Are you a freelancer?
No, but I always keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities. For example, I am currently working with a new startup company that’s about to launch, helping them design a new theme. Check them out at Tasty Nectar.
What are your best methods for finding/attracting clients?
First and foremost; Consistent, personal branding is of utmost importance when you are looking for new clients.
Even though I’m not a full-time freelancer I still think local meetup groups and other social functions (such as Refresh) are great ways to meet potential clients. But don’t worry, if you don’t have any social functions available in your neck of the woods or transportation is an issue, you don’t have to look very far from your front door. I’ve found just simply meeting your neighbors is a great way to make connections. Perfect example, this past summer while hanging out at our community pool, soaking up the sun and drinking some beer, I got to know one of my neighbors pretty well. My wife and I were even invited to have dinner with him and his wife. And now I am going to be heading up his companies new website.
How did you get started in your field? Did you study something in particular or are you self-taught?
Working in the field of web design was more of an accident than a choice. I always thought of myself becoming an architect or an artist. But after a friend of mine started to nudge me in the direction of the web I picked up a few books and started to learn. The first website I ever made used inline styles and didn’t even declare a doc type. Thankfully I ran across a teacher who valued the importance of CSS, and thus my life was changed. She introduced me to people like Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman, whose books and website are a great resource for any web designer. Now after a years work behind me doing web design and development full-time I feel like there’s nothing I can’t learn but so much I have yet to learn at the same time.
In the way of graphic design, I think this was always more of a natural process. I have always looked at brands and marketing material from a perspective of how I could improve them. To me, graphic design isn’t just a career; it is woven in to our everyday lives.
Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?
I don’t think it’s so much a question of what made me become a designer so much as it is why did I wait so long. Like I said before, I always imagined myself becoming an architect. My elaborate house plans were often the cure to boring classroom lectures. And I also loved to draw, mainly my name, and always in some oversized typography. That eventually led me to appreciate graffiti art. Well that and skateboarding, which provided a lot of my early creative influences. Companies like Alien Workshop and Girl Skateboards where ahead of the curve when it came to design. In 2000 I made the decision to focus solely on graphic design. Over the next seven years I learned a lot about who I was, not only as a designer but also as a Christian, and asked myself over and over what it was I wanted to say with my designs.
What do you feel are the most important skills for a designer to have/develop?
I would say having a fundamental foundation of design principles and practices is a must. If you don’t know the rules then how can you know when to break them? Lastly, the ability to edit your work is essential to becoming not just good, but great.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
As I spend most of my time during the day in front of a computer there are a number of websites I visit for inspiration.
When I’m not online I usually like to visit a used bookstore or get outside and enjoy some fresh air to clear my head. But one of the best, most obscure, places I find inspiration is the bathroom.
How do you typically start a new project?
Doing research to find out what the client’s likes and dislikes are. From their a mockup is created. And for the web, I’m trying to get away from static photoshop mockups and move straight to usable html. That way the client can see it in it’s proper environment and decide if they like the way it functions.
Do you have any favorite websites for interacting with others in the design community?
What does your typical day look like?
Wake up around 7, eat breakfast, drink a cup of hot tea, get dressed, spend the next 8 hours at work editing code, creating graphics and getting mad at Microsoft all while twittering, once home I feed the dogs, and the rest of the evening is a mixture of reading blogs, watching tv, updating my site and experimenting in photoshop. Pretty typical.
What are your 5 favorite sites online?
This is a tough question. It’s like asking a fat kid what his five favorite flavors of ice cream are. So here’s my current list of five faves in no particular order.
1. Fuel Your Creativity – great articles and resources
2. CSS-Tricks – invaluable collection of video tutorials and good resources
3. Signal Noise – amazing designs from the original James White
4. Nectar – launching Monday, November 3
5. 9 Rules – a collection of some of the best, and just so-so, content around the web
Who, in the online world, would you say has had the biggest influence on you?
This might sound strange, but I’m going to have to go with Tom, from Myspace. He was my first friend online, and he’ll probably be the last person alive, online at least. But without myspace I wouldn’t have met my wife.
What are the tools you couldn’t live without?
I think without the simple tools of pen and paper I wouldn’t be where I am today.