One Minute With…
Hi Greg, thanks for taking time to chat with One Minute With. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
First off… thanks for having me! It is an honor to be here among friends and people I really admire. Secondly…I’m spending way more than a minute on this. False advertising Conor!
I’m a designer, illustrator, typographer, husband and father based in good ol’ Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I grew up in Allentown (yes, the same place Billy Joel wrote that shitty song about) so I’ve lived in PA my whole life. I generally just try to keep myself as sleep-deprived and busy as possible – much to my wife’s chagrin. I’m excited to see what the effects of this will be on my body as I get older. Also – because it takes up a large portion of my life – I’m pretty obsessed with RoboCop.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Greg Christman.
Depending on when my kiddo gets up, I’m generally awake between 5:30 – 7 am. I like to start the day off right by changing what is most likely a poop-filled diaper. This works to my advantage since I don’t drink coffee. After that I’ll do a bit of work, queue up a few posts on My Cat is a Dick, check emails, shower, get dressed and then hop on my bike for the ride to the office. I work with a bunch of super talented people making things pretty on the internets. After losing multiple games of foosball throughout the day I head home to hang with the family. Eventually everything settles down and I stay up way too late making stuff and drinking beer for very little money. It is both awesome and a terrible business model.
How did you get into design? Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you as a designer?
I knew in high school that I wanted to be a designer. We had a great art/design program – thankfully, because I was a total fuck up in all other aspects of academia. I passed most of my classes by drawing pictures in the answer fields and hoping the teacher would give me a half point. Shit, now that I’m typing this my wife will probably yell at me that my son Oliver will someday read this and we won’t be able to discipline him for screwing around in school. Hey, future Oliver: “Get to your room and do your homework.”
I also blame punk and hardcore music for my interest in design. I was in bands all throughout junior high/high school/college. Designing for my bands and my friends’ bands was always a big passion for me and it continues to be. I have a ton of friends still touring/playing and I’m always honored to work on a music project since I don’t have much time to play music myself these days. Helps me to still feel connected to that aspect of my life.
How do you approach a new project? What’s your creative process like?
Step 1: Think of a dick and fart joke
Step 2: Draw said dick and fart joke.
Step 3: Profit.
But in reality that’s a pretty loaded question. Each project is different. Sometimes I’ll go straight to Illustrator and the first thing I do is “it.” Sometimes it takes hours and hours of sketching. I really enjoy breaking a project down to its simplest form and then building it up from there.
Your design work spans a load of fields, from logo design, to illustration, to print design, to lettering, and so on. If, in some horrible hypothetical universe, you could only do one of these things, which would it be, and why?
That’s a tough one… I’d probably have to go with lettering. My friends Alex Liebold, Eric Swartzwelder and I have been working on Context Type Foundry for 5 years but life/work keeps getting in the way. We have roughly 30 typefaces in various stages of completion and it’s looking like this project will be a reality in the near future. I often find myself doing a single custom letter for a project and then I end up finishing the entire typeface that night instead of working on the actual project. I’m pretty sure I have ADD.
Much of your design work has a slightly retro, organic feel to it. Where, who, when or what inspires you?
Honestly I’m mostly inspired by my friends. It’s a cheesy answer but I really am lucky to be friends with so many talented people. It motivates me to push myself and keep creating as much as I can. I draw a lot of inspiration from comedy as well. Most of the personal pieces I do tend to have a bit of humor to them. And since I’m super awkward and could never do standup, I tend to just doodle pictures of boobs and wieners and stuff.
If, in some Freaky Friday-like situation, you could live the life of another designer, illustrator or creative, for a day, who would it be, and why?
Ray Harryhaussen. I’ve always loved stop-motion animation and movie special effects in general. I wore out my tape of “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” as a kid. There’s just something so magical and real about that old style of film making. Anything can be created with CGI now, but it took a lot more creativity and imagination to figure out how to do those special effects before the advent of computer graphics. Which is something I think is making a comeback now, whether it be the return to vinyl/analog recording for music or the hands-on nature of letterpress with design. I love seeing the artist’s touch. Makes it feel more personal.
What design tools could you not live without?
And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
Do what makes you happy and don’t just settle for a paycheck. If you have to put in the extra hours, do it.
I think as designers we do this because it’s a passion. I mean, clearly it’s not just for the pay. Even when I’m not designing I’m thinking about design. If I totaled up the hours I spend on a project against what I’m actually being paid for I might as well work at a minimum wage job…and I’m completely fine with that. Don’t get me wrong. I love money. I just love a good final product more. Again, terrible business model. I’m gonna go drink a beer.