The Summer Interview Series continues this week with Mig Reyes, a designer and self-proclaimed cookie eater from Chicago. He’s now two years out of college, and has already worked at some amazing design studios such as Rule29 and Segura, Inc. After a stint at an ad agency, he realized that just wasn’t for him. Now he has found a home “within the confines of awesome,” creating for the web at the best t-shirt company in the worldâ€”Threadless.
Humble Pied is such a great resource for students and young professionals…but…why Pie? With you being such a cookie man, why not, say, Smart Cookie?
I’m definitely into cookies, but Humble Pied wasn’t so much a kitschy name as it is an actual reference to a slang term for humility. As young designers, it’s easy to caught up in our early successes and build an ego. To eat the humble pie is to be taught humility, something I think every growing designer needs to practice more. With Humble Pied, I wanted to curate and archive bits of honest advice that will ultimately help inspire and nurture fledgling creative types.
The Show and Tell Show is a great (free!) program for Chicago designers. Everyone has a favorite show and tell experience as a kid: what’s yours?
Without a doubt, I was (probably still am) a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I went home with a fairly good report card, so parents got me the Technodrome. My mind was blown: it was the coolest playset on the marketâ€”I had to show everyone. Fast forward to now: it was a huge honor to be a guest on Mike and Zach’s Show and Tell Show, sharing my early experiences with Threadless and a passion project I had in the works. Keep a look out, though. I may or may not be playing a role in The Show ‘n Tell Show now, and I hear there’s some exciting things planned for it!
Merge, AIGA Chicago Mentorship program, AIGA Social Media Liaison…I’m sensing a theme here. Share your thoughts on the importance of making connections and how social media is affecting our profession.
I credit most of my success in my career to the mentors and peers I’ve met along the way. That being said, I also disagree with the way people consider traditional “networking.” I once wrote about how I felt about it, and presented this idea at the HOW Conference. Simply put, networking is bullshit. I always sought to make friends and build relationships, not add contacts and swap business cards. Bevel-Emboss and Merge were events setup to help people meet people who are passionate. I’m involved in Dawn Hancock’s AIGA Mentorship program to pay my experiences forward.
For those of us that missed the HOW Conference this year, give us 3 things (either from your presentation or others) that everyone should know.
The general vibe I got from this year’s (really great) HOW Design Conference in Denver was that you need to capitalize on your passions and do what makes you happy now, not later. Mike Perry offered to everyone that you need to just “Make Stuff.” In my presentation, I touched on how inspiration is temporary, so when you have the itch to pursue a potentially great ideaâ€”do it! I could pitch to you this idea I have for a “place to store a bunch of video interviews,” or I could actually act on the idea and make something like Humble Pied. People talk about real projects and things that are tangible. A designer I met out there, Laura Sanders, also doodled some notes from my presentation.
You love to experiment with type: what are you working on now?
I’m actually still experimenting with bringing proper typography to the web. I relish moments when I can figure out hanging punctuation or small caps on the web. I also have a few experiments that I plan on turning into a series, like the illustrated Lego typography and the Google Maps typography.
All images Â© Mig Reyes
This post is the first in what I hope will be a series of interviews with designers and other professionals across the creative industries. Jason Schwartz of Bright Bright Great was nice enough to not only speak with me for the AIGAKC blog, but also answer a few extra questions (including last week’s Exclusive) to kick off this new series…AND if that were n0t enough, he created an awesome Goodie Bag for you to download. To access, simply click on the image below to get to the drop.io site for this download and then click on the platform you wish to download. He’s created a handful of wallpapers for not only your desktop, but also the iPhone and PalmPre! A HUGE thanks to Jason for sharing!
So without further ado, Jason’s Exclusive Goodie Bag:
At Bright Bright Great, Iâ€™ve dropped a lot crazy downloads like desktop wallpaper, iPhone wallpaper, mixtapes and other various goodies. I created some exclusives for you guys that are only going to be offered here and now.
You’ve said that design is more than a 9-5 job and more than makingÂ things “look pretty.” Describe your design philosophy.
Design is my lifestyle.
Functionally, graphic design cannot end at â€œmaking something pretty.â€ Think of all the way-finding projects and consumer packaging fiascoes that could go down if the end goal was just to be pretty and not functional. Design fundamentally is set to solve problems. Taking a totally unusable website with an awful user experience and throwing a pretty shell on it wonâ€™t actually solve the problem that it is unusable.
Good design solves problems. That being said, bad design creates problems.
I come from an industrial design background, so I approach all my projects as product design first long before getting into the aesthetics. I spend a good deal of time solving technical issues on paper long before I put my pixel on the screen. My sketchbook is a very valuable component to my design bag of tricks.
Beyond my 9-5 job, design encompasses a lot of where I spend my time. I am constantly looking for design inspirations, spending time working on additional creative projects as well as hanging out with designers talking shop. Design to me isnâ€™t my job, itâ€™s something that I like to be involved with.
With having a full-time job, how do you find the creative energy to keep designing on your own time?
I just try to focus on projects that allow me to continue to grow creatively. For me, my creative energy is more than how much I can accomplish between 9-5. At night and on the weekends (basically anytime Iâ€™m not at my work desk), I spend a lot of effort working to building brands, and marketing projects that Iâ€™ve already established.Â However, that being saidâ€¦ sometimes I just need to drop a mixtape, or throw some desktop wallpaper out on my Twitter.
Outside of BBG, I try to get involved with a lot of non-traditional design projects, or experiences. A few months ago, I had the chance to participate with a Nickelodeon illustrator named Ana Benaroya in a Coudal Partners Layer Tennis match. This was probably the most draining creative experience Iâ€™ve had in a while, but super fun and totally worth it. If you arenâ€™t familiar with Layer Tennis, the premise is similar to actual tennis. One person starts designing a comp, which is passed to an opponent every 15 minutes until 10 â€œvolleysâ€ have occurred. It was seriously fun, but after my last volley I wanted to pass out. I was sweaty, my hands hurt, it was like I just ran a marathon.
Stressful or not, the entire experience was great and actually gave me some insights into my own design strategies because I got to see them under a microscope. It gave my friends and family an opportunity to see me creatively compete.
I also just had the opportunity to volunteer with Firebelly Design in Chicago for their yearly Camp Firebelly. (If you donâ€™t know what it is, you should definitely read about it. I get seriously pumped when I hear about non-traditional creative opportunities like this. I heard about the camp last year and although it turned out I was a little bit old to apply as a â€œcamper,â€ I immediately volunteered my time to help out as a working professional. The camp was absolutely refreshing and an opportunity for me to get out of my normal box and work on something totally different with an entirely new team. Stuff like this keeps me on my toes.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. 24 hours a day. Every place I go.
Sometimes when Iâ€™m walking down the street, I will stare at a billboard for 10 straight minutes because it is really nicely done. To people passing by, I must look entranced or something, but I am fully appreciating the billboard. It really pissed car dealers off when I go into their dealerships just to take the printed materials. Ha, yeah they donâ€™t like that. I donâ€™t even try to hide it anymore, I just walk in and say, â€œcan I take this?â€ and walk out.
It is really important to start to recognize what inspires you because there is a lot of information out there. You just need to know where to look.
How did Bright Bright Great get its start?
That is as much of a love story as it is business story. Haha, this is going to sound shady. It’s not, I promise.
About 5 years ago, I was freelance designing in Chicago under the name Butter Flavored Design. Yes, there is still a site up, but it links to my current web entities. PS, the current layout was done as a dare by Jocelyn Ibarra (Bright Bright Great’s other managing partner) who dared me to make a haunted website. Voila!
Anyways, I was working in Chicago as a graphic designer working on a few projects, one of those being Mixfriends Mixtapes. The premise behind Mixfriends was to connect people all over the world to trade themed mixtapes. Jocelyn found the site and emailed me totally out the blue because she thought it was an awesome idea.
We started talking via email and realized that we had a lot in common. We started working on some design projects together and really hit it off. At the time, Jocelyn was running a design agency called Burrobala Designworks in Monterrey, Mexico. She came to visit a few times and really liked Chicago. A few months later, she packed up and moved to Chicago!
We started Bright Bright Great and everything else is history.
So yesterday, I just posted my interview with Jason Schwartz of Chicago’s Bright Bright Great for AIGA/KC. I’m excited to announce that I will be posting an exclusive interview with Jason complete with downloadable goodies this coming week! Just to give you all a teaser, here’s a continuation of our conversation from AIGA/KC’s Blog.
How does social media affect your hiring process when you look to fill a position?
Social media is seriously the bomb.
Itâ€™s the best way to get connected to people, job prospects, fellow designers, or companies.
I am a total proponent of social media. I try to be involved with as many sites as I can, as well as keep Bright Bright Great plugged in. Staying involved is a great way to stay connected to your community, whether it is friends, family, coworkers, designers, or whoever you want to follow.
With sites like Twitter, you can really create your dream team to follow. The way I work my Twitter account is that I follow people who I admire. I follow creatives, friends, companies, local designers, and even celebrities. I recommend following people that are succeeding in whatever industry you are aspiring to be in. My follow list consists of designers/business peeps like Johnny Cupcakes (@JohnnyCupcakes), Jake (@skaw) and Jeff (@jeffrey) from Threadless, NoPattern (@nopattern), and HelloHikimori (@hellohikimori). I also follow design blogs, and companies in the design communities like Firebelly (@firebellydesign), HF&J (@H_FJ) and Hype for Type (@hypefortype) font foundries. It allows me to stay up to date with news and design related stories about people I care about.
Social media is also a great way to open dialog with people you want to talk to, but donâ€™t have the opportunity to. Recently, I interviewed Alex Haigh from Hype For Type on the Bright Bright Great blog, which totally happened because I started talking to them on Twitter about playing Hangman. Twitter is a level playing field as well. Everyone can tweet, retweet, and direct message. No one has special Twitter powers. You never know who is listening, itâ€™s worth a shot.
For an applicant, social media is a crazy useful tool. Before applying, spend some time searching for a company and what the profiles of itâ€™s employees look like. This goes even further for designers. You can find links to designerâ€™s websites and browse their work. Sneaky? Yep.
Iâ€™ve gone on an interview where before stepping in the front door I knew the favorite fonts and design inspirations of itâ€™s entire creative staff. You think thatâ€™s valuable? You bet, when you are trying to find something common to talk about.
Similarly, It works on the reverse. Iâ€™m sure people search me and see what Iâ€™m talking about. I would put money down that a crazy picture of me from Halloween, or at a party has made it into some interview discussions. And Iâ€™m ok with that. I put pictures up on the web because I want people to learn something about me.
I had a recent applicant to Bright Bright Great first send me a traditional application via snail mail, but then he friended me as a contact on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and Behance. His paper samples made an impression, but seeing his work online showed me dozens of other projects that were super strong and didnâ€™t make the cut for his sample book.
It canâ€™t hurt to stay social and be connected to the community. Consider it a new technology tool to get your voice heard.
We are half-way through the Camp Firebelly workshops, and this is probably the first chance I have had for some down time since we began working. I am really excited on how our main project is coming along. As I mentioned in my last post, we have been working with Radio Arte (old site), a non-profit Latino radio station that trains youth in journalism and radio-broadcasting. I was lucky enough to get pared with an awesome team to work on the website, which has resulted in several very late nights, some new friendships, and a redesign of the site that I can’t wait to share.
We were also lucky enough to get pared with Jason Schwartz of Bright Bright Great for this project. Aside from just being a generally fun and entertaining guy, Jason has been an awesome mentor: I learned so much about webdesign from our two days working with him. You really need to check out his write up of the experience over on the Bright Bright Great blog. Hilarious. (Check out the rest of Kyle La Mere’s photos from that day.)
Next up: adventures in coding. (at least on this project…)
Well, I had a special post planned for this, but then the internet at our apartment went on the blink this past week. (I promise to post it in the near future.) Anyways, in my last post, I mentioned being rather excited for June 22, and now I’ll tell you why: today was the first day of Camp Firebelly. (You may even remember me writing about last year’s Camp.) We are just wrapping up our first day of the workshop, and already I am stoked for the rest of the week. Our mission: to work with a local non-profit public radio station to develop their website, promotional posters, and redesign their broadcasting studio. After meeting with the client today, I have to say that their passion is rather catching. I’ll share more of our experience as I can. In the meantime, you can watch the webcam (a la Real World) over on the Camp Firebelly site. We’ll also be blogging and tweeting live.
When I was laid off a couple of months ago, there were about 14 people who lost their job during that round of layoffs. After commiserating over coffee for a bit, we immediately started sharing resources. There’s nothing like hard times to bring people together. For my part, I offered to create business cards free of charge for anyone who needed them. So far, two people have taken me up on my offer, with a third in the works. Above are the two cards I created: if you know anyone in need of a PR consultant or Executive Support, I know two highly qualified and amazing ladies to recommend.
Of course, it was also an excellent opportunity to update the existing design to my own card:
Once I run out of my recycled stash, I’ll be passing these babies out. A very special thanks goes out to Jeannette over at Burns Printing who did her part to make these cards possible. Without her help, we’d all be reduced to writing our numbers on napkins. Ha!
Well, I feel horrible for neglecting my blogs of late: both here and my entries over at Stickers and Donuts. (Sorry, Maria!!) To tell you the truth, between blogging, starting a personal twitter, and keeping up AIGA KC’s twitter, Facebook, and Linked-In pages, I’ve just gotten a bit overwhelmed on the social media front. So this past week I (inadvertently) cut back, but I think I’m getting back into the swing of things.
On the whole, this was for a good cause. I spent the better part of the last month gearing up for the Grand Re-Launch of a new blog series on AIGA KC’s blog. Last week I launched it with a tour of our national offices: AIGA’s National Design Center in New York City. While job-hunting there last month, I was able to set up a tour with George Fernandez who is in charge of Membership. I was also able to meet both Jennifer Bender (who heads up the Social Networking Task-Force that I am a part of) and Lydia Mann for a lunch to discuss social media tactics for AIGA. This week’s post in the Series (I’ve yet to come up with a good name…) is an interview with Michael Bierut of Pentagram. Head over there and check it out. Next week, I’ll be posting Part One of my interview with Brand New‘s Armin Vit of UnderConsideration. We had an excellent chat during my trip to NYC: so much so, that I’ll have at least two posts out of our discussion once I’ve finished transcribing it.
I just saw that my recycled business cards I posted about last week are currently featured on The Design Cubicle! Brian held a call for entries for his post on 50 Creative Business Cards of 50 Graphic Designers, and mine was chosen as one of them! I’m in excellent company too: among them is former classmate, Colin Wright. Check out the article for some great business card inspiration.
I’m planning a job-hunting trip to New York City later this week, and realized that I was lower on business cards than I thought I was. In a way, the timing is perfect as I’m in the process of updating my cards and printing them along with the cards I’m designing for several people who were laid off at the same time I was. (We’re ganging up the print job to keep costs low, and I’ve given discounts on the design to everyone in exchange for leads on freelance work.) On the down side, the new cards won’t be done in time for the trip this week.
In the spirit of going green, I figured this was an excellent time to recycle the first batch of business cards I ever made. While a sophomore in college, our class printed business cards together. I never used them. I loved the design, but the cards quickly became out of date. The next semester, Southwest Missouri State became Missouri State University leaving me with a huge stack of cards featuring a now-defunct email address. A little bit of craftiness, some Avery labels, and a photo-magenta ink cartridge later, they now look like this:
Not bad, eh? I’m glad to finally be able to use the old cards, and am happy with how they turned out. Consider them a limited edition and be sure grab one for yourself when you see me!
A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about how busy you suddenly get once you’ve been laid off. Seriously, where does the time go?? I feel like I’m busier now that I was when I was working full-time AND freelancing on the weekends. So it’s been really hard to adjust my routine, and I get scared every time I open my feedreader and see the number of blog posts that are unread. That said, the craziness is most likely due to the fact that we have 15 people coming into town this weekend to prepare for.
But on to what you are here for: links! And as job-hunting is on my mind, career advice is on the slate for today.
I can’t believe I’ve never posted about Never Sleep! It really should have made either Fall Booklist or Fall Booklist 2 because it’s been on my booklist for a looong time. In any case, Thinking for a Living has been posting essays from the book, so now that I’m poor, I’ve been reading them as they come out. Sweet! It’s mostly geared towards college grads, but many have solid advice for anyone.
I’ve also really been enjoying Kevin Fullerton’s blog, Springboard 501. In it, he advises college students on how to look for a job in a creative field, but once again, I found the advice helpful for anyone. Particularly the article I mentioned in Monday’s post and this one on following your connections to the end (meaning a job).
Dream Job vs Any Job?
A post on HOW’s blog led me to this thread, which gave me food for thought to build off of what Kevin said in his post on Long-Term Job Hunting I referred to above. Personally, I’d like to have my cake and eat it too…and by that I mean the chance to work on some ideas tossing around the back of my head while living in the city I’d like to live in. Btw, HOW also had a great little post on Finding the Silver Lining: Resources for This Economy.
Speaking of ideas in the back of my head, this book might come in useful. I’ve been wanting it for a while, but after reading this review on The Designer’s Review of Books, I’m seriously considering putting my gift cards toward it. (or maybe my kool-aid points from Jupiter…)
I feel like there were other links I read this week, but do you think I can find them? Nope. If I do, I’ll be sure to post! Cheers!