can see them too. Amazing.”
With an eye on the future, Staub intends to keep exploring drawing and illustration. “It’s what I wanted to do since I was a kid,” he states. “Simply put, my goal is to be happy at work and to earn enough money to sustain a family. Someday, I also could see teaching illustration at an art school.” He credits CVA’s supportive environment to motivate him to produce work outside of his home and he would like to do the same for other potential artists.
And, what about the name ‘Grafilu’? Staub came up with the word while at CVA. A hybrid for the German words ‘grafik’ (graphic design/illustration) and ‘filu’, which suggests a ‘rascal’ or something ‘playful.’ “Grafilu stands for both the earnest and whimsical sides of my business,” says Staub.
Illustration from The Green Hornet