Hello, recently a Graphic Design student contacted me for an interview. This is not the first time when this happens and in time there were more people, students, aspiring or established designers that asked me various things. I have tried to compile the most relevant questions below and to give them my best answer. I will also try to make this post an organic one and to edit it from time to time, adding new questions or editing my answers, examples etc. If you want to find out anything specific that is not yet included please let me know and I will try to offer you an answer privately or in here. I hope that you will find this useful and relevant.
• Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am a freelance graphic designer specialized in logo and identity design. I have more then 8 years of experience in which I have worked with more than 500 clients from all around the world. I am passionate about traveling, I adore the medieval historic part of Europe and I have a special interest in architecture, especially Gothic architecture. I am a Batman fan, especially of the Christopher Nolan movie trilogy. I am an official AFOL (adult fan of LEGO), my favorite LEGO themes are Castle and of course Batman, but I also like to MOC (create original builds – my own creations). I enjoy electronic music both while working, but also in my free time when I also like to go to electronic / house / deep house music events. I am a cat owner (or, at least she tolerates me as her human) with whom I share my living and working space, but I like all pets and animals in general. Bats included ;)
• How did you get started as a designer?
My design adventure started from my passion for electronic music. Around 10 years ago I was listening to everything a local dj was producing and mixing and after some time and many emails I got to know him a little better and at some point in our conversations he told me that he needed a website, but he couldn’t find any serious designer to take his project. I proposed him to try and make him one even though I had no knowledge what this meant at that time. 2 years later and after many hours spent reading, researching and trying ideas I was able to publish online a first version of his website. That was my first creation ever followed by clubbing posters and flyers, graphics for promotional cds. For the following 2-3 years all my creations were clubbing and electronic music related.
• When did you know you want to design logos?
From websites to print design, from print design to logo and identity design, for me this was an evolution that took years. In time I discovered that I am fascinated by branding and started to read more, research more, to create and experiment and after getting more and more involved into this niche I have decided to specialize and focus primarily on branding, especially on the creation of logos and identities and to use all my graphic design background (from creating websites and print graphics) in order to sustain this passion and interest.
• Which are your favorite logos and why?
One of the first logos that created an impression on me even before I started my design specialization was the 1989 Batman movie logo. It was an immediate and subjective connection, I just liked it and that even before seeing the movie and before understanding and knowing the dark knight story. The second logo that made an impression on me is the Shark energy drink logo. I noticed and fall in love with it also before I started to work as a designer. I was (and still am) fascinated by the graphic solution that presents a word mark design in the exact shape of the meaning of the word itself. A third logo that I include in my favorites is the (new) Swisscom logo and identity design created by Moving Brands. The way it looks, but also the fact that it’s a dynamic logo fascinates me.
• What is the story behind your personal logo, the bat?
In 2009 I have joined forces with a friend that was a web designer and programmer and together we have created Nocturn, a freelance design & creative digital studio as we liked to call it. Why Nocturn? Well at that time all my clients were clubs and djs, therefore the nightlife of our urban landscape. Besides this we were working mostly during nights, being as we liked to joke nocturnal creatures. This lead me to the bat idea. Going for a geometric / origami feel was also my choice since most of my work was print related (and therefore the folded paper relation). In 2011 I have decided to promote myself as an individual as well, as a logo and identity design freelancer, moving away from the graphic and web part that we were covering under Nocturn. Since I was still working on projects under the design studio as well I wanted to keep a visual connection alive therefore I have chosen to use the stand alone origami bat symbol as my personal logo and identity.
• Where did you study and what experience do you think taught you the most?
My studies are not very relevant to what I do today as a job. Of course they created a background, but they are in a different field: I have studied communication and public relations and my bachelor thesis was focused on street-art advertising. I’ve learned graphic design on my own, reading books (from which I warmly recommend Graphic design by David Dabner – a solid, diverse and thoughtful introduction to this field), working tutorials (which at that time were very few available online), browsing online and offline collections (I own most of the LogoLounge and Los Logos logo collection volumes), asking fellow aspiring designers. It was a very slow process and evolution, but despite this, today I strongly recommend all the aspiring designers to also take all these steps, especially since nowadays the access to the required information is a lot more facile. I think practicing helped me the most, doing everyday new and new things helped me learn and discover a lot of the things that I know and use today.
• How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
To be honest it feels difficult for me to talk about a style of my own. I consider that I still learn, I still experiment, I still evolve, I am still searching for my own visual voice and direction. I can notice that I like to use saturated colors, I like to create colorful visuals and that I am very fond of geometry which is heavily involved in my projects, but working with logos and identity designs where I need to understand the client needs, taste and target makes me focus more on creating something representative to his project and business rather than implementing my own style over a new creation. If I can talk about a style of my own I think this can be more noticed in my posters and flyers where my creative freedom feels a lot bigger. In here also colorful creations and geometry are a constant that I think can define perhaps my working habits.
• Can you briefly explain your creative process?
I have a questionnaire and I am basing my research and creation on the answers received to it. I’m looking for keywords in the answers to help me understand the project. I also search the competitors to see what was done before, their approach and to get a feel of the market. After I gather the information I start sketching and doodling (sometimes on paper, sometimes digitally) until I have something that I like and then I try my best to improve the gathered ideas into final polished results. It also happens to have the idea and to know what to do just by hearing the name or the domain, and this helps me sometimes to skip some of the steps, but this happens quite rare.
• How do you come up with new ideas?
I think the clients answers and my research lead to them. I don’t have a secret recipe for it.
• Do you ever have creative slumps? If so, what do you do then?
Yes, it happens. Sometimes quite often. I explore a lot, I try various related or non related ideas and see where they lead me. Sometimes taking a total break from a project, going outside, doing various things that relax me lead to ideas, but most of the times working on something else gives me ideas that I can use on the project where I’m experiencing the creative block. I totally feel and agree with Pablo Picasso words: “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
• What inspires your work?
Since my work needs to be client oriented I would say again that his answers and brief. Of course some other subjective things help me out, like listening to music or other small things that get me into a certain mood needed to create things.
• Any future projects you can share?
At this moment I would like to share with an audience more thoughts that I have, to talk about the things that inspire me, about traveling, about my non-design related hobbies, about experiences that I had in various moments in my life, I think I would like to share some of my work and non-work related experience. This is the reason for which I have attached a blog to my website, a platform where to express and share all these ideas with anybody who would be interested to read them and perhaps start a conversation or maybe even an interaction based on them. Besides this I would also like to continue and develop a project that I have started on my Instagram account which is focused on combining some of my hobbies – traveling, LEGO and photography. Besides these I will continue of course to create logos and identities, both as an independent freelancer, but also working under Utopia branding agency, a project that I have started in 2011 working with 2 other brand identity specialists.
• What advice would you give for aspiring logo designers?
To experiment as much as they can. To read and understand any available resource, be it digital or printed (books, blogs, tutorials) and try as many ideas as possible. To stay connected and interact with the design community. All these things lead to a very much needed constant evolution in the personal development as a designer.
• Is it important to have a portfolio website?
My answer to this is very simple: yes. Your portfolio website is your business cards, it introduces your name, your expertise, your contact details to potential clients and collaborators, it’s your interface with the online world.
• How do you personally advertise your design business? How effective is this method?
As mentioned and recommended before I try to stay constantly and consistently active in the design community. I use Dribbble, Behance, Logopond portfolio websites to showcase all my newest projects, but also to interact with other fellow designers. I use social media as everyone else, both for personal reasons, but also to promote my work and services. Efficiency is a bit difficult to predict or measure. I think that depending on your services and skills one particular website could get you more leads than other, but I think everyone should try all the options out there and see which one converts better.
PS. Two of my favorite quotes:
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. – George Bernard Shaw
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you… working. – Pablo Picasso