You are passionate about design aiming to reach the top in your field, aren’t you? Every designer knows for sure how essential it is to work hard, stay tuned and gain more practical experience every single day to become a recognized expert in their field. If you’ve ever been searching for any design advice online or you are curious about the daily life and creative achievements of design gurus, now you have this opportunity with GT3 Themes.
Recently I had the pleasure to interview Ian Paget – a self-taught and highly skilled successful graphic designer whose fields of expertise include websites, illustration, mobile apps, identity/logo design and content writing. Ian has managed to build a strong personal brand and engage a great community of followers around his Logo Geek website. His design tips are considered to be extremely useful and entertaining.
So here we are! The exclusive interview of Ian Paget especially for our blog.
1. Will you please say a few words about yourself and your key fields of expertise?
“My names Ian Paget, I’m a graphic designer based in the UK.
I work full time as design director for an eCommerce design agency, where I work on anything visual from websites through to literature and exhibition stands.
In my personal time I run Logo Geek, where I’m designing logos. As part of this I also run a social media group where I create, curate and share the best logo design resources I can find. Logo design and branding has grown into a real passion, and is where I plan to focus my efforts long-term.
In the next month I’ll be transitioning to freelance, going part time in my day job to free up 2 days a week for my own projects. Initially I will start on logo design, making more of Logo Geek, but I also plan to work on illustration which is something I enjoyed in my early design career.”
2. I know that you were passionate about design since your childhood, But what was the “spark” that got you into design when you grew up?
“To be honest it was a case of being in the right place at the right time, and a gradual progression rather than a single moment. I’ll try to give a short version of the story.
I was really into art/design when I was at school, so after college (where I also studied art and design) I went in search for a ‘creative’ job and luckily I found something. I started as an assistant print finisher at an exhibition company where I was responsible for taking printed artwork and turning it into large exhibition stands. It didn’t take long to discover it wasn’t for me. I cut my finger badly, then had an accident on my little moped, and since I was only 18, lived at home (and had no way of getting to work) I decided to hand in my notice.
My friend got me an interview where he worked which was 10 minutes walk away. It was in a warehouse. I wanted to keep working so I took the job, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do. It turned out to be a good call, as my interview was with one of the senior managers, and I told her during the interview that I wanted to be a designer.
4 months into the job (which turned out to be pretty fun) I was offered a 3 week trial in the ‘product support and education team’. It was mainly an admin role (which was more my style), but included the occasional design related job. I found I was able to pick up the software quickly, was super ambitious, so ended up being given all the ‘design’ tasks, and less of the admin.
The company at that stage was paying a freelancer to design the companies literature. At that point the team would plan the brochures out, then the freelancer would finish everything off professionally. As I was learning quickly (I was watching tutorials at home) I was soon able to design my own literature to a standard that was print ready.
I was being paid peanuts, and the freelancer was expensive. Guess who got the opportunity of a lifetime cause of that? They stopped employing the freelancer, and I got more opportunities to design literature. Right place – right time. From that day on I’ve continued to develop as a designer, and learn ‘on the job’ – the best way to do it.”
3. Are there any people you are thankful for helping you progress in your field?
“Definitely. In that first job mentioned above I could never have created print ready artwork without help and guidance from Phil Ellis, the guy who was the head of the print company they used at the time. The company I worked for arranged 6 afternoon sessions with him, and he answered my long list of questions.
My current managers, Kurt and Diane have also taught me a lot. Not so much about design, but about online marketing and management. I would never have got Logo Geek to the point where it is now without their mentorship.
The design community is also incredible. There’s so many amazing blogs and books on design, and I’ve learned so much cause of it. David Aireys book ‘Work for Money, Design for Love’ was the first book that gave me the initial ‘kick’ to do my own thing, and I recommend every designer read it.”
4. Did you have some significant challenges on the path from a self-taught expert to a strong personal brand?
“Doing my own thing has been really cool. I never really planned to build my own personal brand in the way people know it today – it’s just been a little work every day, and I personally think I’m far off what I want it to be.
Logo Geek has grown quickly, and far bigger than I imagined possible. Having a day job, and coming home to more ‘work’ is hard. It’s caused some relationship issues, lots of stress, and cause of that I’ve considered pulling the plug on it a few times…
I never originally wanted to go freelance. I like security, but I’ve also wanted to keep working on Logo Geek. I’ve been torn between the two for a few years, and been a little stretched cause of it. I’m glad I’ve not given up though as based on your question the effort was worth it.
After a close family death I realised that you only live once, and I want no regrets… so I’m going for it. Lets see what happens! This will free me up, and allow me to focus on my passion, and my future in the process.”
5. Do you have some academic degrees you are really proud of?
“Sadly not no. I’m mostly self-taught. I learn primarily from observation, and reading from the masters.”
6. How did you come up with the idea to create Logo Geek?
“I worked on a personal iPhone game project that lasted 4 years. It was fun, but a tad draining by the end of it. I wanted to keep working on something, but liked the idea of having short-term projects instead.
My partner suggested I work on logo design as it was something she thought I had a natural talent for. It was a good suggestion as I would be able to work on a project for a few weeks, then have a break for a while – plus it was an area of design I really enjoyed and was keen to learn more about.”
7. Have you got a large team? What tasks do they perform?
“For the past few years it’s just been me – I think I’ve been holding back it’s growth due to fear of failure.
In the past 2 weeks (after my decision to go freelance) my partner has been doing my admin, helping me respond to enquiries so I can do more of the design work. I pay her a percentage of the sales she brings in. It’s helped a lot…”
8. Will you please share a piece of advice for modern freelance designers on becoming an industry authority?
“Social media is the best tool we have. We can reach almost anyone we can imagine. As we’re the first generation to use it, and no end in sight of it going anywhere, the long-term potential is huge.
I get asked a lot, so I documented my process here: http://logogeek.uk/logo-geek-news/become-a-twitter-influencer/ I now use CrowdFire within my process, which is only briefly mentioned here. Buffer has been a fundamental tool.
Find a niche then use social media every day, focusing on growing a community by curating content around your niche. Create good relevant content, and get to know influencers in your space who can help you get it out there. You’ll get a name for yourself, and will start to be invited to write for others. Try to create more than you consume.
Don’t miss a day. It’s hard work, but worth it. After a few years you’ll start to see the impact, and you’ll never look back.”
Our team is very thankful for Ian Paget to give our readers a unique opportunity to find inspiration for creativity. We’re always pleased to provide you with the best knowledge, experience and useful stuff on web design ever.