Designer In The Spotlight (DITS) is a weekly feature that I run 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.
I’m Chris Spooner, a graphic and website designer from Sheffield, UK. Throughout education I always went down the creative route choosing art and design related subjects in secondary school. This was then continued onto university where I achieved my degree in Art & Design. After gaining employment at two local design studios I recently made the decision to head out into the world of freelancing where I now offer my personal services in design for print and website design.
2. How long have you been designing and what made you become an artist / designer?
I’ve always taken an interest in drawing and creating things, so heading towards a career in something I enjoyed was natural. It wasn’t until I got into my later education at university that I decided I’d like to concentrate on web design in particular.
3. Where do you work and what is your daily routine?
I work from home in my small studio setup comprising of computer, corner desk, radio, printer, scanner and lots of mess.
I wake up in the morning at 7:45, have breakfast then head off for a short walk to wake myself up with the crisp morning air. Meanwhile my computer wakes up and makes a backup of its files.
I’ll then check emails, Twitter and the stats of my websites then start work on client projects. After lunch I’ll check emails and Twitter again then either open up the feed reader or get straight back to work.
4. How did you market yourself in the beginning of your design career and how has that differed to how you market yourself now?
I’ve always relied on my website for marketing myself, it’s a great resource to refer people to examples of my work. I suppose one difference has been now I try to market myself as Chris Spooner as well as the brand name of SpoonGraphics which I feel helps people associate with the person behind the work.
5. What are your tools of the trade? This could include hardware, software and traditional tools.
Although I’m quite a Mac fan I actually use a PC on a daily basis, apart from the cost difference and vast range of technology available for them the main reason is I simply work a little quicker on windows.
Software wise the Adobe Creative Suite gives me all the major tools I need, with most of my time being spent in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.
I’ve very recently treated myself to a graphics tablet which I’m loving so far!
6. How do you manage the business side of design such as accounting, invoicing and bookkeeping?
I use a mixture of digital and paper-based records to keep track of estimations, incoming, outgoings and project statuses. At the moment I tend to create my invoices manually in PDF format but I might give some experimentation into online apps such as FreshBooks to see if it streamlines the process at all.
7. Where do you get your inspiration and how do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
I enjoy reading up on fellow designer’s blogs and keeping up to date with my feed collection. If I’m short on inspiration a quick check on CSS galleries or inspirational roundups on design blogs brings plenty of ideas flowing back.
8. Can you please guide us through a typical project from start to finish.
Beginning with an enquiry I’ll supply what information I can, and also ask questions on the client’s plans in order to gain the best understanding of what is required. This information is then summarised into an estimation of cost, on most projects an initial deposit is collected. I’ll then sketch out ideas and notes and produce initial drafts for the client to review, these are then developed into the final creation and supplied as appropriate.
9. What are your top 3 websites / books and why?
10. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?
Strive to keep yourself updated with changes in the industry, this particularly relates to web design which seems to move at a pretty fast pace!
Jacob: Thank you Chris for taking the time to fill out this interview: If you want to be featured as the next Designer In The Spotlight, please fill out this form.