Conversation with Thai designer Kavin Twikoon Part II

Kavin Twikoon is a good college friend of mine who started Time Machine Studio, a Bangkok–based creative and design consultancy. His client rosters include Nestlé, John Robert Powers, Bacardi, and Procter & Gamble. 

Kavin was kind enough to spare me some time to have a conversation with him. This is part II of my conversation with him. 

Design studio is like a person. It needs personality and character to become a more interesting person. No one wants to talk to a boring person.
— Kavin Twikoon

Mickey: What’s is the single most important trait in running your own design studio?

Kavin: Be interesting, but professional! Design studio is like a person. It needs personality and character to become a more interesting person. No one wants to talk to a boring person [laughter]. For this, you need to be well-rounded and you’ll have to socialize more. Remember, you won’t be working in one industry forever. You might need some intellectual talk when dealing with people from different industries and backgrounds. So you can’t just keep insisting on your personal taste or ideas, but you need to ensure that whatever it is you’re engaging in is up to professional standard. At the same time, you need to be sincere and true to yourself,  otherwise you won’t be able to do this for the long run. 

Mickey: In your opinion, can creativity be taught? Or is it something that you’re born with?

Kavin: I think it’s a little bit of both. You can learn from books, schools, and other people, but the knowledge doesn’t really count until you’re able to find your own way to use it. I was born in a country [Thailand] where you have to stand in line to go up the stairs. Our elementary schools require uniforms and acceptable hairstyles. We were disciplined so much when we were growing up but I don’t see any Thai adult with those same discipline. What I’m trying to say is that education doesn’t always work. Everybody learn the same thing but why do we still talk and think differently? If you analyze yourself well enough to know how you’re different from others, then you can bring out that good, creative quality to your work, and maybe add a little self-esteem to boot. I believe everybody has their own creativity, they need to develop it. 

Mickey: Please describe your creative process after you’ve secured a client. Do you outline right away? Do you just wait to be inspired? Assign it to your employee?

Kavin: Here's my six-step process:

  1. I first find the concept that can relate to the client. 
  2. Twist it around make the story interesting enough to tell.
  3. Come up with many designs that we think fits that concept. Might need lot of talking or other form of communication like drinking. This is just the initial state of work so don’t judge it yet. 
  4. Pick a few that you like and included them in your presentation.
  5. Make presentation interesting. 
  6. party after presentation! 

Mickey: I like your six-step process, especially number six [laughter]. How about your ideal client? What would your ideal client be like? 

Kavin: It’s simple. They just need to trust me!

Mickey: In your opinion, what is the most important trait to make it as a designer?

Kavin: Live your life! Spend more time to listen to music, read a good book, ask interesting questions, and do some research rather than just sit in front of the computer all day. 

Mickey: What kind of skill set would your ideal designer have then? Photoshop? Music?

Kavin: Everything combined! The ideal designer is a person that can add character to everything. 

Mickey: What do you do when you’re out of ideas or hit a creative block? Do you work through it? Take a break and come back? Give up?

Kavin: Take a break mostly. I either go watch a movie or play my guitar, anything to stop thinking about it. My teacher once told me that yoursubconscious works better when you’re moving and not thinking about a particular thing. That’s a part of the brain you need to unlock to access your creativity. 

Mickey: After a long day of doing creative work for others, do you still have time to pursue your own passion projects? If so, please tell me some of them. 

Kavin: I still write new songs and paint once in a while.

Mickey: I remembered your paintings! You’re really good! So, how do you go about maintaining your creative edge? I mean, do you paint, play games, etc?  

Kavin: I do normal things actually. I read. I listen to music. I play with my son. But, I’m not doing these things to maintain my creative edge at all. I’m just living my life and I think that helps. Traveling does help from time to time though, at least that’s the excuse I’ve been using. [laughter] 

Mickey: What is your ideal design studio that you would like Time Machine Studio to be like? 

Kavin: I wanna split the studio into two parts, the making money part and the ideal project part. Someday, when I have enough profit to run the company smoothly, I plan to start working on my own projects. It could be a short film or a documentary,  I don’ t know yet.

Mickey: What would be your advice for someone who wants to start a design studio in Thailand?

Kavin: If sleeping three hours every two days is not a problem for you, then go for it!

Mickey: How long do you see yourself doing this? I mean, do you see yourself running a design studio until you’ve retired?

Kavin: No. It’s not because I don’t like what I’m doing, but rather because it is just my interest now. It doesn’t mean I won’t switch to something else later. 

Mickey: What’s next for Time Machine Studio? 

Kavin: Recruit more “avenger” kind of artists to work with and have fun together. 

Mickey: What do think the industry will look like in 10-20 years? Easier to enter? Harder? Easier to make money? More difficult? 

Kavin: Definitely easier to enter because it’s easier to get the resources. Computers keep getting faster everyday. There will be more freelancers everywhere, but they’ll find it extremely difficult to earn decent money. I’m not going to talk about the quality of work, that’s very subjective. Technology always surprise us and there’s always a Picasso in every era. 

Mickey: For people unfamiliar with Bangkok’s creative scene, who in your opinion is the person to follow, website to read, or magazine to subscribe to? 

Kavin: So many! I’ll send you a list later. The list is here:

Here are some Thai bands I would recommend people check out:

Mickey: Thanks again Kavin!  

Kavin: No problem. Tell me the next time you’re in Bangkok. 

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You can check out more of Kavin's work at Time Machine Studio.