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.
Hello, I live in Ireland and I divide my time between teaching a design course and running a small web and graphic design business called Laughing Lion Design. I have a degree in I.T. and Physics and a Masters in Design.
The course I teach now is called Digital Design and I teach Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Dreamweaver. In terms of design work, I do a lot of wordpress based websites and blogs, graphic design, 2D artwork and I’m starting to get into illustration.
2. How long have you been designing and what made you become an artist / designer?
I have been working in the design industry for about 8 years. I started in web design by working on the intranet site for a company I was doing I.T. work for. I hated I.T. but had always been good/interested in design and photography which was a major hobby. At this point I had already been using Photoshop version 4 which a friend had given me for, ahem, evaluation purposes and once I discovered you could get paid to use these kind of design tools, a whole new world opened up.
After a couple of years in a few different design companies, literally starting at the very bottom, (including one year in Perth, Australia) I went back to Uni to do a masters degree in digital design. Laughing Lion Design was officially set up as a company in October 06.
3. Where do you work and what is your daily routine?
When I’m teaching I’m in Dublin in the classroom and when I’m doing design work for Laughing Lion Design, I have a little wooden cabin beside our house as an office
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 suppose the major piece of marketing I did was to put a website together so that I could showcase some work. Apart from that it was really word of mouth – telling everyone I knew what I was doing.
I started blogging about 3 years ago too and I think that has brought a lot of interest (if not business) my way. Word of mouth is still the main way I get business.
5. What are your tools of the trade? This could include hardware, software and traditional tools.
PC, Scanner, Wacom Tablet, Adobe Creative Suite, Corel Painter. Pencil, Pen & Foolscap paper. Notebook for ideas.
6. How do you manage the business side of design such as accounting, invoicing and bookkeeping?
I absolutely hate this end of the business and I can say that I have definitely lost money along the way by not “taking care of business”.
I have an accountant now and that relieves a large amount of stress.
7. Where do you get your inspiration and how do you keep up to date with what is happening in the industry?
I get inspiration from the web, books, magazines, brochures, cinema, ads on tv, bus shelters, flyers, posters, album covers, music.
8. Can you please guide us through a typical project from start to finish.
At the moment I am designing a blog for a client who already has a website so I firstly went to meet him. Had a chat about his audience, the aims of the blog and so on. Then I gave him a short questionnaire to fill out about his likes, dislikes, who his competitors are.
I do a couple of really rough sketches, then fire up Photoshop and do a design. I send the mock up to the client, make any changes required and then convert it into something wordpress can interact with!
9. What are your top 3 websites / books and why?
The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
The Photoshop Channels Book by Scott Kelby (I love all of Scott Kelby’s books – he’s a great teacher.)
New Vintage Type: Classic Fonts for the Digital Age by Steven Heller, Gail Anderson
10. What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?
Use a contract and get at least 25% upfront when doing design work.
Jacob: Thank you Jennifer 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.