Interview with Rocky Bergen

My name is Rocky Bergen, and I am a designer and artist from Canada. My day-job primarily involves the design and management of packaging for a mid-sized health supplements company. I help out in promotional and social aspects of the company too as my time allows.

When I get home, my interests turn to art that involves aspects of industrial design and involves creating a sense of manufactured nostalgia. For years, I have been mocking-up retro experiences for people to enjoy. Everything from painstaking vector illustrations of the Gobots Command Centre to Nike Air Force One colorways based off of vintage computers.

I have also been doing bitmap work for years. For example, I recreated the graphics for Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3 as they might have looked on a Commodore 64.

2. How did you become a graphic designer, what is your background?

I started my career as a graphic design while still attending high school through a cooperative education course with a local business that was in need of another designer. This was in the early 90s and using computers for all aspects of layout was still a pretty new thing. As time went on, I attended University focusing on Drawing and Video (I used an Amiga 4000/Video Toaster!). Most recently I upgraded my Motion Graphics skills. 

3. Where did you study? Looking back, would you recommend your path to beginners?

I studied on the job and later at university and after that a bit at collage. Design is my favourite thing in the world. It's pretty inseparable from my life and is most often my first and last thought every day. I knew growing up that I wanted to work creatively using computers but I don't think this type of work is for everyone. Being a creative professional can be a financial challenge as creative services are often undervalued by the business community. 

The skills I have acquired as a result of my chosen profession have allowed me to explore subjects in depths and breadths that would be difficult without the hours of mastery. Would I be making artwork today if I was a plumber in my day job? Possibly, I am certain there are many great plumber/artists in the world. 

One of the reasons I started to build my online presence was to find a community of like-minded individuals. Today, the encouragement I receive from people from all over the world has really gone a long way to creating a real sense of fulfilment. My hope is that when pendemic is a distant memory I can take my artwork to some retro show across Europe and help people assemble their first papercrafts.

4. Tell me about your Papercraft model project. Where does your inspiration come from?

About ten years ago I started showing some of my technical drawings at some art shows. The reception was largely positive but there was something of a divide between the viewer and the work. It was only once I started to experiment with turning these drawings into papercrafts did things begin to take off. I knew I wanted to make some artwork that reflected the many years of fun I had with retrocomputers so this has become the primary subject of this body of work.

As I made a few different papercrafts, I began to see them as a tiny computer museum. Now with so many people staying at home, these papercrafts have become an affordable, space efficient, education activity people can do with few barriers to entry. The papercrafts are free to download, print, and assemble. I do my best to balance accuracy with ease of folding. Some models are easier to put together than others. I have a few tips highlighted in my Apple II assembly video.

5. You said you are a lifelong learner. What is the main focus of your attention today?

Over the past 5 years I have become increasingly fascinated with mechanical watches. I am attempting to teach myself how to create successful watch. It is teaching me about design while working within very tight tolerances and the need to work with existing movements. I have been researching the rich history of horology and ideally, I would like to design my own line of watches someday. My tendency to think "retro" is informing this new work but I am using this time to create something new and exciting.

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