Designer and Student Interview: Tim Belonax

July 19, 2011

Designer and Student Interview: Tim Belonax

Time Belonax is a once design student, professional designer, again student with a beautiful and impressive portfolio. He gathered up his design expertise and experiences and went back to hit the books for his MFA in graphic design at the California Institute of the Arts. He was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions, and even provided some bonus design resources and recommendations. Read his insights and see works from his portfolio below.

Design, belonax, interview

Preface: Each answer has an additional piece of media (video, book, essay, etc.) to augment Tim's response. "Think of it as the prize for making it through each answer." -Tim B.

What were you up to before you returned to school to get your MFA? Could you give us a brief bio of yourself?

Born & bred Californian
BFA, Rhode Island School of Design
Design Fellow, Chronicle Books
Member, Project M
Designer, MINE
Man of many words

**My favorite childhood book was The Giver by Lois Lowry

Design, belonax, interview
Design, belonax, interview

What influenced your decision to return to school, and what do you hope to achieve there?

I get this question a lot. It's a tricky one that I think everyone answers differently. The short answer is: I'm in graduate school to challenge and enrich what I've come to know and practice as a graphic designer.

**De Bono's Thinking Course was recommended to me by John Bielenberg, of Project M. It's a great book for breaking out of a rut, even if you don't think you're in one.

Design, belonax, interview
Design, belonax, interview

Who or what has influenced your design style and aesthetic?

My greatest influences in graphic design are my professors, personal mentors and former work colleagues. Too numerous to name, these individuals continue to enrich my life.

**This Eye Magazine article, recommended to me by two of my professors (Lorraine Wild and Stuart Smith), relates to some of my thoughts on aesthetic influences.

When not being designerly, what is your favorite thing to do?

I'm a big advocate of physical exercise. I've always been active in sports, since I was a little kid. It helps clear my head and offsets the hours spent in front of a computer screen.

**Recommendation: Go outside!

Design, belonax, interview

Where are some of your favorite places to find inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere, but I'd say the most consistent place is within a bookstore. I could probably walk into any bookstore and be content for quite a while.

**The last bookstore I visited was Green Apple Books on Clement in SF.

Design, belonax, interview
Design, belonax, interview

Where is your favorite place in the world (if it's not a closely guarded secret?)

Anywhere that I'm with friends. I could be in the worst place, but friends make it all better. San Francisco is a close second.

**Favorite SF diner: It's Tops

What advice would you give to young or practicing designers to improve their skills and work?

I'm going to assume some broad generalities to answer this question: Young designers simply need more experience, in life and in design. Practicing designers need to stay hungry.

**Milton Glaser had some great advice that I think applies to both genre of designers.

Design, belonax, interview
(Poster done in collaboration with fellow MFA student, Thea Lorentzen)

Personal Logo, or no?



Any pets?

I personally don't have any pets, but my life is full of them. I live with my room mates two cats, Sha-diamond Snipe and Precious Plumber. They're sisters, all black with white paws.

When I was visiting my parents one Christmas, we rescued a stray Shiba Inu/German Shepard mix. After multiple attempts to find the owner, my parents took him in permanently. His name is Brody. And my brother and his wife have a Daschund named Maggie (after Maggie on The Simpsons).

**I will pet just about any dog I see. Seriously.

Design, belonax, interview

What is important to you in a workspace?

The people. I've had the opportunity to work in a number of different situations, (from basements to high-rises, a half-built bunkhouse and a converted warehouse) in places that I may have had reservations about in the beginning. In the end, those concerns were greater positive motivators than negative.

**Organizing Genius is a book about great groups in history and how they worked together. The authors insights on workspace confirm some of my thoughts.

Absolutely anything else you would like to add, design related or otherwise?

"Believe in things and they will believe in you."

Design, belonax, interview

Thanks for talking with us Tim, and for all of the additional resources you shared! Best of luck and learning in grad school.

Some other hand-picked posts you might enjoy on our Design Blog:

The Work of Wim Crouwel: Exhibition and Interview
Designer Interview with Illustrator and Designer Simon S. Page: Part I
Interview: Andrew Soria - Motion Graphics

Jessica Patterson

Jessica Patterson

Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm a Designer and Writer at Drawbackwards and write for the Design Blog at I enjoy vintage things, letterpress, publication design, and long walks around the Cesar Chavez Park pond. You can follow me on twitter at @jessdoodled for lots of fun randomness.

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