Interview with Piers Spencer-Phillips, color, trim and GFX designer at KISKA for KTM & Husqvarna


During the past four years I have been changing my blogroll routine, running away from the mass media to focus on the small, honest media. I guess that is why I ended up visiting Derestricted everyday. It started as his personal portfolio to show the world his industrial designs and nowadays it has become a reliable, beautifully designed and regularly updated site for exclusives photographs and sneak previews. But who’s behind it and how can he have access to such info?

The man behind the project is Piers Spencer-Phillips, a briton based in Salzburg currently working for KISKA, an Austrian company responsible for some of the most impressive KTM’s vehicles such the Duke family, including the 1290 Super Duke R, or the KTM X-Bow. I’ve always wondered how these guy’s lives look like so I hit him with some questions to find out.


//BACKGROUND & PERSONAL

After your name, job and your homeland, what’s next when introducing yourself?

Everybody strives to find an identity for themselves in life, and at one time or another I would have called myself a motorcyclist, a skater, a snowboarder, a skier, a mountain biker, and/or a motocrosser amongst other things! Like most people with a passion for these sports, I always identified with them far more than I did with my nationality.

Nowadays these are all as much a part of me as they ever were, but I guess you could add Husband and father to that too!

Many (especially young) people might be wondering what to do to be a designer. What kind of path did you follow? Would you like to give any tip to those students in college/highschool?

Work hard, play hard, practise, and practise some more. Learn from your mistakes. Stay up late. Wake up early. Being good at something takes time and hard work. Study those you aspire to be like and try to learn from them. You can see further standing on the shoulders of giants.

Back in the days when you were a student, what came first, motorbikes or design?

I was too poor to own a motorbike as a student, so becoming good at design became a goal to try to get a good job and make some money. When I was a student I skated a lot to compensate for having no bike.

In motorcycle racing, one can quickly find a difference between those who are naturally talented and those who are not. Were you already a great drawer in primary school?

I was ok I guess, but design only really became interesting to me when I saw what you could do with things like 3DS MAX, illustrator, code, after effects and photoshop!

From your studies in Sheffield, which you would say was the most useful subject? Or maybe not what, but who was the most helpful for one’s development.

My university course was not great really. I taught myself all of the theory and software I needed over many late nights at home rather than learning it in class. Apart from that, the most uselful thing I learned at University was in the week after I had graduated. I sat down with a friend and learned to do some basic HTML and CSS coding in order to make a website to showcase my Industrial design degree projects and find a job. This was at the height of the dotcom boom and web designers were massively in demand. Knowing some basic coding got me started in the design industry as a web designer, and eventually lead to me moving to Alpinestars in Italy as a web and Graphic designer which was how I got started in the motorsports industry.

When was the last time you gave yourself a treat (a whim)?

Today! I am on holiday at the moment in a hotel at 2300m on a glacier and not having done anything like it for a few years since my kids were born, I decided I would treat myself to charging off a big Cliff this morning on my skiis into deep pow! Actually I did it 4 times it was so good! One of the jumps is on my instagram, just not the biggest and best one, obviously nobody was around to see that ☺

//HOBBIES & ENTERTAINMENT

Let’s say you have a weekend off after months of non-stop work. What would be the perfect plan?

Moto, biking, snowboarding or skiing! Or just chilling with my wife and kids when my wife doesnt allow me to do the former. Nowadays you never really unplug completely though. At least I dont. Never not working.

I guess you have been to many places riding bikes. What’s your favorite and why?

Dirtpark in Hungary! It’s more than just a track, its a whole valley, with motocross tracks, supercross track, enduro loops and a really nice historic old town (Pécs) nearby to sink some beers and have some nice food in the evening after riding all day! Its the best spot I know for a proper holiday with some riding buddies. It’s always quite a treck to get there too, which somehow makes it extra special! Other than that, riding enduro in Ibiza is always brilliant, I did it once with Klaus Kinigarder and KTM tours and once with a dude named Shlomo and both times it was epic!

As we can see in Derestricted, you have a eye for photography. What kind of equipment and software do you use?

Thank you! Canon or iPhone and Photoshop.

What’s the shot you are more proud of?

I had to think about this question for a while and in the end, I think I didnt take that photo yet. I have some potos I have taken that I like but I still dont have the range of lenses necessary to get the quality of images I aspire to. In order to do this I need some F2.8 lenses or lower f stop, and once I do I hope to take some potos I am really proud of. I like most of these enough to post them though ☺

You might like to check this out http://derestricted.com/category/psp-photo

//PROFESSIONAL

Before KISKA, you worked for Fox and Alpinestars. Who or what is the biggest influence when drawing the first sketch?

Design is not art really, so the answer is a boring one, it is the target audience and the context and limitations of the Project.

Also regarding the apparel, I have noticed a „back to 90s“ movement, namely highlighted colors like pink, violet, light green etc… What do you think will be the next step?

Everything is in nowadays at the same time, it just depends on where you look.

At KISKA, you have been responsible for many of the graphics KTMs off road and street bikes as well as Husqvarna’s. From all of them, could you pick up your favourite?

Tricky! Being responsible for coming up with the CTG for the recent relaunch of Husqvarna was quite an honour. For KTM, any of the 6 days bikes I guess, and maybe the AMA SBK RC8 GFX!

Could you explain how is the process of designing those graphics? From the first sketch, to the final product, when do you see the bike for the first time etc…

Working at KISKA I would see the bikes being designed by the transportation designers all the way from the 1st sketches. I would normally just try to put the cherry on the top in the first year of a new model, and then change the intensity and balance of the Color, trim and GFX each model year up until the next new generation model is launched.

One of my colleagues wanted to know how many napkins have you used. Let me explain the question… he used to work in a studio where many of their designs were „developed“ in the cafeteria: napkins, were the closest thing to a paper over there.

Back when I lived and worked in London we would have quite a lot of meetings in the pub at lunch which were actually surprisingly productive so we would would often use beer mats to draw on!

What’s the most disturbing thing for a designer?

The same as in most proffesions I guess, having to sometimes do things (design directions) you totally disagree with! Also having to deal with all of the politics.

If I remember well, the kid riding his bike on the snow is your son, right? What’s his favorite motorcycle? and the one he likes the least?

His favourite bike is the “proper kids non electrish (his Word for electric) motorbike” he didnt get yet! He doesn’t have a least favourite.

//DERESTRICTED

DERESTRICTED, which started as your own portfolio, has become a beautifully designed website for exclusive photos, reviews, etc… What’s your plan for the site?

Thanks! The plan is to keep trying to keep people stoked on biking, to try to créate even more original content, do more product reviews and ultimately get some more advertisers to make enough revenue off the banners to justify to my wife the silly amount of time I spend doing the website!

Have you ever been in trouble for showing bikes that hasn’t been officially presented yet?

Hahahaha Yes, but It was never intentional. You would think once a new generation of bike was not only in the stores, but had already been sold to many people it would not be a problem to show it!

//FREE SPEECH

After 7 years at KISKA the time has come for me to leave in order to let my wife go back to work fulltime as a doctor after our 2nd kid!

My time will be spent building up derestricted, taking care of our kids, working on various projects and taking on some freelance work when I have the time.

Thank you! See you at derestricted.com !