Interview with a Designer: Tyler Galpin
Today I have for you an interview with Tyler Galpin, another young and talented designer who is pretty well known in the design community.
This Interview will be a bit different than the previous one, for this interview you can listen to the conversation I had with Tyler. Below the audio player you’ll see the written answers to most of the questions. Enjoy!
You can listen to the interview via the audio player below. Just give it a bit of time to buffer and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Below you will find the written summary of the interview. To get the full effect of the interview and Tyler’s experiences, I recommend you to also listen to the interview audio above.
I’m an almost 22 years old web and UI designer from Toronto. I’m moving to New York or San Francisco soon. I have been designing professionally for almost 3 years now, unprofessionally about 7 years, just as a hobby.
How did you get into design? Any elaborate story? (Twitter question from @nicolefdesigns)
At our school we were required to have a laptop, and as a kid you really want yours to stand out and we would go on sites like Deviantart and try and find awesome wallpapers to style our computers. I wanted to learn and make some wallpapers for myself, thats how I really got started with design. My first website I had to make for a media arts class in grade eleven at the age of 15 or 16, and we had to build in in Frontpage. I’ll have to see if I can find it again, but I would never put that in my portfolio right now.
The first serious project I got was about three years ago, I did some freelance work for people I knew when still going to university. I was doing websites pro-bono for conferences and charities etc. to get my name out there and up my skills a little bit. I was designing and also building the websites in WordPress, which I don’t do anymore.
You seem to be a jack of all trades, you design websites, logo’s and lately even amazing t-shirts and typefaces! Did you intentionally choose not to specialize yourself in one field or did it just happen?
Yeah it was just random chance, the projects just started coming up. Also, I was getting a bit bored always staring at the website project I was doing. So I wanted to dabble in different fields, t-shirt, logo’s, mobile interfaces. The whole typeface thing was very recent. My first real typeface was Highlands, where I really sat down and originally created a typeface. I would still not consider myself a typographer but it’s really nice to practice. Even if just one person appreciate my work or typeface, that’s enough for me. I’m not looking to compete with other big typographers.
Where do you get your inspiration and motivation? Is there something that really helps you design better?
I wish I could say that there was, but honestly I just try to expose myself to as many different things as possible. Wether that is looking at architecture, or going on walks and not think about things for a while and take in the nature. Of course I also look at other webdesigns and go on Dribbble, but a lot of is just trying not to actively think about design all the time and then you will soak in everything naturally and you’ll end up with fresh ideas.
For every single project I’ll create a moodboard for myself and gather everything from the web in a single browser with like 30 or 40 tabs with a lot of different sites elements and styles.
When you are working on a project, do you get easily distracted? How do you deal with that?
Yeah I procrastinate a lot and it takes a lot for me to get focused and get back on track. The best way for me to get back on track is to accept that you will procrastinate and put things off and deal with that before the project. I also like to work in the very last hours before a deadline, the pressure just brings out the ideas I need.
I also listen to a lot of music, during working I mostly try to listen to music without any vocals, and usually shut down my IM so I don’t get distracted, and sometimes I shut down Twitter, but I really love Twitter so most of the time I can’t.
Another twitter question, by @Jeijisan: How do you choose the correct typeface to match your logo’s or designs?
I mostly look at other websites a lot where I see the typefaces work with the designs and then learn from that. A big part of it is just teaching yourself and understanding typefaces, and what sort of feelings and emotions they evoke. And then when a client want a professional website, I’ll know what kind of typeface I’m looking for, for example a serif, and then just look at my Font Book and look at only serif fonts. I takes quite some time, mostly about an hour per project. [Tip: Listen to the audio for a lot more type talk!]
Make sure to check out the Lost Type Co-op by Tyler Galpin and Riley Cran. It’s a very designer-centric with a select number of typefaces, on a pay-what-you-want model.
How many clients did you have before you made the leap to fulltime freelancing?
It wasn’t really a specific number of clients, it was more knowing that you’ll have a regular stream of projects. You should try to think ahead before going fulltime freelancing. I like to book my about 2 months in advance, I like to not be tied down too much so I have the option to do something else after that, for example if I feel like suddenly going to travel the world. It’s also useful to have a backup plan in case you have no projects coming in, like personal projects, creating and selling themes, or an app you’re working on.
What do you think about the current state of the design community in comparison with the past, and what do you think will become of it in the future?
I’ve told this to many people who have come to me for advice on how to get started in web design and design in general, and every single time I tell them: There is nog better time to be a designer than right now. The community is so open right now, there are a lot of startups right now looking for design work. It’s a great time to be a designer right now, because you can do pretty much anything you want on the web. If you work hard enough you could be the best web designer in your area. As long as you have a design eye and you know what looks like crap and what doesn’t, and you work really hard, that’s the pretty much the only formula you need to be successful.
Do you have any tips for our readers and listeners on design or freelancing?
Always see yourself as the underdog, there’s always somebody better than you, and if you sit on yuour butt for even 2 seconds you’re gonna be playing catchup. So always drive yourself forward and never be content with where you are, always keep pushing forward, especially in your artistic abilities, always try new styles.
Also karma is very important. That kid who’s asking you for your advice now, might be the biggest thing in design to hit the community in 5 years. So respond to that kid, treat him or her with respect, and if you don’t have time, just let them know. If you’re nice to people and put in the time and be kind, it will come back to you.
Very good advice. Could you tell a bit about your process when designing?
For me, sketching is a big part of what I do. I could start in Photoshop, but it’s very different if you’re not constrained by Photoshop tools. With sketching, you come up with a lot of ideas in a lot less time. Another thing I like to do is do a big word brainstorm, I go through all the client e-mails, I pick out keywords about styles etc. and just write them down. And then I just take those sketches and words and try to translate them into a design. If you start out correctly and you just let you mind go and take your time with it, without trying to force anything, you pretty much can’t go wrong.
So, do you have any favorite designers? People who inspire you?
One of them would be one of my good friends, Jay Schaul, he has to be one of my favorite designers right now. Another one would be Tim Boelaars, the previous interviewee, he’s got some really awesome work. His motorcycle illustration is probably my favorite. And also Brandon Oxendine, he’s doing awesome stuff right now, he’s got some really cool hand drawn stuff. You should definitely check those guys out!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk Tyler, and I’m sure everyone can learn something by reading or listening to this interview. Very enlightening!
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