One Minute With…
Hi Evan, thanks for taking time to chat with One Minute With. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
I’m a designer living in Madison, Wisconsin and working at Planet Propaganda. My portfolio is your typical mix of illustrative, interactive, branding, and traditional design work. I also like to write short stories and terrible jokes.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Evan Stremke.
I wake up every morning at 6a and check Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ just to see what people have been saying about me while I’m sleeping. I usually take a shower, but I may or may not wash my hair depending on how it looks and based on advice I received while watching ‘The Nate Berkus Show’ one afternoon. I get to the office just after 7a, work, eat lunch, work some more, then head home at the end of the day where I continue working, but usually on self-directed pieces. If there’s not much work to be done, I’ll head to the rock climbing gym instead.
[Side Note: This interview has already lasted well over a minute. Though maybe the Irish just tell time differently.]
How did you get your first design client?
My first client was John Wiley & Sons who I did some simple logo work for, along with some additional brand collateral. Wasn’t anything great, but it was my third year in school and there wasn’t much time for major work outside of the classroom and side projects I had been working on at the time. They found me through Behance and the rest is history more or less.
How do you approach a new project? What’s your design process like?
This is an easy question to answer, but there are several answers so I’ll keep it short. How I approach a project is entirely contingent upon the type of work, the client, the budget, and the schedule. Usually I’ll sift through old design annuals, look for inspiration on the web, sketch some ideas, and just start designing. Projects vary from day to day, client to client, so there’s no real tried ‘n true method per se.
You have quite a distinct, vintage feel to your work. Where do you get inspiration from?
This is actually the first time someone has told me that my work has a vintage feel to it. Certainly there are some pieces that lend themselves to such a designation, but again I think this is just a case of the design being appropriate for the client or content. For a lot of my vintage design inspiration I like to peruse Flickr and the Library of Congress site, the latter of which is an invaluable resource for not just inspiration, but for beautiful images of all of American history.
You’ve been involved in a few high-profile self-initiated projects, such as The Momentus Project and Invitation to an Assassination. How much of your work is self-initiated projects, and how much is client work? Is there one you prefer over the other, and why?
The majority of my work is the stuff I get paid to do for [at least] forty hours a week at Planet. It’s not just my job, but also my passion. And that passion spills over into my life at home. In order to satisfy my thirst for work, I create my own projects. I enjoy challenging myself and establishing parameters for self-initiated projects is a great way to learn and grow as a creative individual. I prefer them both for different reasons. Working with clients is a breath of fresh air after working for yourself for so long, and vice versa. It’s a healthy balance, each with their respective pros and cons.
The Momentus Project is probably your most well-known work, and the piece that made you a household name (In very design-oriented households, anyway). What was the motivation behind it? Is there an end-goal for it, or was it something you set up for fun?
It’s a little weird to think that The Momentus Project is my most well-known piece considering I’m only responsible for 1/52 of the entire collection. The project was born out of an obsession I have with history, specifically United States history. I’m not a God-fearing conservative rooted in the traditional American way of life, I just think we as United States citizens have a lot to be appreciative of, but I find that the majority of the folks I speak to know nothing of what makes this the greatest country in the world. The end goal for the project has evolved, but the details are still being ironed out on my end so there’s nothing specific at this point.
What design tools could you not live without?
Obviously Adobe’s Creative Suite, specifically Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. Dribbble has become an incredible source of inspiration, and Designspiration has quickly become one of my favorite sites for cataloging inspiration from across the web. My iPhone makes cataloging inspiration easy as well, but makes sharing it even easier. ‘Designing Design’ by Kenya Hara and ‘Designers Don’t Read’ by Austin Howe are some of my favorite books about design and advertising. All of Chuck Klosterman’s works are my favorite books not about design. Though, if I’m being completely honest, I could live without all of that, my life would just be less interesting I think. Or maybe more interesting, I don’t know.
What’s currently on your playlist?
At this exact moment I’m listening to Peter Wolf Crier’s latest album ‘Garden of Arms’. Peter Wolf Crier is one of my all-time favorite bands, and I’ve had ‘Garden of Arms’ on repeat for awhile now. Can’t recommend it enough.
And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
This is another one of those easy to answer questions with several different answers. There are so many different types of “design jobs” that it’s hard to give specific advice for diverging paths. The best advice I can give can be applied to any number of scenarios: Work harder than everyone else around you. Also, learn to laugh. Especially at yourself.