Designer In The Spotlight (DITS) is a new weekly feature that I will be running every Sunday (or more) to help particular individuals in the design community get their name ‘out there’ and to educate the community as a whole. It is a series of questions that asks the designer about themselves and their job as a designer. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming DITS post fill out the form here.
1. Please tell us more about yourself, your background, education and what you do as a designer.
My name is Brian Yerkes and I am a born and raised Irishman living in sunny Florida. Moved to the States after college to pursue the “American Dream”, started as a freelancer on my own, and soon found myself to be the owner of a leading creative design and development studio in Southwest Florida after a lot of sleepless nights and hard work.
I have a degree in Sports Marketing from University College Dublin. I am self taught in all areas of design and coding, and my range of knowledge spans from print design, to branding, to css, php and asp coding.
2. How long have you been designing and what made you become an artist / designer?
Started playing with Paint when I received my first computer back in the day (no idea when this was…possibly in 1995). I always sketched / drew and this was probably my best skill as a kid growing up. Soon, I started to design logos and websites for friends and family, as I got comfortable with products like Adobe Elements and Photoshop.
I have been a professional designer for about 6 years, starting off in Ireland and now with my company in the States.
3. How did you market yourself in the beginning of your design career and how has that differed to how you market yourself now?
I think I have always marketed myself in the same way as I do now… and likewise for anything I do; I present myself with confidence and know that I will provide someone with a lot of hard work and creativity to help them succeed. Even when I was far less experienced than I am now, I still spoke to potential clients with the same confidence as I do today. Image is vital in business. It can build trust and confidence.
4. What are your tools of the trade? This could include hardware, software and traditional tools.
Adobe Products, PC’s and Laptops, Internet, Online Friends, PC’s and Laptops, Creativity, Integrity and Passion.
5. Where do you work and what is your daily routine?
I work in Southwest Florida, and my daily routine can change 100% each day. One day I could be at 3 meetings and in the car most of the day, the next day I could be sketching logos, coding some CSS and playing Tiger Woods Golf 09 on the PS3.
6. How do you manage the business side of design such as accounting, invoicing and bookkeeping?
I hired an account manager named Sarah, who does it all for me. She worries about the invoices, receiving payments and all that jazz. She updates the project management system to let me know when a project is ready to commence, what ones are on hold, and the ones that are ready for release / launch.
I use Quickbooks and spreadsheets for my own personal bookkeeping.
7. Where do you get your inspiration and how do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
One of the best ways (and I wish I had gotten involved in it sooner) is through blogging and building online relationships with fellow designers and programmers. I found David Airey’s blog one day, and that got me hooked on the idea of blogging and social networking. Since then, I have found this tremendously powerful and helpful. It keeps you at the top of your game, and you learn so much from others more experienced and also less experienced than yourself.
I have since hired several people that I have met online through my blog, BrianYerkes.com, to help me with various projects, and to build a wider, more international team of freelancers for my company.
I can’t even explain in words how powerful social networking is for a designer.
8. Can you please guide us through a typical project from start to finish.
Let’s say the lead comes in from our website, Brian Joseph Studios, we respond by phone or email (depending on what option they chose in their form submission) . This email thanks them and asks them a few questions about their needs… do they have a current site/logo etc. This email also introduces our company a little more, and tries to build that instant relationship. They are given one person to speak with that will be their project manager throughout the entire project.
The potential client responds with some answers, and we determine whether or not we want to take on the project or not. We have an interview process that we put the client through, and many fail at this step. I think it is extremely important to take on clients that are similar in their professionalism as you and your company.
It can even be down to small things… like if they don’t start an email addressing a name with something like “Hi John…” or anything like that. Small things like that can say a lot about the type of client they will be if you take them on.
So, we begin the sales process. If the client is local or somewhat close to our area, we will arrange a meeting in person with them. This gives us the chance to really build a relationship on a personal level, beyond emails and phone calls.
We get to know the client, their business and their needs in detail. We listen to them and we provide solutions. After the meeting, we draw up a proposal outlining the solution for their project.
If they like it, we send the contract along and ask them to fax it back. We then invoice 50% of the project total and begin the project once that 50% is received.
Once the project starts, we keep in regular contact with the client, and ensure that they are involved in the design and development process throughout. We ask for feedback at all stages of the development and once they are happy with the final design we invoice the final 50% before we send final production files.
The client pays the final 50%, they receive the final files, (we upload the files to our server if it is a website project) and they are ready to roll with their brand new logo or website!
After they are finished with the project, we still keep in touch with them regularly to keep that relationship with them and to help them with any needs in the future. This way we build up a strong and loyal client base, and we do not have to take on a huge amount of new clients to pay the bills and project costs.
If you work with 5 loyal, professional clients that have their stuff together, and understand the importance of your services, those 5 clients will always be more profitable than taking on 20 new clients of all different types. Editor’s note: Ever heard of the Pareto Principle (80 / 20) rule?
9. What are your top 3 websites / books and why?
1. Google.com (where would we be without it?! Yahoo.com I guess!)
2. WordPress.org (if it wasn’t for WordPress, I would have to pay programmers to do a lot more work!)
3. The Story of Art by E.H Gombrich, sits on my coffee table and will always be a book to learn from.
10. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?
I was recently interviewed by a college design student and was asked this exact question and I actually posted an article answering this question.
My answer was “Never stop adding to your skill set, and always make sure that when you look back over your previous year, you have come a long way baby!” 🙂
Thank you Brian for taking the time to fill out this interview especially for going into so much detail in your process.
If you want to be featured as the next Designer In The Spotlight, fill out this form.