Today, we are joined by Jonas Nullens , he is a Graphic Designer. You can view his portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
No problem, I’m honored to be asked for an interview. Actually it’s my first. (smiles) My interest in illustration & graphic design in general started when I was a little boy. I enjoyed going to an artclass every Wednesday doing creative stuff. However while I got older and had to go to college, I chose to study economics. (under some pressure from my parens) Not that bad of a decision as I got to know economics. But my keen interest in design kept me many nights awake self-teaching Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. After college I chose to go for a masters degree in Master of Arts. Best 4 years of my life where I can honestly say I learned a lot! Now I can say I’m an average Belgium guy who enjoys what he does and gets money for it too.
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
As I said before, getting my Master of Arts degree at the MAD-faculty in Genk (Belgium), helped me unfold my skills. I got to know the Adobe software even better and learned how to think as a creative. Likewise, knowing your software influences your skill-set in a positive way. Faster designing means more time for trying out new stuff. The idea for creating a few icon sets are the a result of trying out some new stuff I had never done before. Turns out I did well.
What does your creative process look like?
I usually start with some really ugly sketches and random words on a piece of paper which I don’t even dare calling a mind-map. With this piece of paper in front of me I start making a decent mind-map which will serve as a red wire throughout my project. After that it’s inspiration-time aka ‘random internet surfing’. I gather some design inspiration and let this fry in my brain for a few nights. When the design finally pops up in my mind I go straight to my software and start the design. Combined with the casual panic attack many f**** are given and I end up with my design.
So in short Ugly sketches → mind-map → inspiration → fried brain → start design → madness → finished design.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
As much as I appreciate good books about design with adorable covers, I must say I mostly use the world wide web. There are so many great websites with a lot of info and imagery right at your hand-palm. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to just go try and participate to see which suits you best. Mines are Behance and Dribbble. For programs I like the Adobe software a lot. Especially Illustrator, Photoshop, In-design and Fireworks. When you are starting to get the hang of these programs, I do recommend searching for extra plug-ins and/or tools to help speed up your work-flow. A lot of them are available for free on the adobe website.
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
I don’t know if beer is an object but it definitely helps clear the fuel lines for my creative drive. laughs) No I’m just kidding, I do have a special object. A quite large one even. Since I was a child I’ve been madly in love with american muscle cars. When I got 18 years old, which is 6 years ago, I bought myself a 1988 Chevrolet Camaro. Not really the definition of a true muscle car but it (still) serves me as a daily without problems. Driving that car helps me clear my mind when I’m stuck or feeling empty-minded. It gives me that extra bit of ‘go’, every day.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
A productive day starts with a fresh shower and a cappuccino coffee. Finishing and/or starting multiple projects on a day is what I call a productive day. Of course this depends on the size of a project. But working as a web-designer in a company during the day and working for myself in the evening makes me productive right? I do have to admit I work better after 20.00h as I’m kind of a night-owl, but don’t tell my boss.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
I’ve accepted some remote design work and I must say it’s kind of the same as accepting work with clients, except for the distance. The reason why I think it’s similar is because every designers sends out countless of mails to various clients each day. Someone a 1000 miles far away is also only 1 mail away. For intake conversations there’s also various chatting and even video chat programs which enable a designer to have a decent meeting with a client. Same goes for paying online. It might seem hard to get all of this set up, but it really isn’t. At least not anymore in this ever growing online world we live in nowadays.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
As I stated before, I’m kind of doing both. Although 75% of my day time goes into a paying job in a local agency and 25% goes into my own work. I can’t really say what’s more stressful, because I like doing both. Though I think there’s a still big imaginary rainy cloud on doing freelance work and I get why some designers would rather not do it. There can be some trouble with agreements and paying, but that also happens in companies, rest assure. I guess it’s what you like doing?
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
The ideal project for me would go smooth from beginning to start. A motivated me, a curious client and a great intake conversation which springs a lot of ideas in both me and client would the best start. After that it should go without too many turns and twists right to the end in a fairly short period. Resulting in a happy me and an even more happy client. Did I ever come close to this? No, not in my opinion. At-least not with clients. Personal work is a bit different because you can get an idea, set goals, start designing and finish a project. My recent ‘eight line icon sets’ went a little like that.