One Minute With…
Hi Jeff, thanks for taking time to chat with One Minute With. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Hey, I’m Jeff Sheldon and I’m the founder and designer of Ugmonk. Ugmonk started as a small side project to design and sell a few t-shirts, but quickly grew into a much bigger brand to the point where I was able to leave my day job to run the the business full-time. I now ship thousands of products to over 55 countries all around the world. I absolutely love running Ugmonk and am incredibly thankful that I get to do this full-time.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Jeff Sheldon.
Wake up. Check email, Twitter, etc. Grab some breakfast and then make the long commute all the way upstairs (I work from home). Every day is different but I usually tackle any urgent emails first before diving into the rest of my to-do list. While design and product design is what I enjoy most, it usually only makes up a minor part of my day. On any given day you’ll find me doing a variety of things including working on new designs, product photoshoots, contacting suppliers, managing customer service, writing blog posts, ordering new products and lots of other miscellaneous tasks. I usually work till about 6 or 7 to take a break for dinner and spend time with my wife. Some days I continue working in the evenings but try to always get a good night’s rest. Every day is a little different.
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 grew up doing all types of traditional art (painting, sketching, sculpting) and it wasn’t until I got to college that I transitioned into design. A lot of people don’t realize how much crossover there is between art and design. The same principles of composition, color theory, shape and form all apply to both so having a foundation in art was a huge boost for me. After jumping into the world of design, I quickly fell in love with typography and realized how integral type is to all design. My interest in typography and minimal design is what led me to launch Ugmonk as a fun side project.
How do you approach a new project? What’s your creative process like?
Since I run my own brand I constantly have new ideas running through my head, sometimes to the point where it’s impossible to shut off. It’s less of a project-by-project basis and more of a constant stream of concepts and ways to improve and grow Ugmonk. When it comes to specific designs, I try to always start with pencil and paper to rough out my ideas. While most of the end products are recreated in a digital format before being produced, sketching is must less constrictive than jumping straight into Illustrator or Photoshop. You can read more about my process here:
Designing Better Than I Deserve
Inside My Sketchbook
You’re obviously best known for Ugmonk, your online clothing store. Considering that countless designers sell apparel on their online stores, why do you think that yours has taken off more than most others? Did you originally go into the project hoping to be able to make a living from it?
I had no idea that I’d be where I am today with doing Ugmonk. I started it as a creative outlet while working at an agency where I was doing mostly production work. I never thought of it as a business or as something I could eventually do full-time, I just really enjoyed creating the products and getting feedback from people who appreciated what I was doing. I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that has made it take-off, but I like to tribute a lot of it to my passion and hard work that have kept it going. Most people see that success I’ve had and think it happened over night, but I’ve spent countless hours building the brand over the years to get it where it is today. Rather than partying on the weekends or watching hours of TV, I’m usually busy working on the next release :)
Your site sports designs that date back several years. When most fashion changes at a painfully fast rate, how important to you is it to create designs which can stand the test of time, and how do you go about doing that?
Yes, that’s a good observation. My goal is to create products that are less focused on popular trends and more aligned with my personal design taste. The Ugmonk style will continue to evolve but I hope to keep the timeless design a main part of the brand.
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?
That’s a tough one. It would have been awesome to be a fly on the wall in the studios of the great American designers like Paul Rand, Saul Bass, and Herb Lubalin. These guys pioneered much of what design is today and much of their work still hold up today, decades later.
What design tools could you not live without?
The essentials: pencil, sketchbook, Illustrator, Photoshop and iMac. Other tools I use: Panasonic Lumix GF1, scanner, Macbook Air, Lightroom, and Wacom tablet.
And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
Work really hard. Do more than the bare minimum or assignments or client projects. Also, do self-initiated projects. You’d be surprised what happens when you do good work and put it out there.
Many thanks to Jeff for talking to us. I really enjoyed his answers, and hopefully you did too!
Why not check out Jeff’s site, and follow him on Dribbble and Twitter?