Good money in design?

Good money? Good question, and one that I received recently from a friend who wanted to know whether there was good money in design. The conversation went like the below;

Is there good money in design as I’m fed up wtih my job and want a change?

I replied;

I didn’t think you were in to design?

Which they replied;

Well I dabble a bit so thought it would be good if the money was in it.

This really struck a nerve. Not in a bad way, Drew and I get on really well, and I know his current job situation but more because there is obviously a perception that you can jump in to a career in design on a whim because you may ‘dabble’ in design.

Let’s get over using the word design for a moment and concentrate on the creative industry on a whole. Creativity isn’t something you can dabble in, either you’ve got it or you don’t. Granted you can be creative in different ways but I firmly believe it’s certainly something that is ingrained in your blood from the first time you threw paint at an easel with paint brush to the time you sent your last design to a client for approval. Creativity is there from when you are born and throughout your entire life. You will hone your skills to make sure you can produce the design you’ve been wanting to create.

Is it about the money?

Everyone has to pay their way and everyone has to live. Unfortunately for the world, designers and creatives cannot be paid with boxes of chocolates and jammie dodgers no matter how often we are sent them. We do need money, but is money the only thing we want? Me personally, I’d like to be paid for my time. We don’t learn our skills over night and it can take years and years to get to where we are now and we should be paid accordingly. With any job in the world there are levels to how much we get paid depending on our skill sets and ‘time served’ in a career.

Do we design for money? Do we design to see our clients smile? Do we design to see the users using our design smile? Do we design to stroke our own egos? It would be interesting to see a ratio of how many designers design because they live it rather than it being just for the money. Our jobs aren’t like working in a retail industry where you go to work in shifts, do your hours and go home. We designers can end up working silly hours just because we enjoy what we’re doing.

It’s hard putting an ‘amount’ on it

It’s hard working out how much to charge for something you love doing but it has to be done. We can’t work for nothing and I’d like to think that we do not design just for the money. Yes you can make a good living from design, but it takes a huge amount of effort and a massive amount of creative skill to get to where you are comfortable financially.

I’d also hope that some people do not join the creative industry just for the money, especially when they’re not creative in the first place. Love what you do, do it because you would do it anyway and get paid for the privilege.

22 Web People In Ten Years

in-ten-yearsTen years, it’s a long time. Aspirations of what you’ll be doing in ten years could be absolutely anything. I personally look to the things which I’d like to have achieved in ten years time and a few of these are; authoring a book, speaking more frequently and having multiple businesses. In ten years time I’ll be 36 and while I think it is a long way off there will be one day when I think it has gone way too fast, so by the time I am forty I want to achieve as much as I can. I wanted to know about other 10 year plans and  asked some awesome people from the web community about what thoughts they had for the future.

Ashley_Baxter

Ashley Baxter – www.iamashley.co.uk

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time, what would you like to achieve?

I consider myself to be an ambitious person, which makes answering this all the more difficult. In 10 years I’ll be 32, and I see myself having taken my current business to new heights, as well as having started up another business more in line with my personality. But variety truly is the spice of life, and I’d like to dabble in many things alongside that. In the future I’d love to get involved with presenting in a video game niche, as well as keep myself busy with various web projects as I continue to learn Ruby. Basically, I see myself doing quite a few things. Life will never be boring.

On a personal note, I definitely see myself happily settled with Daniel Craig and our beautiful babies, which we very much enjoyed making. Ahem.

tim-van-dammeTim Van Damme – www.maxvoltar.com

That’s a question to which I don’t want to know the answer. What I love so much about this business is you don’t know what you’ll be doing next.

Also: I’m not much of a 10-year plan guy. I don’t plan, I wait and see. If there’s one thing I want to do some day, it must be teaching. Teaching people the right way to make a website is very satisfying, and I’d love to teach the next generation everything I was lucky enough to learn myself.

aaronirizarryAaron Irizarry – www.thisisaaronslife.com

In ten years time I would want to be doing what I love on my own terms. I love talking, and writing about design, the design process, and the practical aspects of working in the design industry, so it would be awesome to be speaking on these topics and or contributing to books on them. To sum it “doing what I love on my own terms, and spending more time with the people I love (family, and friends).

john-chowJohn Chow – www.johnchow.com

I really have no idea where I’ll be in 10 years. I don’t see that far into the future. However, I would hope by then I will be able start my foundation to help fund causes that I believe in. I always said the worth of a man is not how much he makes, it’s how much he gives. I hope in 10 years, I will be able to give more than I’ve ever dreamed possible.

gabriel-seguraGabriel Segura – www.cssmania.com

I see myself working at home full time dedicated to web design and other design trends (industry design), together with my wife doing some illustrations i normally use in my webdesigns. I would love to start up my own design studio, and have a less stressed life.

Paul_BoagPaul Boag – www.boagworld.com

In 10 years time I would hope that Headscape will still be going strong. However, I would like to see its daily operation less reliant on myself and the other directors. This would free up my time to develop personal projects and maybe even have a life beyond the web. I have been working with the web since 1994 and although it has been an incredibly exciting ride I am not sure I see myself developing websites forever.

Andy_RutledgeAndy Rutledge – www.andyrutledge.com

Thanks for your note. I appreciate your request, but I’m afraid I’ll not be able to provide very good fare. I’m already doing what I’ve wanted to work toward. I own a nice design agency and work with great people who do excellent work. So, I’m good; mission accomplished. I see perhaps adding one or two more agency partners over the next few years, but as far as plans …I’m not looking for much in the way of change. I certainly want to be doing better work in 10 years, but I’ve already achieved what I set out to achieve.

elliott-kemberElliott Kember – www.elliottkember.com

I have no idea where I’ll be in 10 years. Every time I try and answer this question, I end up being wrong, so my answers get more and more vague.

I’d like to be in charge of something – most probably a startup. I’ve been setting myself up to run a startup for some time now – I just haven’t figured out what to do. Ideally I’ll be working with a small team, and having a lot of fun. I certainly hope I’m not working in a cubicle somewhere, for somebody else, developing Death March software and hating it. I don’t know where I’ll have to be to make this happen – possibly San Fransisco or London.

In my opinion, it’s a very difficult question to answer – as soon as you start deciding, you begin to limit your options. Ten years ago, I’d never have expected to be living in the UK, or even working in this industry. So far I’ve played it by ear, and it seems to have worked out fine. As long as I can be flexible enough to jump at opportunities, things should be okay!

David_LeggettDavid Leggett – www.tutorial9.net

In 10 years, I’d like to be making annual trips around the world working as a volunteer for understaffed schools and orphanages. I really admire the people who are able to organize projects that allow the world as a community to help each other (a kind of organization I’ll never be able to achieve), and it’s something I think would be very interesting to be more involved in. Of course, I’d like to still be working on the side with various blog projects like UX Booth, Tutorial9, and Better Blogger.

marc-perelMarc Perel – www.obox-design.com

Ten years time, that’s a far way away, that’s about half my life!

I would say there are a few things that spring to mind, career wise; the mose basic goal would certainly be to have a stable, scalable business; be it in themes, site development or anything else which Obox ventures into in the coming years. I don’t need a sport scar or a mansion, if I have a house with a garden and a business which gives me enough time to ride/run/chill in the day, work in the mornings and evenings, then I’ll be happy.

Paul_RandallPaul Randall – www.prandall.com

In 10 years time I would still like to see myself primarily designing websites, but working more on logo and print work running a small design agency or online business.

I hope to have my work featured in a publication such as .net or a book at some point, and for it to be well received within the web community.

Gary_VaynerchukGary Vaynerchuk – www.crushitbook.com

No idea, my goal is to enjoy the process of gettin there but I am a reActionary businessman and don’t make predicitions or have jar thoughts where I will be.

Jon Phillips – www.spyrestudios.com

jonphillips

In ten years I hope I’ll be traveling around the world and answering emails from my laptop on some airport wireless internet access. Though I see no reason for not doing this now, I’m not sure I want to wait 10 years to be where I want to be and go where I want to go. I will surely still be designing websites but probably work more on personal projects rather than client projects.

amy-mahonAmy Mahon – www.amymahon.com

In 10 years time, if all goes to plan, I hope to be primarily focusing on raising a family. It’s a tad old-fashioned, I know, but I was fortunate to have had a stay-at-home mom and I’ve always wanted to be as involved with my children. This doesn’t mean I’d abandon web design altogether – just schedule projects in a way that will allow me to maintain a nice balance between work and family. That’s if all goes to plan.

My Plan B is to really focus on my career, get a few big name clients under my belt after which I would speak in peer conferences, teach college classes and/or write a book.

chriswallace-bio-picChris Wallace – www.walmedia.com

In ten years I’d like to be at a point where I am able to do some traveling, see parts of the world that I’ve never seen before and spend time with my family. Running my own business is fun and I’d like to continue doing that as well, creating and defining user experience on the web and beyond. I’m positive in 10 years the “Internet” will have evolved to the point where it’s rarely just a mouse and keyboard, but rather a window into other parts of the world. I want to be heavily involved in that.

chrisspoonerChris Spooner – blog.spoongraphics.co.uk

It’s pretty hard to imagine where I will be in ten years time, or even to imagine what I’d like to be doing. A career in web design ten years ago would be a completely different scenario than what it is now, so who knows what the industry will be like in another ten into the future?!

With that said, I’ve recently moved myself into a position where I’m supporting myself working as a self employed person doing something I love, so I can only hope this will continue into the future. It would be awesome to be able to lead a fulfilling life from a mix of blogging and design projects that offers plenty of exciting work while also allowing for personal time to head off and do whatever I like!

matthew-smithMatthew Smith – www.squaredeye.com

In ten years. Well, let me think about where I was on this day ten years ago first. Okay, I got it, I was in my third semester at Colorado State University, a year before I left for England, and I was totally dissatisfied with my art education. I thought then, that commercial art was a form of selling out to the man. I like beer and raising a family, so I’m a little more open minded now.

So, ten years? Sheesh! I have no idea where I’ll be in ten years, but I can say a few things I dream about. I dream about starting a school/agency that builds young people up into powerful thinkers, designers, citizens, and provides quality services and products to the design industry and the world at large. I dream about having opportunities to work on projects that change people, change institutions, and help people grow. I’d like to be a fun dad, and a kick ass husband. I’d like have written a book or two.

All the stuff I wanted to do ten years ago, now seems wimpy though. I’ve done and seen so much more than I thought I would, and the smallest things ended up being the most important. It’s not easy for me to answer a question like this with a simple “I’d like to have made my first million”, though that’d be nice too 🙂

adiirockstarAdii Pienaar – www.adii.co.za

When I look back on my life in 10 years’ time, I’d love to see that I had been slowly improving myself on a daily basis during those 10 years. Fact is, I’m an entrepreneur and I’ll most probably (touch wood) be involved in a few businesses in the next 10 years; so my only goal relating to my “career” is to be successful enough not to ever have to go back to back to full-time employment.

Beyond that, improving & challenging myself is much more important, as I know that those two things will mean that I’ll be happy with my life in 10 years’ time.

gracesmithGrace Smith – www.gracesmith.co.uk

Without a doubt I would still be working in the creative industry, but focused on writing while perhaps pursuing photography on a more professional level. While I love web design and development I am becoming extremely passionate about developing my knowledge and skills as a writer and blogger and I’ve recently become obsessed with photography (having bought my first DSLR this year).

Ideally in the future I would like to be a published author within the design sector as well as exhibiting my work as a photographer.  I would also hope in 10 years to still be publishing online and be heavily involved within the web community.

My thoughts on where I will be in 10 years are diverse as I hope I will have several creative outlets that constantly challenge and inspire me. If that’s the case then I know i will be both happy and fulfilled.

Martin BeanMartin Bean – www.mcbwebdesign.co.uk

It’s no secret that us humans are creatures of learning and I’m know different. I love expanding my knowledge on every subject possible (yet still fare badly in pub quizzes and IT-Boxes). As a result of this, I hope that in ten years time I’ve managed to expand upon my knowledge of the web and related technologies and practices. And a pay rise or two.

At the moment, I work as a web developer, mainly developing websites in HTML/CSS and building applications with PHP and MySQL. In ten years time, I would like to be proficient in at least two more server-side/programming languages. Ruby on Rails strikes me as one of those that’s good to know. Java and .NET are also alluring to me, but I feel those are a definitely a step up from my good ol’ trusty PHP.

Sarah_MadysonSarah Whinnem – www.maysondesigns.com

Right now I seem to be at a bit of a crossroads, where in ten years I can see myself following two different paths. My original goal was always to make a career of being an in-house graphic designer, whether through a private company (like my current position) or with an agency. Following that path, in ten years I would like to be in an art/creative director position, being part of a team of like-minded creative people all working together to produce an exceptional and beautiful product, whether it be literature or software or art. Recently, however, I’ve also been able to see myself accomplishing a different, but similar, goal, that of the successful freelancer. The freedom, variety, and independence that it offers are very alluring to me. Communicating as often as I do with people who are making it work being their own boss and calling the shots makes me believe that it’s a great opportunity. And in the end, if the freelance path is successful, I may end up with a team to work with and rely on. What this means to me is that it’s not so much specifically where I am that is an important goal for me, but that creativity, collaboration, excellence, and teamwork are abstract goals that no matter where I end up in ten years, I want to make happen.

Emma_TaylorEmma Taylor – www.twigglegraphics.com

I never thought it would be such a tricky question…it’s definitely got my brain ticking!! I LOVE the freelance world and feel quite content with being a one (wo)man band. I’ve never been one to plan so far in advance and i’m still learning a lot about who i am and about our industry. I love designing for the web and hope to continue doing what i love for many years to come. I plan to start working with more freelancers and design agencies and focus on what i know best, setup a few personal projects helping others and reflecting on my experiences, travel more, continue to work along side my husbands business and most of all, enjoy myself in the process!

adellecharlesAdelle Charles – fuelbrandnetwork.com

In ten years I see myself still running FUEL and not working for anyone else but myself. I know that’s a long time from now, however there are so many possibilities and growth to be had that I won’t be able to stop until I have achieved all of my personal goals as well as company goals. (Currently finishing up a solid year one). We have many more additions to the publishing (Fuel Brand Network) side of Fuel Brand Inc. as well as some non-profit goals and teaching through conferences & workshops. Maybe catch up with me in ten years?

Thanks to all who were involved in this post, if you’d like to be featured in future posts, drop me an email with a little bit about yourself.


Be proud, your favourite pieces of work!

There is always a time when we’ve kicked back our chair and thought, “Heck yeah, I’ve just done an awesome job!”. It could be writing an article, making client/customer interaction better, an awesome design or other piece of work where you know in your soul you’ve achieved something great.

I wanted to know what others classed as their most proud piece of work was to date and the reasons why. I’d love to hear about the work you’re most proud of!

jeffrey-zeldmanJeffrey Zeldman – www.zeldman.com

Web standards. The phrase, the group, the education effort via A List Apart and Designing With Web Standards. We changed the web. We changed the world.

Clumsily pecked into a tiny picture of a keyboard.

steven-snellSteven Snell – www.vandelaydesign.com

I would say that I’m most proud of the Vandelay Design Blog, not necessarily from a design perspective but just the overall results of the blog. When I started the blog I really knew nothing about blogging, so it’s been an incredible growing experience. I’m excited about the community of readers that have chosen to subscribe to the blog, and I’m proud that I’ve been consistent with it for more than two years.

jacobcassJacob Cass – www.justcreativedesign.com

My blog would probably have to be my proudest achievement and has been my longest ongoing project. It’s a great feeling to be able to do what you love for a living and my blog allows me to do this, all while having a readership that teaches and motivates me to do it better each day.

jcd-screenshot

mattdraperMatt Draper – www.identitygraphics.org

When I took a step back and really thought about it one piece kept jumping into my mind “Xycoon”. I have never been able to put my finger on exactly why I like this piece so much. Perhaps because when I look at it even now 5 years later, I still would not change a thing about it. I doubt many of us can say that about to many of our pieces.

IG

adiirockstarAdii – www.woothemes.com / www.adii.co.za

In terms of greatly influencing my online reputation, I think the Polaroid Redesign V2 (my project codename – see attached) propelled me into some kind of a spotlight. Beyond the positive feedback I got on the design, I was actually also featured on quite a few CSS galleries and whilst I now (slightly) cringe when looking at the design, I can still acknowledge the fact that it increased the speed in which I established my online branding.

Polaroid-Redesign-V2

I also later released the design (twice) as a free WP theme (see: WP-Polaroid V2 WordPress Theme ), which probably single-handedly sent about 250K unique visitors to my blog. The Polaroid Redesign V2 was also the first blog design that paid for itself in terms of the ads I sold, so it signaled a “first of many” trend for me.

collis_taeedCollis Ta’eed – www.envato.com

I’m most proud of the very original FlashDen.net site from back in 2006.  It’s not my best design or CSS work, and looking back it had a long way to go to becoming really usable, but I’m proud of it because it was the site that started Envato!

FlashDen_Original

davidaireyDavid Airey – www.davidairey.com

I’m most proud of my two blogs, the self-titled David Airey and Logo Design Love. I’ve learned a great deal from the people who visit, and the content helps potential clients to decide if I’m the right man for their design project. They’re also the longest combined project I’ve worked on, approaching three years now.

elliotjaystocksElliot Jay Stocks – www.elliotjaystocks.com

It’s hard to pick one, but I think the ‘Blue Flavor’ poster I did for Blue Flavor was one of my favourite projects. I had loads of fun doing it and I was really pleased with the end result, as was the client. It was the kind of job I’d do for the pure enjoyment anyway, so it was great for it to actually be paid work! I got to do some drawing, mess around with a few cool typographic and textural treatments, and generally have a lot of fun mixing up illustration and design.

leemunroeLee Munroe – www.leemunroe.com

The Big Word Project [www.thebigwordproject.com]

I co-created this website while at University with Paddy Donnelly. It was a ‘small’ side project to help me research web apps and to try out Ruby on Rails (and to try and make a little bit of money). The Big Word Project we set about listing all the word of the dictionary and selling them for $1 per letter. By buying a word you linked it to your website of choice. First family and friends started buying words, then John Gruber mentioned it on his blog and that kicked off a hoard of bloggers buying words to their sites. The highlight was getting interviewed by Wired magazine. The website still survives today and has sold over 6,800 words.

chrisspoonerChris Spooner – http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk

My piece of work I’m most proud of has to be my site over at Blog.SpoonGraphics. I built it purely as an experiment to gain a feel for the world of blogging, and it soon started to take off and developed a good profile in the community. It has continued to develop and now has reached an amazing level of exposure, seeing huge traffic and subscriber stats. It has also built me a great profile against my name, bringing stacks of opportunities from interviews on various sites, appearances in magazines and even the odd book! With none of this never being expected it’s definitely my most valuable achievement.

blogspoon

andy-sowardsAndy Sowards – www.andysowards.com

My most prized piece of work so far is definitely my blog/portfolio site – http://www.andysowards.com . The reason for this is simply because it was my launching pad to what I am today, its my constant piece of ongoing work. It will never be perfect but with each revision (it was recently/currently redesigned and is now almost officially on version 2.0) it gets a little closer to what I want it to be.

andysowardswebsite

I have had a LOT of fun working on it and in the process have learned so much about WordPress and its inner workings so that I can pass on that knowledge and value to my clients. Everytime I see it, I get a feeling of accomplishment, and am always thinking of ways I can improve it and bring more value to my readers/clients.

jonphillipsJon Phillips – www.spyrestudios.com

For some reason I’m particularly proud of Design-Newz.com. It took me about 5 or 6 hours to design and code this site (much less than usual) I was feeling inspired and creative and just went ahead with this simple idea I had. I’m known for redesigning my sites all the time, but I haven’t touched this one (except minor tweaks) since its launch and it’s been online for a while now. This design has been stolen, copied, plagiarized, etc… many times! And that’s probably why I’m proud of it.

design-newz

cindy-liCindy Li – www.cindyli.com

Back in 1999 Star Wars Episode 1 came out. My coworker, Jonatha Caspian and I were discussing the costumes that year and I told her how I thought the Queen Amidala costume was beautiful. She suggested I create that. I told her I didn’t even know how to sew. I believe I started that project in August. The first month I spent researching every photo I could get my hand on of the dress and gathering supplies. Jonatha taught me how to sew and I ended up creating that costume at night after work for another month. I would photo copy the embroidery on the front panel of the dress and enlarge it so I could draw the pattern in paint on the fabric. I had to think out of the box to create that costume for instance the bubbles at the bottom were plastic and I bought three Nerf footballs and spray painted them with transparent stained glass paint. I even added lights to the inside that were battery operated so they glowed at night. The headdress was made of cushion that is used in couches and carved for the shape then wrapped with hair extensions.

In 2001 when the Smithsonian museum hosted the Star Wars exhibit I wore it on the metro into the exhibit (they asked people to dress up on the first day). I had been in a car accident the week before so I wasn’t moving that fast and I missed the group photo but I still had fun because tourists kept asking to take their photo with me (they thought I was part of the exhibit).

Now this costume sits on a mannequin and gets worn by various geeky friends when they come into my apartment and you can see it here.

sambrownSam Brown – sam.brown.tc

The CV design I created for the Steve Stevenson Challenge (part of the Smashing Magazine article How To Create A Great Web Design CV and Résumé) is a piece I’m unusually proud of. It’s not something you come to design very often, and it’s not my preferred method of design but the work I put into this I am very happy with.

CV-sambrown

Not to mention the fantastic response it received, I’ve had many an email thanking me for releasing the template that has been downloaded thousands of times and most recently it has been licensed to be included in a new CV building application that is on the horizon. It might have been a spare time effort, but I am indeed very proud.

oliverkerOliver Ker – www.oliverker.com

What am I most proud of? This is probably a mixture of personal and ‘work’ related. I chose this piece of work as, number one, it is my Son which I am always proud of and all the new things he does every day (he is two years old now). And number two, it is a personal project that I really enjoyed working on, and it came out pretty much exactly how I envisaged it. Working on a computer everyday limits the time I get to pick up a pencil to work with.

FIN-ARTWORK

davidperelDavid Perel – www.obox-design.com

First off is GTPlayground.com. It was the first of it’s kind at the time and filled it’s niche perfectly. It was also the first time I ventured into the CSS and Div world. On top of that I programmed the entire thing myself. Not a single plugin was used. Considering that my main focus has always been design I am still proud that I managed to create that beast.

Secondly, I am proud of what we did with From the Couch. That site took about 10hrs to create but has changed the way we do business online and offline. It has opened doors that we never knew needed opening and given us access to some pretty influential peeps in the web industry. I am proud that we got there first (daily web vlog) and never gave up. I am also pretty stoked with how the redesign came out

matthew-smithMatthew Smith – www.squaredeye.com

I would honestly say that I’m probably most proud of this design at  this point (of those I can show) attached. The Matthew Henry Project.

mh_v5

Martin BeanMartin Bean – www.mcbwebdesign.co.uk

What piece of work am I most proud of? Probably one my latest pieces, a website for a family member’s pub. It doesn’t sound that fantastic and it may not be a website for a multimillion pound organisation, but it was still fun and rewarding to see the finished product launched.

Why is this project the one I’m most proud of? Good question. Maybe it’s because being primarily a website developer, I normally don’t get unleashed on designing a website from the very beginning. Maybe because it was a break from crafting away on the back-end of corporate websites. Or it may be because it was the first project in a long time where I got to see it out from the very beginning to the end, when the site was launched.

Doginn

The website is fairly basic and not that complex, but I felt the way the site ended up looking and working was a success, especially when you consider it was designed and built over the course of a couple of days. The site is˜like many others˜powered by a bespoke content management system and features various modules for different types of content, such as news articles, upcoming events, a photo gallery and feedback form. There is also a few enhancements powered by jQuery, such as pop-up details on events and gallery images that adds a little sparkle to the finished product, which can be found at www.doga68.com.

kyle-steedKyle Steed – www.kylesteed.com

My favorite piece of work, or the work I’m most proud of (to date), isn’t just one piece but a collection of paintings I like to call the “inner beast” series. I completed these 6 paintings nearing the end of my military service in Japan in the summer of 2007. They reflect the inner struggles I (we) all go through in life. I like to think that we all have animal instincts. So instead of paintings some abstract colors or shapes to express emotion, I wanted to dress my emotions up and give them some character.

InnerBeast

The reason I chose these as my favorite is because they are so personal and really the first official collection of anything I have done to date. I hope to complete more work like this in the future.

chris-pirilloChris Pirillo – http://chris.pirillo.com/

Gnomedex.

But don’t look to me to tell you why – look to the reviews we’ve received over the years, especially this past weekend’s event.

Thanks

Thanks to everyone who got involved in the article, it is greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing about your own work and which pieces you’re most proud of.

If you want to get involved in future posts, get in touch via the contact page with a bit of info on yourself and what you do and I’ll be in touch.

Designers, what was your first piece of work?

As designers progress through their careers they sometimes forget where they started. Some designers can spend well over 40 years in the industry and will still carry on designing well in to retirement. The trouble of HDD errors and random formatting throughout a computers life can erase a designers early days. Unless you’ve been willfully backing up your work from the early days it’s very difficult to keep track of where the “old stuff” is.

I spoke with quite a few designers who still had some of their “old stuff” to show off, and to see what kind of work they started doing way back when. A lot of the text is un-changed from the emails I received as I wanted the designers themselves to critique their own work. It’s amazing to see how far most of them have come.

David Perel – http://www.obox-design.com

I do indeed, in my spare time I used to design helmets and the first design I ever did was a helmet which created using Microsoft Paint in order to create the outlines and then Fireworks to paint it. It is attached.

daveperel_helmet

Ryan Downie – http://www.ryandownie.com

Here is a screenshot of the very first full websites that I did. I am not scared to show it.

It was my own portfolio site that seemed to do pretty well on the CSS Galleries, and was launched just over fifteen months ago.

It was coded all in html and css without a CMS solution (as I didn’t know what one was back then) and i soon got fed up of having to go through and edit all the pages. I soon realized the error of my ways and scrapped it.

Version 2 is in the pipelines and a few of you will have seen this, and is expected to be launched towards the end of August.

ryandownienet

Tim Van Damme – http://www.madebyelephant.com

[Gavin] – Tim was in London at the time of the post being but together and still very kindly emailed providing a link to his old work. One piece is below. [/Gavin]

timvandamme_cvision

Pasquale D’Silva – http://www.darkmotion.com

These are my first vector pieces from back in 05ish:

pasqualeillustration

David Airey – http://www.davidairey.com

I’ve kept that online to remind myself how crap I once was. It’s a veritable feast of MS Frontpage and tabular design, with a horrific logo and a jumped-up, generic business name.

davidairey_newdawn

Chris Spooner – http://www.spoongraphics.co.uk

An old print design project from my first job, a magazine page ad for local events.

chrisspooner_primary-times

Gabriel Segura – http://www.cssmania.com

My first design in 2004 worth to show, attached. The rest, can be seen in http://nv30.com up to today, 2009.

2004_1st

Oliver Ker – http://www.oliverker.co.uk

I created this way back in high school, must be about 1999/2000 when we were just allowed to start using computers and photoshop for projects. This isn’t the first piece I did but I remember the first piece. It was when we got our first PC for Christmas ’95 and I drew a golf green with flag pole in PAINT – it was awesome! Back to this piece – it was for a packaging project as part of my GCSE’s. The Video cover (yes video!) was created in photoshop and I managed to squeeze in as many cliches in as possible (hey, it was the first time I’d used a computer for design!) Look at the ‘graphic pen filter’, unnecessary emboss, and really bad cut outs! The photos were fine, but the deadline got so tight that when it came to printing it out there was a problem with the printer and not even the teachers could get it to work correctly and this is how I had to hand it in!

I could have chosen a piece that looked kinda ok but thought this is the fun of it and probably the first time I got onto a computer, all my designs previous is drawn and sketched and not too bad!

rastrick-oliverker

Chris Merritt – http://www.pixelightcreative.com

Screenshot of version 1.0 of pixelightcreative.com. Tables, baby! Be gentle in your article!

picture-1

Jon Phillips – http://www.spyrestudios.com

I did this website for a friend of mine. He’s a magician and the website was (and still is) for promoting his services and booking. Of course when I built this website I did it all with tables and inline CSS and put as many keywords in the meta keywords and description as possible. I did this website back in the days when people thought you could just stuff a page with related keywords and easily end up on the 1st page of Google for those keywords. Things have changed a lot since! 🙂

screencapture

Kevin Crafts – http://www.kevincrafts.com

I’ve attached a screenshot of my personal site in flash (yikes).

untitled

Steve Smith – http://www.orderedlist.com

So, I remembered this website that I made back when I was in high school. I used to keep and breed a fish called the Jack Dempsey, and I made a Geocities website about them. I haven’t seen this site in years, but thanks to archive.org, I managed to pull up a version of it from 1999, which would have been about a year after I stopped updating it. Hope you enjoy! (oh, this is hideous!)

not_too_proud

Lee Munroe – http://www.leemunroe.com

I did this for a cinema about 5/6 years ago (It’s still online)

leemunroe_iveagh

Jonathan Snook – http://snook.ca

A portfolio site that I had put together in late ’99. I did sample company layouts to demonstrate my design and HTML skills. Sadly, I don’t think it helped me land a single job. 🙂

picture-3

Matthew Smith – http://www.squaredeye.com

mattpastedgraphic

Mike Kus – http://thethingswemake.co.uk

Whilst the site is very nice, Mike assures me this is the first site he built. I checked the code, it’s all in tables so it must be a first!

our-great-adventure_1248732957765

Jason Santa Maria – http://www.jasonsantamaria.com

Sure thing. I actually wrote about this a while back and the previous versions of my sites are online:

http://jasonsantamaria.com/articles/my-first-website/

http://v1.jasonsantamaria.com/
http://v2.jasonsantamaria.com/

jason-santa-maria

Jacob Cass – http://www.justcreativedesign.com

This was one of my very first logos for a heavy metal band called Anno Domini or “After Death” back in 2004 (was aged 16) before I had any design training at all.

iains6

Veerle Pieters – http://veerle.duoh.com/

I had to dig into my archives and go look for stuff that is not laying around here since it is so old 🙂 I started out in ’92 so that’s ‘pre-internet-dino’ time 🙂 I was a print designer back then. I still am, but it’s not the mayor part anymore like it was back then.

My very very first design of a brochure is incomplete (I only found parts of it) so I’m showing you my 2nd one. It dates back to ’92. Computers (Macs) had only 4 MB of RAM back then (imagine!) 🙂 So some of the things were done by hand (analog) still: photos were placed into the layout at prepress agencies etc. This 2nd brochure is also designed that same year. The logo is not designed by me btw, so it’s just the layout of the brochure. On the back there is a watercolor I made. I still have the original watercolor.

This is really old stuff and definitely not ‘my best’ design (I came a long way since then). The means were different to, like I mentioned before. All imagery was still done analog e.g. the illustrations of the tiles, is not digital, it’s paper that was scanned in at the prepress agency.

deganck-inside-2

Cameron Moll – http://www.cameronmoll.com

There’s something so childhood-photo-ish about diving into one’s personal website archives. But it’s amazing to see how far we’ve really come—or how far we have yet to go.

Prepare yourself for legendary FrontPage 98 code.

littlesnapper

Andy Sowards – http://www.andysowards.com

Basically when I was learning to use photoshop I was like 18 or 19 at the time, and would take pictures from my camera phone and grunge them up and post them on myspace, thankfully I don’t use myspace anymore LOL. This is probably one of my first attempts of that.

photoshopme2

Rob Palmer – http://www.branded07.com

Ok don’t laugh!! Please find attached a visual of the first website I ever designed!

The site was called Torqair, and it was a micro site advertising Brake and Motor products. (Built solely in flash!) Oh the fun!

torqair

Elliot Jay Stocks – http://www.elliotjaystocks.com

This is nowhere near my first design project, as I’ve been designing forever, but this was one of the first websites I designed after joining EMI as Junior Web Designer, and that was my first ‘proper’ job after leaving uni:

elliot_jossstone

Not everyone had a screenshot…

Paul Boag – http://www.boagworld.com

Unfortunately I do not have a screen shot of my first website anyway. It wasn’t much to look at to be honest. It was a site for Rank Films and consisted of the rank logo (you know, the guy hitting the large gong) centred on a grey background (no background colours at that stage) with a load of left aligned text underneath (no table based layout yet!).

30 Designers 1 Question – Where are you most inspired?

In 99% of interviews with designers we will always get asked the same question! “Where do you get your inspiration from?” It crops up time and time again and is usually answered with the same kind of answer which usually consists of CSS galleries, printed material or the outdoors etc.

I wanted to find out where 30 designers are when they feel most inspired. Was there one place where a creative person can be when all of the ideas come together?

The place where I’m most inspired is absolutely bathroom related, 80% shower, 20% on the pot. However gruesome that sounds, the bathroom is like in inspirational supernova.

aaronirizarryAaron Irizarry – www.thisisaaronslife.com

I would say that I am most find myself inspired most when I am in my backyard, it is very quiet and serene, and usually if I am back there it is some of the only quiet time I get.

Other than that… I am a pretty random person, and inspiration can strike me at any time, from the car to the kitchen… sometimes it just pops into my head.

oliverkerOliver Ker – www.oliverker.com

Inspiration occurs in lots of places, I wouldn’t say I go to one place to get inspiration, but If I get some of my ideas is either in car or at that point just before you go to sleep – and I never get to write them down. (the only times I get to think about things)

sambrownSam Brown – http://sam.brown.tc

Super question.

I feel most inspired in two places, the shower, most likely because I’m alone with just my thoughts and the relaxing sound of running water, nothing is better at clearing my head. Also in bed at night trying to wind-down from a busy day working, I always keep a notepad and pen on my bedside table as I often have many great ideas or inspiring thoughts when I’m trying to drift off to sleep. Probably because I’m too busy thinking about the days ahead and what I need to accomplish, any quiet personal time is thus my real answer by the sounds of it.

gravatarDavid Legget – www.betterblogger.net

I find a great deal of inspiration when I’m attending conferences or local meetup groups. People tend to be my source of inspiration, and it’s in places where we convene that I have the opportunity share ideas and perspectives on different interests of mine. These places encourage taking action and promote new ideas for my business, my goals, and my design process.  The room itself is not important (we’ve met in universities, hotels, churches, even outside), it’s the gathering of people that inspires conversation and discovery.

pasqualedasilvaPasquale D’Silva – http://darkmotion.com

For me, it actually is ‘where’ that inspires me. A ‘place’ is the answer to ‘where’.

Places contain an infinite collection of elements that define them from surroundings, people, embedded culture which naturally produce moods and tones. So because places inspire me, I don’t have a single location I am at when I am most inspired. In fact, I was so hungry for more amazing things to stimulate thought, that I just moved across the world ( From Australia, to Vancouver, Canada).

I guess in a generality, I’d say that the places I am most inspired are where there is a bustle of new people. People build culture, so the surrounding environment is also very much shaped by the types of people that exist within them. I’m an animator & illustrator, so life is really an essential resource to draw from. Airports, big cities, bank queues; anywhere with a diversity of people does the trick.  I’ll often take a sketchbook out with me to scribble caricatures, & take notes about ideas that spring up. The best ideas seem to come sub-consciously, so just being away from a computer or drawing table is enough to let ideas fire around.

davidaireyDavid Airey – www.davidairey.com

It differs, but sometimes I’m inspired in bed. Now I’m not professing to be a sex god. Far from it. I’m saying that being in self-employment makes it difficult to switch off at night, and when I climb into bed I get business / design ideas floating about.

jacobcassJacob Cass – http://justcreativedesign.com

I seem to get my best ideas is when I am brainstorming which is usually in my office, on the desk parallel with my computer desk (a whole 180 degree swivel in my chair). I am most comfortable here and this is usually where my ideas come from. Other than that, it would be in bed when trying to go to sleep.

davidperelDavid Perel – http://www.from-the-couch.com

Without a doubt the best place I get inspired is at a specific place and time.

Its on a Saturday night between 7pm and 1 am and its at my desk. The reason it’s at that time is because one of our radio stations plays my favourite music (deep house music) and they play it well. It’s got to the point where I have committed myself to design on a Saturday between those times and it works every time. Obox Design’s ’09 site, all our themes and all our wallpapers were created during those hours.

So for me its at my desk, but at only at a specific time.

liammckayLiam McKay – http://www.wefunction.com

I don’t think there’s any one place that stands out as a big source of ideas for me. But one place I do tend to think about ideas and creative solutions a lot clearer, is when I’m driving on my own. I really love being alone in my car listening to my favorite music, enjoying the occasional good weather and relatively good scenery. I think maybe the because I find driving quite relaxing has something to do with the fact I get a lot of good ideas while driving, and also coming home from a quick drive tends to give me an extra boost and thirst for getting my work done.

snookJonathan Snook – http://snook.ca

That’s a very interesting question. Mostly, I’m sitting at my chair in my office. Not very exciting, I know. Otherwise, I’m often inspired by buildings and architecture. Therefore, I’ll be inspired when I’m just walking down the street and see a window sign or see a building accent. I try and store those ideas away in the back of my head for when I’m in the thick of designing.

jonphillipsJon Phillips – http://www.spyrestudios.com

I like that, great idea!

My best ideas and inspiration usually comes at night when I go to sleep. For some reason as soon as I put my head on the pillow, ideas start popping in my head. So I now keep my Moleskine notebook close and write those ideas down.

chriscoyierChris Coyier – http://css-tricks.com

A lot of times it is where I happen to be about 15 minutes after I’ve left the computer. Could be sitting down to have a bite to eat for example. I haven’t been away from it long enough to have “shaken it off” so my mind is still pretty focused on work, yet I’m taking in all the fresh stimuli of being out and about. I think that combination leads to some “ah-ha” moments pretty regularly.

Much to my annoyance, I have inspirational moment a lot of times as my mind is wrapping up loose ends right before I drift off to sleep at night, which can cause sleep problems since I typically need to wake up and at least jot them down so they are not lost!

sharebrainThomas Ulbricht – http://sharebrain.info

So where am I when i am most inspired? Wait …let me think … think think think …. hmmm… think think … seems like sitting in front of the computer don’t inspire me.
So wait a moment, i will be right back … just taking a bath………….. ok back. Well that was nice … and i felt some inspiration coming … but damn … now i am sitting in front of this computer again. and. the.inspiration.goes.away.need food! brb again ……………………………………………………………………….

Ahhh that was good. sitting on the balkony, eating a great non healthy sandwich, watching people on the streets…but still no big inspirations.

Hmmm if i think about it there isn’t such a thing as THE place for inspiration. I think that a creative idea always based on the need to make something better. That can happen everywhere. Even at normaly “not so inpiring places”. So if you take a closer look you must be “everywhere and nowhere” – it’s about where your brain can be.
Inspiration comes from imagination. So where should you be when you want to be inspired? Anywhere you want. 🙂

elliotjaystocksElliot Jay Stocks – http://elliotjaystocks.com

Being outside in the midst of nature with hardly anything man-made around is probably when I feel most inspired, I’d say, but that’s a ‘general’ kind of inspiration about everything; not specifically design. In terms of inspiration that has more of an influence on my actual work, I think I tend to be most inspired when flicking through beautiful books. Books about design, books about anything; I just find book design to be extremely inspirational. That moment – where I’m standing in a book shop, looking at all different kinds of books and feeling completely immersed in all those sources of inspiration – that’s when I feel excited about where that inspiration could take me.

mikekusMike Kus – www.thethingswemake.co.uk

Interesting! 🙂  I’m anywhere normally – i get inspired anywhere… but I guess there are a few recurring places.
When I’m lying in bed in the dark before I go to sleep. I get ideas then I have to keep turning over to type them into my phone as a reminder for the next day.

When I’m out running – today I ran past a shop window which gave me a great idea for a site I’m working.

When I’m listening to music – This can be anywhere. As Soon I put a great record on I think about my work in a totally different way.
When I’m on the train… I guess i get inspired when I’m in a place where I have time to think without interruption.

leemunroeLee Munroe – www.leemunroe.com

lol bathroom related was one of the first things that sprung to mind for me too.

Answer: When I’m out for a run; it gives me a chance to get away from work, clear my mind and think about things. Then I’m raring to go once I get back to the laptop. Oh and when I’m at the pub or at friends house having drinks. I always come up with ideas then, but of course they don’t sound as good the next day.

veerlepietersVeerle Pieters – http://veerle.duoh.com

Interesting approach indeed.

I think for me the meaning of “where” would be perceived as “where is my mind” at that moment. My mind is disconnected from the real world at that moment. I’m in a very relaxed state of mind, only focused on what I’m creating, preferably with my favorite (deep house) music in my ears. That’s when I’m at the office sitting at my desk, in production mode as sort of speak. If I’m not working, or at the office, inspiration comes randomly at any place really. It’s all based on what I see and how I’m feeling at that moment: on my bike in the middle of nature, sitting in a couch in a nice modern looking interior, be surrounded with nice colors,…  I’m very easily distracted, and it’s at moments like that that my mind wonders off and I get inspired. It could also be in bed, right before I fall asleep, because at that moment my mind is very relaxed.

chrisspoonerChris Spooner – www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk

I actually find a lot of inspiration while browsing clothes stores, the printed promotional signage and labels are often designed using bright colours and abstract designs that tie into a specific theme. This also changes dramatically between women’s clothes, Summer/Winter fashion as well as the more leisure and extreme sports brands.

jasonsantamariaJason Santa Maria – www.jasonsantamaria.com

I always seem to come up with my best ideas while showering in the morning.

Grace Smith – www.gracesmith.co.uk

gracesmithUsually right before i drift into sleep, so i keep my iPod Touch and trusty Moleskine on my beside cabinet for those moments when inspiration strikes. Most of my best ideas have hit at this time so it tends to be a time when the ideas flow naturally for me. I simply jot down a quick summary and bullet points of the main idea, ready to be fleshed out the next day.

In the past i said to myself ‘i will remember that in the morning’, and never did which as most people know is just downright annoying. Due to this it’s been a force of habit to always have a way to record my ideas quickly and efficiently.

danielmatthewsDaniel Matthews – www.daniel-matthews.com

I find that inspiration tends to strike whenever I least expect it, whenever I’m away from a computer or as far away from a pen and paper as possible! Which usually means that I forget my best ideas. Thankfully since I got an iPhone, the number of forgotten brainwaves have decreased.

Prior to that though, my secondary place of inspiration was when seated on the toilet! I don’t know why, but it’s the place I seem to think most clearly. I usually bound down the bathroom stairs with a million ideas for whatever I’m working on, after washing my hands of  course!

ryandownieRyan Downie – www.ryandownie.com

I would have to say I am most inspired when at home, even though I do most of my work at the office for the agency that I work for. It just feels more relaxed and I can listen to music (sadly we not allowed to in the office due to phones etc). Something about working on my own in the late evenings with a bit of music ( whatever it be Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, Jay-Z, Coldplay etc) seems to really get the creative juices flowing.

adellecharlesAdelle Charles – www.fuelyourcreativity.com

When I’m at my computer I am the least inspired, since I pretty much sit in front of it all day. Believe it or not I’m usually in the car driving when I get a brilliant idea or think of something new. Often times I also get inspired while outside walking my dogs!

fabiosassoFabio Sasso – www.abduzeedo.com

Usually I’m in front of my computer doing other things but with my sketch book. However sometimes I need to go to other places to refresh my mind. I have to say when I’m practicing exercises such as running or surfing, I always get great ideas too. But one thing that is really important is that I have to understand exactly what I’m looking for in terms of target audience and their needs.

chrismerritChris Merrit – www.pixelightcreative.com

Typically I get inspired by other designers, which means I’m usually sitting at my Mac, looking at their work…….not very weird or wonderful.

Daniel Cork – www.corkingdesign.co.uk

danielcork

I get inspired in many different places. I find the warm morning shower to be a great place, also the boring train journey to work in the mornings is a pretty good too, I always make sure to keep a moleskin in my bag to write down/sketch out ideas. I get inspired in other locations also, these are normally at times when I am relaxing and not really thinking about anything in particular.

mattdraper

Matt Draper – www.identitygraphics.org

Most days its first thing in the morning in my kitchen. As I ponder my days work the ideas simply pop in my head.
I feel rushed some days to get to the computer and get them into form… before my mind looses them forever.

adiirockstar

Adii – http://adii.co.za

I’d have to go for when I’m driving in my car (alone) and listening to some proper rock tunes.

Lisa Moseley – www.lisamoseley.com

lisamoseleyAs it turns out my answer is neither weird nor wonderful really! It definitely is an interesting question, and had me really thinking about where I am when I find inspiration:

“For me, inspiration is often random and surprising. However if I had to narrow it down to a few locations I would say in my car, listing to my favorite tunes loud enough to really feel the music. Somehow the time alone, along with taking in all the surrounding sights, colors, people, movement accompanied by bands I really dig gets me inspired to explore new ideas.

Another is when I’m walking my dogs. No music, no talking, just us and nature. Even just small stroll around my neighborhood is enough to break the cycle and allow new ideas to manifest and grow. I do have to say though, inspiration can often be found anywhere and everywhere- most likely when you’re not expecting it, especially when you’re on a project that is exciting and inspiring in itself 🙂

sarahparmenterSarah Parmenter – www.youknowwhodesign.com

My most inspirational place is a little village in Spain called Caleta. I go there every year and since it’s only had electricity the past 10 years the internet isn’t wide spread down there, which means completely switching off from everything. I normally take down some great books, relating to web design, and it gives me time to think through the past years work and where I’d like to be heading toward this time next year when I’m back again…

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who got involved in the post! The emails were flying back and forth over a 10 day period and I really appreciate you all for taking the time out and getting back to me.

So… where are you most inspired?

I’d like to hear from other designers / developers or speakers about where they are when they’re most inspired, leave comments below.