One Minute With…
Hi Ryan, thanks for taking time to chat with One Minute With. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
During the workday, I am the Creative Director at Virb, where I get to make an amazing website-builder with a bunch of really great guys. I teach Web Design at two local universities and love the fulfillment of interacting with students. When not designing, I am juggling my (most important) roles of husband and father, with my son Asher and wife Sarah. I live in a small town in southwestern Ohio and I love doing what I love for a living.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Ryan Clark.
Everyday starts off the same way, with me chasing my son around the house for a while. After some play-time I grab some coffee and get settled in with that days tasks and spend some time helping Virb customers in our Help Center. We have a daily status meeting over Skype in the late-morning, and then break for lunch. I spend the rest of the day cranking out whatever I need to, whether its business cards, site designs, or copy for emails. In the evenings, I like to get away from the computer and spend time with my wife and friends, or work on any of my many personal projects.
How did you get into design?
I got into design as a teenager, making logos and posters for friends’ bands. In college I took that love and turned my attention towards print and identity design. A couple years ago I was given the chance to pursue web/identity design and have been happily pushing pixels ever since (although I still like to get crazy with a screen-printer from time to time).
How do you approach a new project? What’s your design process like?
I have a bit of a different approach and process. I tend to do a LOT of brainstorming internally (like while driving to the grocery and mowing the lawn), thinking through problems and making basic design decisions for each project. When I finally open my design-weapon-of-choice, I just have to execute what’s already in my head, cutting out a lot of time I used to spend trying multiple executions, styles, colors, etc. It makes the process much faster and efficient, and I need all the extra time I can get!
You have a clean, geometric, but still very much vintage feel to your work. Where do you get inspiration from?
I get inspiration from a lot of things (books, antique type, hand-lettering), but right now I’m really into vintage tattoos. I love the style and the meanings behind the tattoos of the 1930s-50s and lately I’ve really enjoyed exploring clean and modern geometric interpretations of them.
You teach at a couple of universities in Ohio – How does that differ to your design work? What challenges does it bring?
I love teaching. It’s a total change of pace from my daily work, and I get to share my passion for my craft with rooms full of students. The biggest challenge in teaching Web Design is really knowing where to start. There’s so many facets to what makes a great website or app, and you want to feed it to students in portions they can understand, without totally going over their heads. I can get ahead of myself pretty easily, but the students never seem to mind.
Along with doing full-time design at Virb, AND doing extra work from home, you also create design resources for the design community, with your font Liberator being your most well-known of these. How important is it to get involved in the design community, do you feel?
The design community is an amazing group of genuine and helpful ladies and gentlemen. I always stress to new designers the importance of interacting in the community; there’s so much to learn from your peers, and I think it’s essential in your growth as a designer.
Aside from just interacting, I’ve really enjoyed making fonts, posters, and Illustrator brushes for designers like myself. It’s nice to share resources that I use on a daily basis, and know other people get so much use out of something I made.
What design tools could you not live without?
I’m gonna try to keep this short(ish)…I design with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, sharp pencils, tracing paper and my scanner. I code with Coda, FTP with Transit, and keep in touch with my coworkers using Sparrow, Campfire, Skype and iChat. Virb is my CMS of choice and I serve up fonts with the magic of Typekit. And I couldn’t make it through the day without Rdio, the best thing to ever happen to my music collection.
And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
Work hard; good things come to those who hustle. Connect with your peers, be kind, and treat people well; the design community is full of wonderful, helpful people. Our greatest resource really is each other.
Most importantly, do what you love; there are enough jobs doing design work to not waste years doing something you hate. If you don’t like client work, don’t do it. If you love to screenprint, buy a press and make stuff! Basically, pinpoint the reason you got into design, that thing that makes you wake up in the morning, and do it. No amount of money or fame can replace the fulfillment of doing what you love for a living.
Many thanks to Ryan for sharing his thoughts with OMW. I had a lot of fun talking to him, and I hope you love the interview as much I do!
Why not check out Ryan’s site, and follow him on Dribbble and Twitter?