Designer Interview: Illustrator & Graphic Designer Simon C. Page (Part II)

May 4, 2011

Designer Interview: Illustrator & Graphic Designer Simon C. Page (Part II)

Design, simoncpage, interview

If you missed Part I of our Interview with Simon C. Page, be sure to catch up. In the second half of our feature, Simon shares some valuable advice for freelance newbies, wannabies and seasoned vets alike.

Simon is an up-and-coming graphic designer and illustrator from the UK, who caught design fever while designing corporate presentations for his previous, mathematics-related job.

DDO: You have a huge collection of personal projects. How do you balance personal projects with client work?

Simon: I only take on a few projects that I get offered and generally only the ones I think I will enjoy. Therefore I can spread out the client work and personal work quite well. I like to have a couple of weeks in between client work to do personal work, on average.

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: What is your dream design/illustration project?

Simon: A couple of things last year came close to being dream projects. First up, Google commissioned me for some work which ended with them offering me a job - I would have loved to work for Google, but moving to America didn't fit at the time. The other one was an offer to join the Disney agency working on the Tron Legacy movie. I didn't take this offer up either, but again, it would have been a lot of fun.

Simon: This year I actually have my dream project lined up for an album cover design for an electronic band that I have been a massive fan of for a while - so am looking forward to that one.

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: It seems lately that retro is the new modern, but the colors and textures in your designs stand out from the many. Can you talk a bit about your process in conceptualizing and refining a design? Why do you enjoy the retro style?

Simon: I generally just experiment with textures and colours until I find something that I am happy with - it is almost like a jigsaw where I am just trying to find where all the pieces slot in.

What I enjoy about the retro style is being able to design something that people can't initially tell when it was created - making something that is truly believable as retro is really exciting like that.

Design, simoncpage, interview

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: That question also hints at technique. How would you suggest new and experienced designers develop/advance techniques?

Simon: Get into the habit of creating your own textures and experiment with them in your work.

Try not to fall into the habit of using the same sort of texture for all your work, and try to mix them up so they look and feel a bit different each time.

The most important thing is to make sure the design works on it's own before you work in colours, texture or anything else - I see too many poor designs that have a texture or colouring added to mask a poor execution.

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: What is your favorite design tool (analog or digital)?

Simon: Illustrator - the only tool I couldn't live without.

Design, simoncpage, interview

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: How do you start your day to prepare for design and illustration work?

Simon: Same as many probably, I spend a couple of hours on the internet catching up on news, emails, twitter, etc., and then I will look through my to-do list for the day / week and begin cutting it down.

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: If you walked into your local coffee shop, what would you order?

Simon: Peppermint Tea.

Design, simoncpage, interview

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: Do you have any advice for designers who want to start or make the move to freelancing?

Simon: Yep plenty although some is universal...

-Always carry a notepad as you never know when you are going to be hit with inspiration, and it's important to be able to capture the idea there and then.

-Make sure you name your digital files well and organise them well too - can't remember the number of times I have had to trawl though my hard drives trying to find work which at the time I didn't name well.

- Make sure you backup your work constantly - working on your live work with a service like Dropbox means you have it backed up, you can sync work across a laptop and workstation seamlessly and you can share files with clients or printers.

- Read books as they will really enhance your knowledge and give you more ammo for projects.

- For the first year or so of freelancing you will probably make work that you don't like or that you think could be better. We all do this, and after a while this will improve, but you need to keep at it and be persistent. Always strive to make the work the best you can, and it will pay off.

- Experiment - never stop trying new things or techniques - it is where you will find your best work.

- Socialise on a platform like Twitter with other designers, but don't just follow other designers. Follow a few people who aren't designers to mix it up and give you a broader scope.

- Set yourself up on a good portfolio platform like Flickr, Cargo Collective or the Behance network, and make sure you keep them regularly updated with all your work - I'm very much in the camp of showing off all your ideas and giving explanations behind them rather then just showing off a couple of your best bit - clients like to see that you have more than just a couple of good ideas and you spend time researching.

- Find a way to relax - personal favourites are walks on a beach or playing computer games. But it's important to be able to relax and let your mind wander, as again, this all helps the creative process.

- Create yourself a "brand," be it your name or a catchy company name and slogan. I started off just with my name Simon C Page and a basic logo and only recently created Excites (slogan: Good design excites) as a dedicated place for my artwork, and this made a big impact on the quality of the work offers I receive. Also with this, make sure you have a well designed business card, and make sure you give them out - money well-spent.

- Make sure you use a good email platform like Gmail and that you can access these emails on a mobile. It's important to reply to clients quickly and show that you are reliable.

Design, simoncpage, interview

DDO: Anything else?

Simon: Get a cat, if you haven't already, as they are great for making sure you don't work too hard.

Design, simoncpage, interview

Thank you, Simon, for taking the time to talk with us! You can visit Simon and see more of his work at Excites, his personal brand, and at his blog Much of Simon's work is available for purchase as prints at the Excites Shop.

Some other posts you might enjoy on our design blog:

Seesaw Designs

Interview: Tim Pilsbury - Interior Car Design

Interview: Andrew A. 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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Sr. UI Designer / Palo Alto, CA, US

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