Where do you go for inspiration aside from Deviantart?DeviantART is such a huge source of creativity that it's oftentimes unnecessary to go elsewhere. I'm finding a ton of sites simply linking back to work on deviantART anyway. That said, some of the sites I visit are cpluv.com and logopond.com.How essential do you think a designer's participation in sites like Deviantart is to their career and overall development?Nobody can successfully design in a vacuum. I think a solid foundation in traditional design techniques is important, but after that a good designer looks at what everybody else is doing. Not necessarily to copy it, but to at least see what other people are making so they can say "yeah that works" or "I don't like that idea at all." It's always important for a good designer to live in a creative environment so their brain keeps thinking in a creative way. Getting stale is always a danger. Community RelationsWhat books on design do you recommend as must-reads for designers?I'll probably sound like a broken record with this, but the most important book for any designer is The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. It's very much like the bible of typography. I recommend it at every chance I get because no designer can be a real "designer" without a solid understanding of typography. You can't design without type, and if you can't use type properly you're not really a designer. It's that simple.Everyone that's familiar with your work is aware that you're a type buff. What are some mistakes in typography you often see in web design?Web typography is a difficult environment since html and css aren't inherently supportive of things like kerning. They mostly just affect universal cases instead of individual cases. For example, you can track out a whole block of copy but you can't adjust the kerning between two letterforms. Stuff like that can be frustrating, but it tends to be forgivable since nobody has any real control.Still, one of the most common mistakes I see involves words per line. Too many designers and developers build a scalable website and then forget (or don't know) that 7-12 words per line is the ideal for legibility and reading comfort. What I tend to see are lines with 20+ words and it doesn't make for an inviting reading experience. I also sometimes see people overdoing the quantity of content they try to shove into a page. Too much content + too many word per line = something nobody wants to read. Fonce Sans ProOne of the things I noticed is that you don't have a blog, something that almost every designer has. I did notice you're a regular user of your journal on deviantart.com. Why no interest in a blog? I ask because everywhere you look someone's saying, "Get a blog."Well, I actually do have a blog. It's my deviantART journal. But I assume you're talking about a blog on my primary website (liquisoft.com). The reason I don't have a blog on my site is because it's completely unnecessary there. Despite the fact that I've been bad about updating my site frequently, I realize that people only visit it to look at my work. Few people who visit that site are concerned about my weekend activities, and I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that enough people will visit who give a damn.The journal on deviantART, though, is a different story. Since deviantART is a community, I have thousands of people who actually do watch my journals and my uploads, and they've elected to get informed of my updates. It's a whole different ball game, on deviantART, and it's the perfect environment for those ramblings that perhaps don't always belong on a "professional" blog.Sites like crowdspring.com encourage designers to do creative work with little specification, giving contest holders hundreds of choices and no obligation to award a winner. What's your opinion on this topic?Sites like that are both encouraging and disappointing at the same time. It's awesome that there are a number of sites built to focus attention on design, but then again they basically exist to devalue the practice of design. I think it's acceptable when an organization holds a design contest from time to time, but building a whole site dedicated to the idea is offensive to designers around the world.We also have to be aware, though, that the people who willingly participate in those are usually not professionals. A professional designer would never devalue his work to that point. It's the amateurs and designer-hopefuls who participate, because they think that getting work as a designer is the end goal and never consider respect or the value of their talents.The good clients never bother with those sites, either. A good client will recognize the value of good design, and will seek out a professional. This doesn't mean they'll pay top dollar, necessarily, but they will typically understand that all professional services have a professional cost associated with them, and they almost always bring a huge amount of respect to the table too. American Village BuilderWas there ever a time when you thought that maybe this isn't the career for you? If so, what changed your mind?The only time I ever thought that design wasn't for me was when I didn't know what it was...when I was a teenager. When you're young and you don't have any designers around you in your day-to-day life or family, you can start to believe that it isn't a good career choice. Like "there aren't any designers around here, so maybe there's no money in it or no opportunities." Eventually that wears off, and the internet has certainly helped. Nowadays everybody thinks they're a designer or wants to be one. It's crazy.Thousands of designers are coming out from design institutions every year making this industry one of the most competitive. What three adjectives would you use to describe designers who manage to stick out from the rest, and how does one achieve these qualities?The three adjectives I'd use are: responsible, persistent, talented. Responsibility is a big deal in design. There are deadlines and there are best practices. Sometimes you can get lazy, like anybody does, but overall you've got to know what you're working on and have an end goal to work towards. Persistence is also part of this...it's important to be in a project for the long-term and focus on the reward of completion. I see a lot of designers wanting to complete a project immediately so they can have the satisfaction of finishing, rather than spending their time ensuring high quality and craftsmanship.Craftsmanship is also a part of persistence, and I'd have listed the word separately had I been allowed to use four instead of three. As for talent, that's a given, but let's not confuse talent and skill. Skill is important, of course, but skill can be learned. Talent is just a part of you from day one, and you can't learn how to be talented. The best designers I know simply design great things almost without having to think about it. It just flows naturally, almost like breathing. Desert Practice Conference MailerAny advice for the budding designer you'd like to share?I'm usually not too good with advice, but if I had to share one thing I'd tell the "budding designer" to focus on a solid education in their craft and not get too caught up with trendiness. Focus on messaging and substance instead of just the cool factor. Explore Anywhere Sony Proposal BookletInterview Questions by: Damian Madray Edited by: Khadija Benn
Nobody can successfully design in a vacuum.