February 19, 2013
Designer Javier García keeps himself busy not only as an industrial-designer-turned-graphic-designer/illustrator working in San Francisco, but also as an avid collector of mid-century modern design. Take a peek inside his Bay Area home office — a treasure trove of vintage pieces, including several by Charles and Ray Eames — in our latest tour. Read more
November 13, 2012
Graphic designer and painter Ricky Watts spends the workday in a studio in Sebastopol, CA, that he once shared with his grandfather, Arthur. Today, Ricky’s Embody Chair shares the space with an Eames Lounge and Ottoman first owned by Arthur and his family. Take a look at the workshop and hear the story behind the Eames piece — as told in a charming recollection from Ricky’s mother. Read more
Balance, Design, Technology
September 21, 2011
The last question we always ask Playlisters—“If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be?”—is notorious for stumping even the most creative of folks. But we think graphic designer Carolyn Sewell’s answer takes the cake. Take a look-see to learn what the Southern-born creator of Postcards To My Parents and Postcards To My Peeps listens to (and feels inspired by) in the home she shares with custom furniture designer and builder Richard Sewell of The Proper Carpenter.
What do you listen to while you work? Having to answer this, I’m realizing my listening style is quite manic…my process is a bit scattered (read: teeny tiny attention span) so my music shifts with my mood and focus. If I’m sketching or working in Photoshop or Illustrator then it could be anything from Black Keys and Beastie Boys to Arcade Fire and Heartless Bastards. If I’m working on copy edits or estimates, then I prefer to take it down a notch and listen to Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Ray LaMontagne, etc. And I’ve recently started listening to Debbie Millman’s podcast Design Matters…not only is her voice like a caramel blanket, but the creative folks she interviews are so amazing and inspiring that my skin starts tingling and my brain starts oozing. It’s a great feeling.
How do you listen? I work by myself in my home (so no need for earphones) and usually listen from my computer. I used to listen to my iPod when commuting to meetings, but found that I kept missing my metro stops. I’d get so wrapped into my music that I’d forget that I actually had a destination. Have I mentioned my short attention span?
Balance, Design, Technology
August 3, 2011
This week’s Playlist is from Rick VanderLeek of Fairly Painless Advertising who counts Herman Miller as one of his clients and has an iTunes playlist that could run for a month without repeating a song. Here he references not one, but two, great music sources from previous Playlisters: Justin Gage’s Aquarium Drunkard and Designers.MX from Blake Allen. Do great minds think alike? Find out with this new mix from the Saugatuck, Michigan-based art director and graphic designer.
What do you listen to while you work? I work at all hours, so it’s more about the time of day that determines what I listen to. If I broke it out, I think it’s fair to say mornings are usually acoustic/folk. Afternoons I typically listen to more indie/rock. At night, I usually turn to more beat-driven/ambient/electronic music, and often jazz.
How do you listen? During the day, earbuds. Occasionally I’ll unplug and DJ in the creative department at the office. I love turning people on to new music. I listen through Seige Audio headphones while I work at home.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? If I’m listening to music online, it’s usually KCRW’s eclectic24. Lately I’ve been checking out Designers.MX. Such a good combination of music and design. I want to create a mix for them. I’m currently checking out Spotify.
Does music influence your work? Well, it must in some way or another. I listen to it all the time. It’s hard to pinpoint how a specific album or song would influence me through my design. However, I could design a poster in a shorter time listening to Animal Collective or Girl Talk than I would listening to an acoustic Neil Young album. An aspect of my job that I love is helping with the musical direction for a video or film Fairly Painless is working on. Whether it’s the pensive tone of The Album Leaf or an upbeat RJD2 jam, it’s a challenging task matching music with picture.
August 2, 2010
A rather elegant cat landed in my inbox recently. Alexie Hiles, an illustrator and graphic designer based in France, sent the images through of Mr Grey in response to our Pets in the Office series. I was intrigued by her space and her work so I asked her to share a little bit more.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve been working from home full time as freelance graphic designer for 3 years, I’m working mostly in the fields of institutional and culture communication in France. I am also an illustrator, which I enjoy most and I try to post a sketch as often as possible on my tumblr blog. I would love create children books now! I’ve always had a place to draw where I lived as long as I can remember.
And where is home? Our home is in Lille, in the north of France, between Paris, Brussels, London and Amsterdam. I really enjoy living in one of Europe’s cross roads. We bought our house 2 years ago from one of my partner’s former architecture teachers. I like the idea that the place where I spend most of my days has been a home office for a long time.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? The house was built in 1930, we are furnishing it slowly with furniture found in jumble sales or vintage stores from the 30′s to the 50′s. The home office is the place where I feel free to stick any pictures I love anywhere on the walls just because I want to be able to see them all the time (and take it away when I’ve had enough of it). It is full of tins, old books and toys I find everywhere.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. I organize myself with a pen and a paper – everything starts in my big blue notepad (they are always the same, I only change the colors of cover when I buy a new one). All my lifework is in there. I once threw one away by mistake, and had to have a look in the street paper recycling bin to find it… my neighbors thought I’d gone mad that day. When my notepad’s closed my workday is finished. Also shelves! Plenty of them – so that books, magazines etc. can stand vertically, instead of horizontally in piles. Filling the shelves with the books I love when moving in, it is always a great pleasure.
Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I use Skype everyday, it changed my way of working in team with other freelance graphic designers, they became kind of colleagues in a way!
When you were setting up your home office what did you keep in mind? When we moved into this house the ground floor walls, where I work now, were already covered with bookshelves which was ideal, and the former landlord had given us a beautiful old “double desk”. We just had to refresh the white paint, sit down, and work. We added a big old workshop table where I like to draw because it is far from the computer and a big “cat-approved” sofa to make the place warm and comfortable, friends are always welcome to sit down and have a drink and a biscuit.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? Honestly not really… I might need to find a place on the walls for a proper inspiration board to avoid flyers, articles and post cards everywhere, that’s all I am thinking of for the moment.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? My “gigantic” screen, I miss it when working away from home on my portable computer.
What would you change about your own workspace? My workspace is a bit dark in winter, I need better lighting.
What do you most love about your space? When the sliding glass windows are wide opened in spring and summer I feel like working outside and I love it.
What inspires you? I receive the Grain Edit newsletter every day. I love art and graphic design from the 50′s, I love the clear, simple and efficient style. I admire the way artistes use subtle and bright colors. Charley Harper is one of my favorite illustrator. I also admire japanese illustrators such as Yoshitomo Nara, for the same reasons I guess. Apart from this, I think that if you pay attention around you, everyday life is always very inspiring.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 26, 2010
Theo Rosendorf, author of “The Typographic Desk Reference,” is a design consultant whose client’s range from AT&T and Coca-Cola to Nintendo and Mercedes. Here he shares his home office.
How long have you worked from home? And where is home? Home is Atlanta Georgia, where I’ve worked as a graphic designer for just about twenty years. The bulk of my work has been as a consultant working out of my home office, though temporary stints commandeering client conference rooms is common. My company, Matador, takes an editorial approach to graphic design with a focus on typography for all media. By that I mean graphic design that starts with the content and works out to a finished product my clients can take to market. We do graphic design, but there’s a bit of writing to it as well. Some folks we’ve worked with: AT&T, Coke, IBM, ING, Mercedes AMG, Nintendo, and Time Warner.
Typography plays a major role in the practice beyond simply picking a font or knowing a particular brand’s guidelines. Every typeface has unique requirements in that it has to be set just so. It’s up to the graphic designer to understand what a particular typeface wants. We work within those bounds to let type communicate as it was intended. Everything else follows.
Being so enamored with type, I took time off from 2006 to 2009 to write The Typographic Desk Reference (TDR), a dictionary of typographic terms and form. The TDR’s in its third printing and we’re looking to start localized versions before long. At the moment, we’re on the hunt for a European publisher.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? Initially I’d have to say I don’t have a specific style. My work requires adapting an aesthetic to the company or product I work for. But it could be said I have a modernist aesthetic. I don’t do postmodern, but if a client wants it I have a stack of postmodernist resumes I can haphazardly pick through. That’s a joke… well sort of. Postmodernist clients usually call back in five years, wanting to trade for a modern approach. Overall I’d have to say my approach is typographic, which could be considered an aesthetic at times.
How do you keep your office organized? I’m thinking here of the physical space but also your computer. Are there any particular programs you find really useful? I have some Bouroullec Valise boxes I use to file work documents. For archiving print work, I use some very refreshing plain white (with no advertisements) file boxes from the Container Store. Larger work gets tube rolled.
I have a server which gets backed up redundantly. Network user accounts get backed up to the server automatically, so adding a new MacBook is just a matter of logging in to the server with it. My music is on the server too—all 100 days of it.
For project management I use the 37 Signals Basecamp and Highrise apps. Nothing is proprietary, so the logistics of working with talent in Osaka is the same for someone in Copenhagen, or my printer here in Atlanta.
When you were designing your home office what did you keep in mind? I start with a book called Human Dimension & Interior Space by Julius Panero and Martin Zelnik. After brushing up on a little physical anthropology, I get to work realizing the space. Designing a physical space is no different than graphic design or typography where size, proportion, and space are equally considered. I’d say well placed furniture makes for high performance, but more importantly a better quality of life.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you most enjoy? My Eames Soft Pad Group Executive chair. I’ve had it for ten years and it just gets better with age. It doesn’t wear out, it wears in. Second would come my Eames Oval Table. It’s the only desk I’ve had that, placed diagonally, functions error free. I’ve just started to break-in my Ikea Billy bookcases. We’ll see how that goes.
What is a desk accessory you can’t do without? Where does the accessory end and the tool start? What often find their way back to the desk are my Pantone fan books. These are what I’d consider desk accessories to keep color organized, lest I imagine there’d be loose color all over my desk.
As difficult as it is, I try to keep things off the desk. My sideboard drawers are filled with little fiddly stuff like pens, paperclips and whatnot. This is a “desk accessory” I can’t do without. Open one of these drawers and you’ll clearly hear the theme music to Sanford & Son.
Oh, and my Leica D-Lux 3 camera. Best camera I’ve owned.
What would you change about your own workspace? The office is just big enough to fit two people comfortably, so I’d make it bigger, add more open space, and a half kitchen. A chaise for naps would be nice. I’d also like it to be detached from the house to slightly de-blur the work/home aspect. While we’re at it, just make the whole thing aluminum and glass and resurrect Donald Judd to design it.
What do you most love about your space? The view of the backyard through the sliding glass. The windows let in lots of natural light which is ideal for reviewing proofs and picking colors. It’s also good for the eyes to focus on something far away after staring at the computer screen.
What inspires you? For work related inspiration I look outside of graphic design to architecture, industrial design, music, and literature. And nothing beats traveling to see how other people do things.
Balance, Design, Technology
May 26, 2010
5 years ago brand identity designer David Airey took the plunge and went freelance (the view below is from his Edinburgh, Scotland studio). This month he marked his 5th anniversary with 15 pieces of advice for those thinking of shifting gears and working from home. While the tips are certainly slanted to designers, there is lots of pertinent general advice so I thought I’d share the post in it’s entirety.
“This month brought with it my five-year anniversary as a self-employed graphic designer, so I’m taking the opportunity to offer 15 pieces of advice to those thinking of “going it alone.
1. Look at the big picture Creating a modern business plan will help you think through the hard issues.
2. Tell your friends and family about your self-employment You never know what contacts they might have. Those close to you will want to help.
3. You will lose potential clients because your pricing is too high But also because it’s too low. Whether you like it or not, the rates you set will immediately give others a perception about the quality of your design work.
4. Don’t stress about pricing Design pricing is something independent graphic designers struggle with at some point. The best way to learn is through experience, and remember, you can always negotiate your price down from your initial quote, but never up, so if in doubt aim high.
5. You will make mistakes We all do. Learn from them, and move on.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
April 12, 2010
Kate Bingaman-Burt lives in Portland, Oregon, and is a professor of graphic design in the Department of Art at Portland State University. She is also the author of a new book called Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today? which documents in ink drawings all the things she bought over a three-year period. Here we talk to Kate about her workspace and the joy of color.
First tell us about your workspace. I love making piles and I love surrounding myself with work from other people that I admire. My primary workspace is in the apartment that I share with my husband and dog. I take up a big section of our first floor with my drawing table and flat files. My workspace aesthetic is pretty eclectic, but mostly bright colors, found ephemera, and work from talented friends layered on top of each other. My personal aesthetic is one of excess and also of restraint. I like to make rules that I then follow to the extreme. I mostly draw in black pen, but my installations consist of bright colors, vintage fabric, and, well, piles!
Does anyone else use your home office? I am the sole user.
How do you organize the space? Not very well. My flat files give the illusion of being organized. The piles are colorful, but in the end, they are still piles.
What impact do you think color has on a workspace? HUGE. White walls drive me insane. I make work that is BRIGHT, FUN, RIDICULOUS! My drawings are all black and white, but the rest is, well, over the top on purpose. I like using candy colors and hyperactive patterns to correlate to the craziness of consumerism. These are also pretty accessible to a lot of different viewers, too — kind of like consumerism. I am always exploring different color palettes; this decorative side of my work is really fun for me, since the other side is more concept based.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? My hot pink stapler. My cups and cups filled with pens.
Is there a piece of furniture you’d love to replace? I would love to replace the table top of my desk. It is just a piece of MDF covered with a sheet of dry-erase board. It is easy enough to replace…I just haven’t gotten around to it. I love the structure of my desk. I love sitting high, having a large surface area and a large space for storage underneath.
Is there anything you’d change about your space? I wish that I had a door. Living with your work has definite benefits, but I sometimes wish that I had a door to close. Eventually!
What or who inspires you? Big permission-givers to me have been: David Byrne, Tibor Kalman, M. Sasek, Saul Steinburg, Ray and Charles Eames, Joseph Beuys, Walls of Sound (Galaxie 500, Deerhunter — music that fills up and overwhelms and how to translate that into artwork), Fluxus, and Zine Culture to name a few. Also: yard sales, thrift stores, objects that look like a designer didn’t design them, and teaching my rad students.
What was the last thing you bought? An iced Americano from the cafe downstairs!
Photography by Anthony Georgis
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
March 2, 2010
Caroline De Vita is a talented graphic designer, illustrator, painter and mother of two. She doesn’t have a lot of spare time. She does have an enviable home office custom built by her husband. We caught her during a rare break to talk about all the ins and outs of working from home.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I’ve worked from home for about 12 years. My home now is in a little house in Los Angeles’ Westside city of Mar Vista, and I’m working out of a 200 square foot office my husband built for me in our backyard when I was pregnant with our first child.
What does an average work day involve? After walking home from dropping off my son at preschool, I make coffee while my computer starts up, check emails, make phone calls and start whatever jobs I’m currently working on. I am usually starving my 12:00, so I take a quick lunch and get back to work until 4:30, when I pick the kids up. If I have a deadline, I work remotely from a computer in the house while fixing dinner and watching the kids, 3 and 5. I pop back into the office after the kids are in bed if I still have work to finish.
Is there any form of technology that really inspires you and helps you in your work? I love my Wacom writing tablet. I illustrate as well as design, so it’s very useful for line drawings. It has a pressure sensitive pad, so I can manipulate the line weights to look like I’m using a japanese brush. My scanner is useful and inspiring because I scan just about anything I find, paper, leaves–anything, manipulate it and use it as a texture in my illustrations or as a graphic in my design work, and sometimes I just prefer to write or draw with a japanese pen or calligraphy pen on paper so I need to scan those into Photoshop.
As a graphic designer you’ve got multiple clients – large and small. How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space? This is probably not the best solution, but for virtual organization, I use Entourage Calendar to remind myself through pop up ‘reminders’ of due dates, etc. For physical organizing, I have a small rolling file next to my desk with files for each client. Anything that has to do with a particular job I’m working on goes into that client’s folder, no matter what it is. Every month I go through the rolling file and take out whatever jobs are finished and put into my ‘deep file’ cabinet on the other side of the office, to make room for upcoming jobs.
What item from your desktop can you not do without? Besides my computer, I can’t do without my drawing pad, brush pens and Uniball micro roller pen. Drawing and doodling helps free my mind of clutter and can sometimes inspire me.
What piece of office furniture do you love? Which would you like to replace? I love my old metal office desk and my Aeron Chair. The desk is the right size for me and I like how solid it is, the little bit of history behind it, and that I got my hands dirty taking care of refinishing it myself. I like the way my chair looks and how incredibly comfortable it is.
I don’t think there’s anything I’d like to replace, but I’d like to put up shelves on the wall to my right so I can easily see items that inspire me. Right now I have to turn around to look at my books and things I bought while traveling. I like warm things, like wood and clay.
What inspires you? Old, worn books, looking out my office window at our tall Australian paper bark trees, books I’m reading ….It really depends on where my head is at the time. Right now, I’m inspired by Shakespeare, Johnny Cash, Van Gogh, watching my 5-year old daughter draw her detailed, imaginative scenes, the intensity of playing in my Sunday soccer games!
January 28, 2010
Mark Giglio is an Oakland based freelance graphic designer who has worked with 2k by Gingham, Apple, Nike and Dwell, to name a few. Currently, he is working on a series of products under his studio label Pen Pencil Stencil. It includes pillows, wallpapers, t-shirts, and even wooden figurines inspired by Japanese Kokeshi Dolls. Recently, I had the opportunity of seeing Mark’s collection in person and to speak with him about his workspace.
How long have you been working from home? 8 years now. Before that I had been working at some really amazing design firms that helped inform me of what a great working environment can be like. I think I’ve taken a lot of that with me and it’s influenced a lot of how my space is now.
What do you like most about your space? That it’s my place to experiment and think. Also all of my favorite objects, books and personal projects are there. So it is very comforting to be there and work. It’s really nice to be surrounded by those things that inspire you. I often freelance on projects away from my studio and when I return it is the best feeling. It can’t be beat because it is my personal space.
Is there anything you would change about your workspace? I’d add about 1,500 square feet on it so I could have a place to print and also a small wood shop. That would be perfect. I really enjoy my small workspace a lot but I think it would be great to have the space to spread out a bit more to accommodate the other things I like to do. Something like the Eames office where they were creating such a diverse mix of things under one roof would be amazing.
What are some of your favorite objects in your studio? My most favorite object of all is the La Fonda del Sol menu I have that was designed by Alexander Girard. It’s such a great design piece. When I was given it I just stared in awe at the suns on the cover. I couldn’t believe what I was holding in my hands. I never thought in a million years they still existed. Then it just got better as I opened it up. It’s hard to beat those color combinations, they are really amazing.
Do you feel that your working environment has any influence over your work? I think it does. It keeps me motivated and inspired to keep on making things. Being in my studio is my favorite place to be. It’s were I go to have fun everyday.