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7 Questions, 7 Designers – Day 1

posted by Matt Ward on Dec 18, 2009.

This is the first in a seven part interview series in which I put a number of design related questions to seven awesome designers including: Chris Spooner, Sneh Roy, Mike Smith, Jeff Finley, Brad Colbow, Grace Smith and Nick La. Come join the discussion!

Hey guys! This is the beginning of a seven day series that I am doing called “7 Questions, 7 Designers,” in which I throw out a different question each day and compile the answers from seven different designers. There are participants from all over the world, each offering a different and unique perspective on the realm of design.

I am so excited to have had the chance to connect with and learn a bit more about some of the leaders in the design community, and some people that I really admire and respect! I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Alright guys, without any further ado, let’s kicking things off with the basics. Why don’t you all tell us something about yourselves – where are you located, what areas of design do you focus on or specialize in.

Chris Spooner
Chris Spooner
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I’m Chris Spooner, I’m based in Sheffield, UK. I have a strong interest in quite a few areas of design, from print to web to various areas of illustration. Whenever I see something I’m inspired by I’ll often experiment and create some artwork in a similar vein, for instance I’ve recently been watching a couple of episodes of Miami Ink on TV, which has given me the incentive to brush up on my illustration skills and aim at creating a tattoo inspired design.

Sneh Roy
Sneh Roy
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I am Sneh Roy. I am a web-designer, content manager and brand creator from Sydney, Australia. I am 32 years old, have been married to my college sweetheart, business partner and best friend of 14 years. I am also a mum to two little boys aged 6 and 2 who are absolute rascals and keep things interesting. I am a visually creative person. Designing logos, designing and developing websites and databases, creating and illustrating characters, weaving beautiful stories and developing original content is what I do best. Although I dabble in a lot of things like illustrations and photography, my forte lies in logo and web design and blogging.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
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My name is Mike Smith and I am a full time freelance designer from Knoxville Tennessee. I am a country boy at heart and love watching (and soon, competing) Mixed Martial Arts fights. I also have a huge obsession with my blackberry and it never leaves my side.

For the past 3 years I have been focused on building wordpress blogs for clients. I have been told that I have a “scrapbook” style to my designs, which can be true in most cases. I also love the clean and sleek look of apple products and the accompaning websites. I have recently dove into learning jQuery and some php in order to give my custom themes a bit more ‘pop’.

Jeff Finley
Jeff Finley
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My name is Jeff Finley, I’m 27, and I’m part owner of Go Media, a creative agency headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. I’m an entrepreneur that specialize in illustration, graphic design, and 3D. I also enjoy networking, marketing, and social media, and running a business in general.

Brad Colbow
Brad Colbow
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I live in the beautiful city of Cleveland Ohio (no really, it’s a great place to live). I call myself a freelance web designer but I’m probably better know for my illustrations and weekly comic strip The Brads (bradcolbow.com).

Grace Smith
Grace Smith
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Sure, I am a 26 year old web designer and owner of a small but perfectly formed studio called Postscript5 based in Northern Ireland. I work with individuals and companies based mainly in the UK and USA on a diverse range of projects from branding and blog design to application UI’s.

I tend to specialise in two fields, Application UI design and WordPress Blog Design, these make up the majority of my projects.

Nick La
Nick La
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My name is Nick La, a freelance illustrator and web designer from Toronto, Canada. I’m the creator of N.Design Studio, Web Designer Wall, Design Jobs on the Wall, Best Web Gallery, and IconDock. I focus on designing artistic CSS websites, vector illustrations, and stock icons.

Digging a little deeper, what does design mean to you? Professionally? Personally? How did you get into the game?

Chris Spooner
Chris Spooner
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I’ve always been an artsy type person right from a young age. So I naturally pursued the creative topics in School, College and University. I ended up landing my first full time job as a designer at a local studio, then headed out on my own as a self-employed designer. Design is pretty much my life! I’m forever checking out and analysing billboards, TV ads, leaflets – Everything!

Sneh Roy
Sneh Roy
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For me, design is a way of life. It impacts every aspect of my being. The sketching of a logo or the wireframing of a website extends into the real world where besides the work I do in the digital medium, I am landscaping yards, sketching out diagrams for the carpenter to build into furniture, designing a themed cupcake display for a wedding and individually decorating 40 odd cupcakes, each one unique. Design is very personal for me. I cannot imagine a day without being design, a moment that is not creatively inclined in my day. I just take all that personal passion and make a profession out of it. Which means I absolutely love what I do, because for me it is not work, it is play!

Oddly enough, I have absolutely no training in design. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering and Robotics was the only subject in my final year that was remotely associated with design. Even then it was all theory and we barely got to build a robotic arm for our grades. I got introduced to HTML back in 1996 I think. I was dazzled by the scrolling text effect, Comic Sans and the blinking of photographs and graphics that was loosely labeled as animated gifs back in the day. Ah the power that was at my fingertips! Nick [hubby] and I had just met at college and we were both huge soccer fans and with the world cup fever on, we built a soccer website [no, I am not showing that hideous creation even if you beg me to]. We actually landed our first project for Bayer [the pharmaceutical giant] based on that soccer website and we totally winged it. I had so much fun building their website. We then went ahead and built Starswelove.com [which is relaunching early next year on its 10th anniversary]. That site has been a constant learning curve for us. 2 years later I graduated, but I was already freelancing full time, developing websites for small businesses. And that is how it all began for me.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
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Professionally, it means supporting myself and my girlfriend (10+ years together). Without freelance design, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I have my struggles and problems, but designing for a living gives me a way to live without additional stresses. Personally, I have been drawing since I was really, really young so I guess it’s always been a part of my life. To this very day I still sketch a lot because it helps relax me and drown out the stress around me.

Jeff Finley
Jeff Finley
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To me, design means making a difference. Making something that is remembered and stands for something. I’ve been an artist my whole life, and it wasn’t until after college I actually started getting into “design.” The artist in me strives to create art whatever medium I can muster, whether it’s illustration, film, or music. It’s a form of self expression and an emotional release. My goal is to create something that someone else might relate to and enjoy. The designer in me loves to craft a user experience with a predetermined end goal and then tinkering it to get desired results.

I went to college to become an animator and make video games and movies. By the time I graduated in 2004 I wasn’t thrilled with my career options and started freelancing. I made t-shirts and websites for bands, record labels, and clothing companies. I’ve kind of always had this desire to do something different, more profound. I ran into Bill and Chris, the two gentleman who founded Go Media and we had a lot in common in that regard. We decided to join forces and start a movement together.

Brad Colbow
Brad Colbow
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I kinda fell backwards into design. In school I majored in advertising but took a couple design classes. I studied advertising in school and I landed a marketing internship at a roofing company. I started by writing copy and sticking it into Quark Express templates. Since I knew a little Photoshop I was making the documents look better in the process. By the end of the summer I was designing more and writing less. I never looked back and have been a designer ever since.

I wish I had some deep philosophical definition of what design means to me, but I don’t. It’s just a heck of a lot more fun and interesting than anything else I could do for a living. I really enjoy the problem solving part of design and web design in particular.

Grace Smith
Grace Smith
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A passion for design and art is a huge part of who I am. I was an avid artist throughout my childhood and right through school. Being a designer is just very natural and suits my sensibilities and passions. I can’t really think of being anything else!

Personally I feel design can best be described as ‘art within constraints’, it is focused on purpose, solving problems and functionality. Great design grows out of a real understanding of the problem and informed thinking of this accomplishes the goal(s) set out at the beginning of the project. Over the years I’ve formed the opinion that the foundation of design is communication, not the desire to make pretty things!

Nick La
Nick La
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Professionally: design is about putting things together to make something beautiful and functional. Personally, it is my life (I can’t live without it). I got into design because of my high school art teacher. He introduced Photoshop to me and fell in love with it ever since.

Thanks guys! That’s it for Day 1, everyone. What are your reactions to our designers’ comments? Learn anything that you may not have known before? Be sure to check back over the next six days for more awesome insights from these seven great minds!

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Also from Echo Enduring Media:

An Unfolding Tale

About the Author

Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker of Echo Enduring Media, and specializes in graphics design, illustration and writing. He is also the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a creative direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario. You can follow Matt on Twitter

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Comments

Dec 18, 2009

Azterik Media says:

Fantastic idea for a blog series! Looking forward to the next 6 installements. Thanks for bringing the great web designers together for some Q&A.

Dec 18, 2009

Sneh Roy says:

Awesome! So cool to read what other designers feel about a certain point of view :). Thanks for including me in your series Matt!

Dec 18, 2009

Matt Ward says:

No problem Sneh! Thanks for participating. And we’re just getting started. There’s all sorts of great perspectives still to come over the next 6 days!

Dec 18, 2009

Mike says:

This shoud be a good series! I found it funny that Chris Spooner watched Miami Ink and got inspired by the tattoo art style. When I see that show i feel the exact same way!

Dec 18, 2009

Matt Ward says:

Yeah Mike, I think this will be a really great series!

Dec 18, 2009

SueMatt says:

hey, good post and i also like your page layout too. Bookmarked your site and will stop by again

Dec 19, 2009

Waheed Akhtar says:

Nice informative post.

Dec 19, 2009

Paulo says:

Hi Matt, thanks for putting this excellent article together. I’ve been in the business over 20 years and the great thing about working in the creative design world is that I am always learning, picking up new skills and inspiration daily. It’s so exciting to be involved in a continually evolving community like this. Looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

Dec 19, 2009

Carlin says:

This is awesome! Thanks for bringing these guys together so us aspiring designers can learn a thing or two! I can’t wait for more!

Dec 21, 2009

Danny Hinde says:

Great article! All really good designers too!

Mar 27, 2010

Darby Sette says:

I just found your site through google. Love the info!

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