DesignM.ag » Interviews http://designm.ag Articles and Resources for Web Designers Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:24:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Interview with Greg Grigoriou of Van Paul Studiohttp://designm.ag/interviews/interview-with-greg-grigoriou-of-van-paul-studio/ http://designm.ag/interviews/interview-with-greg-grigoriou-of-van-paul-studio/#comments Fri, 11 Jun 2010 17:04:10 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=28221

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Greg Grigoriou is an example of the flexibility of owning one’s own graphic design studio – this year he packed up his family and moved across the country. In the midst of juggling his own business, Van Paul, a family and a major relocation, Greg took some time to dole out advice to future designers, discuss outsourcing and explain why a fly swatter is essential in his office.greg_atstudio

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Greg Grigoriou is an example of the flexibility of owning one’s own graphic design studio – this year he packed up his family and moved across the country. In the midst of juggling his own business, Van Paul, a family and a major relocation, Greg took some time to dole out advice to future designers, discuss outsourcing and explain why a fly swatter is essential in his office.

greg_atstudio

What drew you to a career in graphic design?

That’s kind of a pun, because it was actually drawing that drew me to graphic design. I used to work as a full-time illustrator for print magazines, newspapers and books, but I gradually found that I was better at illustrative logo design. From there I branched out into graphic design. I still consider myself an illustrator who just happens to be more than decent at graphic design.

What led you to start your own design studio?

I wanted to eat and buy things. Illustration is great, but it is a very hard-fought, competitive arena to make a living in. Plain and simple, I made more money designing, and it almost always came quicker to me.

website_example

As soon as I found that I could design several things – like websites, identities, business cards and signage – I knew I had to put it all together into one design studio. Having an illustration background really helps me design in a unique way every time.

What are your favorite aspects of working for yourself?

The freedom – it’s cliché, but that’s why I love it. Freedom to just get up from my chair whenever I want – go outside and blow bubbles with my 2-year-old son at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday.

What is your most dreaded task as a business owner?

Acquiring something that vaguely resembles adequate health care – sometimes I still can’t believe I left Canada. Tax time can be a drag, but I keep things pretty simple so it’s not so bad.

Do you outsource any work, from the creative or business side?

I outsource coding, of course, from time to time, and I won’t hesitate to buy art and photography if I think it’s more appropriate or makes more sense than creating it myself from scratch.

I ‘d like to bring on another artist/designer, but I am having a heck of a time trusting someone other than myself to handle the actual creation of the design from concept to execution. When I’m too busy, though, I do have three or four designers and firms that I love to point people to, so be nice to me!

travel

You recently moved across the country – did that affect your business in any way?

Moving to Connecticut from California has been a major change of pace. The actual work-client relationship has been pretty seamless because most of my relationships can be executed virtually, but the actual change of lifestyle has been dramatic. Everything is different – the weather, the smells, the view. For example, my office used to be in downtown San Diego, with the planes and ambulances and clubs. Now I’m in the woods in a small Connecticut town. I’ve killed at least 20 different kinds of bugs in my office this month alone.

The clients are very different in the Northeast. A lot of my work is geared to tech and web, and that’s more of a California thing.

We’ll see how it plays out here. So far I love it.

Do you have any advice for young designers hungry for jobs?

I feel for the designer entering the marketplace right now. It has to be the most competitive it’s ever been. There seems to be a real race to the bottom in terms of speed and price right now, and that’s been going on for the last decade solid.

A hungry designer has to be doing very good work, very efficiently, so that they can offer reasonable prices. You don’t have to sell yourself out, but keep in mind the realities of the marketplace. That means really honing your craft, keeping your expenses low and then establishing a core of three or four really good client relationships. Once you do that, then it’s time to connect to the social media machine. I’m a big believer in social media as a tool to get the word out when funds are limited and even when your funds aren’t.

I always tell people that it takes at least five years to be a truly independent, full-time graphic designer/artist. Prepare for that reality! Of course, there are always exceptions and overnight superstars, but those people don’t really need my advice.

As your own boss, how do you keep yourself disciplined, making sure you find clients and keep deadlines?

I just have to open my mailbox. There’s usually a bill or two in there with my name on it. Then I go back to work. I try and set targets too – weekly, even daily.

How do you find new clients?

At this point I am fairly well connected both in terms of past client word of mouth and via social media. I embrace Twitter and industry websites that help to make it easy for new clients to find me.

I consider myself fortunate right now in that I have established a handful of really incredible clients who use me exclusively and mention me often to their colleagues and friends.

If I had to pay for advertising right now, I’d steer clear of trade books. They burned me in the past, and they cost a fortune. My money is on SEO and word of mouth.

frog

What’s your favorite form of design – i.e., brand identity, print, web design?

Definitely brand identity is my favorite thing to do. It is an amazing feeling to know that something I am creating today will be used over and over again for a decade or more.

Do you keep a regular schedule?

Yes, I work Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What are five items your business cannot do without?

An iMac, Adobe Illustrator, a window, a very good chair and a fly swatter.

What’s your office tech setup?

Well, I guess I kind of ruined the surprise by the answer in the previous. But yeah, iMac all the way!

I like to keep my technology fairly up to date. It’s worth every penny when you get to the point where the technology works so well it just fades into the background.

Looking back on your education, is there anything you would have done different?

My wife is probably sick of hearing me say that I should have went to law school. I think I would have made a really great attorney! But then again, I probably would not be able to blow bubbles with my son at 10 a.m., so I think I like my education as it stands.

Shout-out to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario – they did a pretty good job with me!

Jennifer Moline writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. Follow online printer PsPrint on Twitter and Facebook.


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Group Interview: How Did You Find Your First Client?http://designm.ag/interviews/how-did-you-find-your-first-client/ http://designm.ag/interviews/how-did-you-find-your-first-client/#comments Tue, 30 Mar 2010 01:57:23 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=19257

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Last week we published the post Keys to Getting Your First Web Design Clients. As I was writing that post a while ago I was thinking back to my own experiences and wondering how the experiences of other designers compared. I decided to reach out to a number of designers and ask their input about how they landed their first clients.For those of you who are just getting started, I hope this will serve as some encouragement as you will see that a successful design career can start from very humble beginnings. In total there are responses from 18 designers to the question:

How did you find your first client?

Danny Outlaw - Outlaw Design Blog Being the cereal entrepreneur that I am, I was probably my own first client.  Rather then building dummy sites to add to my portfolio when I first got started, I built websites for my own little online projects.  As far as real first customers go,  I got mine from browsing Craigslist.  At the time,  I didn't really know where else to look for entry level design projects.  It isn't the ideal place to find design work from, but it is one of the places where many of the people looking for designers are on a tight budget.  This translates to mean that they are usually much more willing to try out new talent.

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Last week we published the post Keys to Getting Your First Web Design Clients. As I was writing that post a while ago I was thinking back to my own experiences and wondering how the experiences of other designers compared. I decided to reach out to a number of designers and ask their input about how they landed their first clients.

For those of you who are just getting started, I hope this will serve as some encouragement as you will see that a successful design career can start from very humble beginnings. In total there are responses from 18 designers to the question:

How did you find your first client?

Danny Outlaw – Outlaw Design Blog
Being the cereal entrepreneur that I am, I was probably my own first client.  Rather then building dummy sites to add to my portfolio when I first got started, I built websites for my own little online projects.  As far as real first customers go,  I got mine from browsing Craigslist.  At the time,  I didn’t really know where else to look for entry level design projects.  It isn’t the ideal place to find design work from, but it is one of the places where many of the people looking for designers are on a tight budget.  This translates to mean that they are usually much more willing to try out new talent.

Dainis Graveris – 1stwebdesigner
Actually I got not only the first client but almost every client from my friends or friend’s friends. They just knew I am good at designing and coding websites and whenever they got friends or they needed something, I got a request. It worked out really great in the early days, just tell your friends what your profession is and actually ask them to remember about you in such cases. If you and friends use Facebook, post some great design from time to time or have a great portfolio site. Trust me, if you are good, they will call you whenever they need anything.

Aaron Irizarry – Solv
Since I have a background in music, I had to do design for our band’s shirts, and website. As a result one of the other bands we played with asked if I could help them with their website. I struck it rich making a whopping $200 for my first paying site. Looking back I realize that by designing for myself I was able to show my abilities and those within my peer group which led to my work. I would suggest designing your own blog, or something that you could use for yourself that will also showcase your abilities. As you interact with your co-workers, friends, and family that initial opportunity may arise as they may need design, or someone they know. So get out design some stuff, and it will happen for ya!

Michael Martin – Pro Blog Design
My first paying client was through the competitions on Sitepoint marketplace (Now 99designs.com). I failed at a few first, but that all counts as practice anyway! Those competitions are a poor way to work, but I think they’re great for starting out. If you can’t win a few competitions there, maybe you’re not ready to start freelancing in earnest.

That may sound harsh, but it’s true. If you aren’t yet producing quality work (Everyone starts as a beginner!), then the only thing you should be focusing on is getting more practice (Which is easy to do at 99designs because you can enter any competition you want. No time is wasted trying to find something to do!). Just keep at it and soon you’ll be able to ditch design competitions for good!

Matthew Jurmann – CHROMATIC
My first paying client was actually a real estate agent friend who needed a website. She needed a website, she knew I built them (or at least went to school to learn how to build them), so she asked me. Friends/acquaintances are a great place to begin when you’re looking to build up your portfolio, even if you’re doing work for free. I consider Guru.com to be a more relevant stepping stone, though, during the process of building up my company’s portfolio and acquiring work. Using a few of the websites that I had built for friends as examples, I listed myself on Guru.com and was able to acquire my first “real” job through there. In the beginning of your career (when you probably don’t have much work to show to prospective clients), it’s imperative that you have a strong, refined sales pitch.

Walter Apai – Webdesigner Depot
After completing a short web design course, my teacher was impressed enough with me to start giving me some work. I worked for her for a while and then started developing some websites for other clients.

Jan Cavan – Dawghouse Design Studio
Starting out, I never had a portfolio to show so in order for me to be able to show something at job interviews, I posted an ad on Craigslist for free design services.

Andy Sowards
Great question! I actually had to think really hard about this one LoL as its been some time ago! My first client was actually the church that my wife and I attended before we were married (we did get married there also) and the church was very small and did not even have a website at the time so the Pastor approached me knowing that I did web design and said that he had an idea for putting the church on the internets and asked if I could do that for them. I obviously said yes and that is how my freelance career began. I was not paid for the job but it was for a good cause. Although looking back on it now that site was terrible, but the experience was a great and fun starting point for dealing with clients in the real world, without anyone’s help.

Jon Phillips – Spyre Studios
As far back as I can remember people close to me have been asking me to help them out with their websites, so I’m having a hard time remembering who was my very first client and how it happened. Officially though, my first paying client was one of my colleagues back when I had my day job (and was freelancing on the side). He needed a website done for himself and someone at work told him he should ask me, and he did. This just goes to show that opportunities are everywhere and it also shows how important networking is. No matter if you’re an employee contemplating a full-time freelance career or if you’re freelancing on the side.

Chris Spooner – SpoonGraphics
Back in college I became acquainted with a guy who already had his own design studio, but was going back and getting the qualification to back up his design skills. He generously offered me a temporary placement during my studies on a freelance/contractor basis, so he was probably my first ‘client’ on a paid basis at £10 per hour. Through this position I had the opportunity of working on some great projects, including designing for a local music festival and other local events.

Matt Ward – Echo Enduring Media
The first client that I ever had as a freelance designer was actually a close friend of my wife and I. This friend had just started her own wedding planning business, and for some reason that I don’t even really remember, I decided that it would be a good idea to design her a logo. I was probably just bored and had a flash of inspiration one day. Anyhow, I just went ahead and designed the logo. When I showed it to her she really liked it (with a couple minor changes, of course) and actually adopted it as the logo for her business.

From there, I ended up designing a business card, a promotional card, some signage and an entire website (along with a subsequent revision), all without sending a single invoice. I did get an awesome steak dinner though, which was pretty sweet.

It was good experience though, as I learned a lot. My friend was also one of the people who encouraged me to at least consider freelance design as a possible avenue to pursue.

Darren Hoyt
I found my first batch of freelance clients in 2001. I had a full-time job, but wanted to earn more money and build a client base on the side. I approached a handful of local restaurants and made them all a similar pitch – simple sites with photographs and menu without any of the Flash, embedded audio, etc. Through those restaurant owners, I got some good recommendations in the community for the next year or two, and eventually grew a nice freelance business.

Grace Smith
I found my first client through local networking when I was still a full-time employee as a Designer. Once I set myself the goal of becoming self-employed, I set about attending local business and networking events (with lovely moo cards at the ready) to start building contacts. It was at one of these (a coffee morning) that I secured my first ‘freelance’ client.

However it did take time before I landed my first client, which I actually found beneficial because I was able to establish my website, branding, services, legalities and figure out exactly how I wanted to operate as a freelancer before starting any projects.

Often those beginning their foray into Freelancing will look online to find their first few clients which is great, but you should never forget how beneficial it can be to have a good network of local contacts.

Paul Andrew – Specky Boy Design Magazine
Way back when, I went through a short period of designing sites for free, just for family and friends, partly to exercise and refine my skills and partly to get my name out in the wild, albeit locally. It did prove effective, pretty soon I was receiving emails and phone calls inquiring about my services. And it was actually my girlfriend (shes now my wife) who got me my very first paying client, she was certainly very vocal about my services.

A friend of hers at work happened to mention that her husband was starting a new business and he was hoping to have a web site. And that is how I got my first PAID client.

I would love to be able to tell you that I have fond memories of that site and client, but I would be telling a lie. The money I made from that design was minimal, the client was a little bit difficult, and the site, to be honest, never looked the way I had intended and looked awful.

But it did start the ball rolling and I did eventually get better at pricing designs and working with clients.
The point is, when starting out, make use of the natural resources you have (family and friends), they will have more faith in you than you will yourself.

Jad Limcaco – Design Informer
To be honest with you, when I first started out, I went on Craigslist, replied to some ads, and that’s how I landed my first client. I know Craigslist gets a bad rap, but if you know what you are looking for, you might get some great gigs from there. To this day, I still work with the first client that I landed from Craigslist.

Zach Dunn – One Mighty Roar
Our first paying client was the classic “family friend looking for a website”. In my experience, web design referrals from small businesses are few and far between, especially when the client’s business has nothing to do with technology. This is unfortunate, because you can’t rely much on continued business, but it does add to your overall portfolio.

You will have more than one “first client” in your design career. You may someday set sights on a big client, only to find out that your current portfolio doesn’t showcase anything relevant to them. Especially when pitching large organizations with lengthy RFP’s, even accomplished designers can feel like they don’t have the proper experience to win it. I’ve learned to overcome this by framing the problem differently:

If you were to look at the portfolios of really good designers, there would be work for companies and brands that you had never heard of. The quality of design work isn’t affected by the scale of the company it represents, but by the attention paid to detail. Sometimes clients have a hard time recognizing that you don’t need to have made a website for a multimillion dollar clothing company before in order to design something for them. You sell style. Make it fit.

Franz Jeitz – Fudge Graphics
I consider my first client to be someone I did not know as a friend and who paid me for my services. For some time I’ve been doing design favours to friends and family. This also involved doing myspace designs and designing CD artwork for a band in London. Their label eventually referred me to Geffen Records who were looking for a freelance designer. That’s who I consider to be my first, real client. The combination of pro-bono work and word of mouth got me this first client and I’ve been working with them ever since.

Selene Bowlby – iDesign Studios
My first real client was a co-worker at my first summer job, which happened to be in the advertising department of the local newspaper back home. While my job at the newspaper was designing print ads, this first bit of freelance work involved both print and web design for two of this co-worker’s side projects.

Almost all of my early clients were friends and family. You’d be surprised at just how many people run their own businesses, or have their own personal projects that they need a web site for.

This early work for friends and family led to new clients in the form of referrals. Never underestimate the power of referrals – it’s the best source of business! Even if not referral from a client, but someone who knows you and what you do…

Well over 10 years later, my clients are now a fairly even mix of friends, family and referrals, as well as people who have found me either through social media, or in most cases, people who have come across my web site and blog through Google searches.

Want to Share Your Story?

Feel free to leave your own first client story in the comments.


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Interview with Dan Noe of Noe Design Studioshttp://designm.ag/interviews/dan-noe/ http://designm.ag/interviews/dan-noe/#comments Fri, 26 Feb 2010 22:53:14 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=18645

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I recently had the opportunity to interview multi-media designer Dan Noe. Many DesignM.ag readers have probably seen Dan's portfolio site for Noe Design Studio showcased at various design galleries or blogs. Dan works at Screenscape Studios in Des Moines, Iowa. I hope you'll find Dan's insight and experience to be helpful in your own work. Noe Design Studios

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I recently had the opportunity to interview multi-media designer Dan Noe. Many DesignM.ag readers have probably seen Dan’s portfolio site for Noe Design Studio showcased at various design galleries or blogs. Dan works at Screenscape Studios in Des Moines, Iowa. I hope you’ll find Dan’s insight and experience to be helpful in your own work.
Noe Design Studios

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you do?

I’m a graphic designer specializing in user interface design, site development and animation (flash and after effects). I graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelors degree in graphic design in 1999. I’ve worked mainly in web development, but have recently started doing video graphics and commercials. My personal portfolio website is: www.noedesign.com

Do you do freelance work in addition to your full-time employment?

Occasionally I do freelance when time permits. But my first priority is my full-time employment and my family. If I have time after that, I’ll pick up some work to pay bills and to have some money on the side to do special things for my family

Noe Design Studios

I see you have a degree in Graphic Design. How do you feel about designers and the need for a formal education?

I’ve run across some designers that are ok from a visual design standpoint. They can create things that are good from an asthetics standpoint, but you can really tell the difference when it comes to typography. Proffessionals that have a degree in graphic design typically have taken multiple courses in type and heirarchy. Without the full package of visual and type training your stock is a bit lower. You run the risk of being pigeon-holed into a certain role that you might not be as fulfilled with such as doing photo touch up or illustration.

Of the different types of design work that you do, is there anything that you enjoy the most?

I don’t really have a favorite in terms of type of work. I believe you should be versed in all aspects of design, print, web development, animation, and if possible database/dynamic programming. The more you know, the more self-sufficent and versitle you can be. Its very beneficial to yourself and the company you work for if you can be tasked with as many types of projects as possible.

Noe Design Studios

Your portfolio includes some work from local clients. Have you specifically targeted local clients, and if so, what do you do to market yourself locally?

I belong to a non-profit group in my town called “HERO” that is a community betterment program. I started out just doing marketing materials and a website to promote events we were running and to make the community aware of our presence. Through that I’ve opened many doors locally. I don’t do anything to market myself, I let my work speak for itself and word gets around and eventually people request work from me.

What is your advice for designers who are trying to decide if they should work for an agency or do full-time freelance work?

I’ve never worked full-time freelance. I’ve always wanted to. I think it’s something you should do before you start a family and have a lot of financial responsibility. I myself have 4 kids and a wife to care for and with that comes a lot of financial responsibility. I personally have never been able to give up the guaranteed paycheck/salary of a full-time job. If you can establish a good client base early on in your professional career before marriage, buying a house or having kids it would definitely be a career path I would have chosen.

Noe Design Studios

Are there any new skills that you would like to develop or areas that you have targeted for improvement in 2010?

Technology is changing so fast that you always have to be learning the next best thing. Especially in the web where new browsers and standards change so quickly. I would like to pick up more ajax knowledge. I used to do a lot of flash websites, but full flashed based websites lack good SEO and usability. I think ajax is a great way to maintain SEO and usability but keep some of the fun interactivity that flash utilizes.

What do you feel are the most important characteristics or skills that designers need to have in order to be successful?

As I said earlier, it’s advantageous to be well versed in as many disciplines as possible. It makes you more marketable to say that you can design for print, the web UI Design/development, animation and if possible database development. From a characteristic standpoint a designer should be driven, a self-teacher and never satisfied.

Dan Noe can be found through his portfolio site or on Twitter.


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Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Artshttp://designm.ag/interviews/ryan-putnam/ http://designm.ag/interviews/ryan-putnam/#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2010 22:58:11 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=16948

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Ryan Putnam is an amazingly talented designer and illustrator. Many of you are probably familiar with his popular Illustrator tutorials at Vectortuts and his own blog, Vectips. Ryan also provides services to clients through Rype Arts, and I recently had the opportunity to ask him some questions about design and business.Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

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Ryan Putnam is an amazingly talented designer and illustrator. Many of you are probably familiar with his popular Illustrator tutorials at Vectortuts and his own blog, Vectips. Ryan also provides services to clients through Rype Arts, and I recently had the opportunity to ask him some questions about design and business.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you do?

I have been drawing and doodling my whole life. When I was a kid, I loved drawing comic books, cartoons, and re-creating magazine advertisements. I continued drawing and explored fine art in high school and graduated college with a BFA in Fine Arts with a Concentration in Graphic Design from Colorado State University.

During my time in college I worked for the student newspaper laying out pages and designing ads. After college, I worked for a print shop as a designer for a short time, then worked for a smaller design agency designing and illustrating. While working at the small agency, I contributed stock illustrations to iStockphoto, did some freelance work, and started Vectips. Eventually all the extra work generated enough income to go into business for myself. Currently, I do client work under Rype Arts, still contribute to iStock, and write tutorials for Vectips, other blogs, and books.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

2. As someone who does client work, blogging and tutorial writing, what does your average day or week look like?

In a typical day, I wake up in the morning and devote about an hour or two reading through emails, reading RSS feeds, and play around on social networks. Then I get down to client works or whatever is on my to-do list. Around lunch time, I go through emails again, work-out (try to at least), and then eat lunch. In the afternoon I jump back on client work and at the end of the day I do one more round of email checks.

Throughout the week it has worked best for me to schedule certain tasks on certain days. For instance, Fridays I spend time on bookkeeping, invoices, and estimates. On Mondays I like start fresh so I go through my to-do list for the week, cleanup my workspace and computer. I also usually have a day strictly for writing tutorials and articles. This day fluctuates depending on how much client work I have.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

3. How has your exposure through sites like Vectortuts helped your business and your career?

It has helped a great deal! The guys over at Vectortuts and Envato are awesome and I really look up to them. Writing for them has landed me clients and created relationship with industry experts I would have not received if I didn’t write for them. Through the work on Vectortuts and Vectips, I have contributed lessons and art for the Adobe Illustrator CS4 WOW! Book and built relationships with others involved with Adobe Illustrator.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

4. What type of graphics tablet do you use?

I use a Wacom Intuos4 Medium and I love it! I don’t think I could back to using a mouse. I was thinking of upgrading to the Cintq, but it is expensive and I haven’t figured out how to integrate it into my work space. For me, using a good tablet like my Wacom, expands capabilities with design programs opposed to just using a mouse. With a pen tablet in Illustrator and Photoshop you have access to creating lines and strokes that are pressure sensitive. This makes it a more natural way of creating illustration and designs for me.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

5. Can you tell us a little bit about your process for taking an illustration from concept to completion?

For client work, I start by gathering all the relevant info. This can be samples, illustration requirements, and other research. I do numerous sketches and if the concept of the project is somewhat open, I send off a touched-up sketch to the client for approval. Once that is approved, I start putting together the illustration, which most of the time is in Illustrator. Depending on the illustration, I send another proof to make sure the illustration is still on track. Then I finish up the illustration with final tweaks and changes and send a final proof. Once approved, I send an invoice and the required files. For personal illustrations, the process is a little more organic. I usually take a sketch or idea and play around in Illustrator until I get something I like.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

6. What resources do you recommend for designers who want to improve their abilities in Illustrator?

If you have access to Lynda.com‘s Illustrator learning series, that is a good place to start. They take the beginner Illustrator through all the relevant steps of learning Illustrator. They have videos for many versions of Illustrator which is great if you have an older version. Some of the videos are done by Mordy Golding, who used to be the project manger of Illustrator, so it is learning from the best. I would also suggest the Real World Illustrator book series (Mordy has also written in this series). I wrote a couple basic lessons for the Adobe Illustrator CS4 WOW! Book, which is also a great place to learn tips, tricks, and best practices. All these suggestion cost money and I know that is not always an option for the designer / illustrator just starting out.

One good web resources for beginners is AiVault.com’s “Lets Get Started : A Guide to Learning illustrator“. This post lists many articles about getting started with Illustrator. Another great beginner resources is Vectordiary.com’s Learn Illustrator CS3 in 30 Days”  (which like the previous resources, go through many of the basics of working with Illustrator).

For the beginner to expert level Illustrator users, Vectips and Vectortuts are great. There are tutorials, tips, interviews, and inspiration for all Illustrator user levels.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

7. What aspects of running a design business are most challenging for you?

Probably the most challenging is all the administration work. You have to stay on top of estimates, invoices, your books, marketing, and all the other little nuances of owning a business. Sometimes it eats up a good deal of design and illustrating time. Recently, my wife has taken on a larger roll in the administration responsibilities which helps out a great deal!

Another area that is a challenge, but fun, is staying on top of current trends and technology. Almost every week there is a new web technology or technique, social network, trend, or gadget. You have to be aware what is out there and how it can contribute to you and your clients needs.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

8. What aspects of design or business would you like to improve in?

I really am working to create a consistent design process for clients. I want to streamline the estimate, contract, proofing, and invoicing process. Currently some of the stages seem too cumbersome which really drags down a project from the client’s perspective as well as mine. I really just need to find to right tools for the job and cutting out the time it takes to do certain things on the administration side.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

9. What are some of the most important lessons that you have learned about running a business?

When running a business, it is not all about just doing what you do best. In my case, I don’t just design and illustrate all day. I have to be a marketer, bookkeeper, project manager, and more. When Rype Arts gets bigger, some of these responsibilities will be passed on , but you always have to keep an eye on the business and make sure it is performing to you and your business’ standards.

I have also learned the glory and heartache of contracts. Having a contract signed before starting any project is one of the most important things. If you don’t have a contract, you run the risk of not getting paid, feature creep, and loss of control of the project. Conversely, I have signed contracts and NDAs that I wish I wouldn’t have. None of these have really been detrimental to my career, but just annoying.

Interview with Ryan Putnam of Rype Arts

10. Do you have any projects planned for 2010 that you are especially excited about?

I do have a long list of things that I want to accomplish in the near future like: exploring video podcasting, writing an Illustrator book, illustrating and writing a children’s book, practicing more fine art, and so on. Still, I haven’t really planned for any of these in 2010, but I guess I should get on it! I guess I am really trying to concentrate on building up Rype Arts with more clients and seamless design process. The nice thing about running my own business is I can make time to explore anything I want!


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