Rob Hopkins is a a young designer and blogger living in San Diego. What inspires him? You’ll need to read all the way to the bottom of the interview to find out.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I started working right out of college which was 3 years ago, so I’m still relatively new to the experience. I live in San Diego, but home will always be Buffalo, NY. I’m extremely proud of where I’m from, which is the inspiration behind The Queen City Studio, right now it’s just my blog, but someday it will be a legit design studio! My apartment now is two blocks from San Diego’s Mission Bay which sports a great view of downtown, and it’s about a mile from the Pacific Ocean. Being in a place with almost perfect weather year round definitely has its perks.
What does an average work day involve? I’ve actually been working full time at an interactive agency for the past year. But, I work from home every Friday and I do all of my freelance work at night or on the weekends, so I’m still working from home quite a bit. My typical work-at-home day is wake up mid-morning, eat some breakfast and go through all of my favorite design related blogs to get my mind going. After a couple of hours of work, I’d head out to my patio to read and/or take a nap in the sun. Wake up, do some more work, hit the gym, eat dinner, and then get the bulk of my work done in the evening/night. I’m definitely a night person. There’s something extremely calming about working at night with the windows open and some music playing. It allows me to get into my own little world and whatever I’m working on becomes a part of that world and doesn’t feel like work.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you, helps you work more efficiently? I would have to say the iPhone is pretty inspiring. At work we’re in the final stages of development of an iPhone app for a big action sports brand, which I designed, and the experience has been really rewarding. In terms of design, it’s still a very new medium and so much can be done in what seems to be such a small space. The same thing happened with web design. In the beginning, developers (or “web designers”) were the only people designing websites – which made for some pretty visually painful websites. But once graphic designers learned the medium, websites became a lot more sophisticated. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of bad sites out there, but there are also tons of beautiful ones. Anyways, the same thing is happening with the iPhone. A lot of apps are still very shiny and tacky; they use tons of gradients and big rounded corners, bulky bevels—because most are done by the developers that work on them. But that’s changing. I’d bet that most designers own iPhones by now, and we can’t help but look at these apps and want to clean them up. It’s just how we think, and we’re learning the medium to try and establish better aesthetic standards.
How do you organize your space? As far as physical space goes, I tend to like ‘organized clutter’ meaning I like having a lot of ‘stuff’ but I keep it all pretty organized. Whether it’s something large or a tiny knick-knack everything is neatly placed, so I can still easily function. I’m also the exact opposite of a pack-rat—if something isn’t needed or wanted, it’s in the trash. To some, the wall above my desk or the stickers on my MacBook might seem random, but there’s a very meticulous and planned approach when anything is added. In terms of software and programs, I tend to just use my own system. I keep things separated by project, a place for active and inactive projects, source files, copy, etc. I’m the same with files as I am with physical stuff—if I don’t need it, I trash it. We use Basecamp at work, and it’s a really great tool for organizing projects, corresponding with other team members, keeping track of deadlines, and documenting conversations.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? My MacBook Pro. I think it may be the best purchase I’ve ever made. If there’s a fire, there’s no way it’s not coming with me. Oh, this isn’t a tangible item, but my music – I’d be useless with out my music. [Below is a piece from Rob's personal portfolio]
What inspires you? It might be cliché, but honestly, everything around me can be inspiring. It seems like I notice things that most people might not, whether I like them or not I think I take something away from everything I see. More specifically, I think it’s the work of my peers that inspires me the most. There are so many talented people out there doing great work, and at the end of the day I want to be right there with them. Not because I want to “be a famous designer” or anything, but because, simply put, design is one of the most powerful tools in the world—who wouldn’t want to contribute to that? [Below is another piece from his personal portfolio]