In this article, we speak to one of our designers, Aart Tanner from Netbloom in California (USA). Check out Aart's Netbloom designer portfolio on DesignCrowd today.
About Aart Tanner
Are you male or female?
I am just a simple man.
Describe the city that you live in.
Goleta is a small university beach town, part of the Santa Barbara County, on the coast of California. It is a place of tremendous natural beauty, stunning scenery and is home to all sorts of wildlife (including college freshmen). From frogs to lizards, storks to eagles, in Santa Barbara your always close to nature. Sometimes even a little too close - one night not so long ago, there was what sounded like a huge bear-like creature playing with our garden furniture in the backyard.
What is the best thing you have bought with the money from DesignCrowd?
Erm, I haven't bought anything fancy with the money I've made from DesignCrowd as of yet, I've been responsible, saving it and spending some on general living costs.
If you could be any logo design in the world which one would you be?
I would be the British National Rail logo, because I don't know whether I'm coming or going.
What is your best design on DesignCrowd to date?
I think my best design so far (and my most favourite) would have to be my Loan Fido web design, I loved every minute of that project.
If you could design for anyone in the world who would it be and why?
I can't think of anyone in particular I would like to design for, but I would love to design a board game one day, you know? Like, Monopoly or Scrabble. I love the graphics on the boxes of board games and the little bits and pieces that come with them. I don't know, it's just something I would really like to do.
If you weren't a designer what would you be?
Well, I'm very active, so if I weren't a designer I think I would have pursued a career in something practical and 'hands-on'_ like motor mechanics, carpentry or who knows maybe something really extreme, like telemarketing.
Do you enjoy designing now as much as you did when you first started?
Absolutely! I really enjoy the natural progression I go through with my work. For example, I love to look back on designs I've done about a year ago and think "wow, I remember doing this design and thinking it was the bee's knee's, and now look at it, it's nothing in comparison to what I do now." I know that a year from now I'm going to look back on the designs I do today and think the same thing. I enjoy knowing that I'm only going to get better.
Aart's Design Background
Tell us about yourself - where do you live, what sort of designer are you?
My name is Aart Tanner, I'm 25 years old, I was born in Birmingham, United Kingdom but currently live in Santa Barbara, California. I am a web designer and have been for the last 5 years.
How did you get started in design?
I guess it all started at an early age, my childhood dream was to become a cartoonist as I loved to draw and make people laugh. My first encounter with digital art came from using Microsoft Paint on my father's computer. I used to take doodles I had made and recreate them in Paint using the basic shape tools, the eraser and fill bucket.
Then I moved onto making basic animations and story telling using Microsoft PowerPoint. I know its not exactly â_oindustry standard software,â__ but it's all I had, and I managed to pull it off using the basic shape tools and frames. lots and lots of frames.
How did you learn about design, what training did you get?
When it comes to web design, I was pretty much self-taught to begin with. I used to spend hours and hours reading digital art magazines and practising with Photoshop, which evolved into a fondness for website design. I got my first real training experience when I worked as an intern for a small website studio called RDS Networks.
While I was there my boss Ramangave me a professional insight into the basics of web design and print design, and a crash course in XHTML and CSS. After my time at RDS I used what I had learned and started designing websites for people I knew, small businesses and well, anything I could get my hands on.
My second training experience came 2 years ago when I was offer a job at an award winning design agency called TVS Media. These guys were an amazing team, very professional and a lot of fun. I learned more about design and a lot more about the principles of more advanced dynamic coding, but most importantly I learned the value of productivity, time management and how to conduct business with clients. My experience at TVS was a pleasant one and it gave me the tools necessary to be where I am today.
What is your preferred design software?
Adobe Photoshop is my preferred design software as it is the program I am most familiar with. However, I also like to use Illustrator for particular elements of web design and have recently grown fond of using Adobe Fireworks.
What is your design process?
It depends on the project I guess. if for example the website is dynamic or content heavy, then the developer in me likes to plan ahead and sketch out a few rough drafts before I begin the design process. However, if its just a basic website and the brief is detailed enough, I tend to hit the computer straight away.
Where do you think creativity comes from?
My most creative pieces of work have been the result of limited resources. Ironically enough, many times this has been the most inspiring muse I have encountered. In essence creativity is the daughter of ingenuity and a deep need to create.
What web development or coding languages (if any) do you know?
What is the best thing about being a designer?
I think when it comes to being a designer, no matter what field you work in, one of the best aspects is the freedom it gives you to move around. In this digital age, being a designer has become more of a trade like plumbing or carpentry. It's a useful skill that can be employed and marketed anywhere in the world. In addition, the power of the Internet enables a global clientele and your office can be pretty much anywhere, as long as it has a decent Internet connection available of course.
Describe a typical day in your life as a designer.
Well, I'm a freelancer and as one it's my responsibility to be. well, responsible. For my own sanity and stability I treat every day like a normal working day. I begin working at around 9am, before that, depending on how many projects I have going on at the time, I plan out how many hours I'm going to spend on particular projects. I work for 8 hours a day, every day, excluding weekends and holidays.
Apart from getting up every now and then to make myself a cup of tea and maybe grab a snack, I'm usually glued to my computer getting work done. Also, we all know how important it is to take a brief intermission from sitting and looking at the screen, so I like to take a walk around the housing complex in which I live to get a little exercise and soak up a little sunshine.
What websites or other designers inspire you?
There are a lot of amazing websites out there and designers that are capable of pushing boundaries and creating some incredible work, but the sites that inspire me the most have to be the sites of the Envato network and Smashing Magazine which I visit on a daily basis. As far as an individual designer is concerned, I'm extremely inspired by the success of Kriesi who is the best-selling author on ThemeForest.
What are the benefits of being a freelance designer?
I think, like many things in life, being a freelancer has its pros and cons, from being your own boss to the freedom of choosing where and when you work. But with liberty comes responsibility. You are responsible for managing, finding and completing your own work on time and to a professional level, in addition to managing your finances, paying bills and so on.
However, I think the best thing about being a freelancer, is being able to let your work represent you. From my experience, it's really nice not having to deal with office/studio bureaucracy, to not have to alter your work against your best judgement at the request of your superiors (even though sometimes they may be right, you don't get to learn it directly from the customer). I think working in an office/studio environment is a great way to learn how to be more productive, work with clients and manage yourself better, however, I found it to be more of a â_oball and chainâ__ when it comes to creativity and personal progression and I actually really enjoy the one-on-one personal relationship with my clients.
Why Aart Uses DesignCrowd
Why do you use DesignCrowd and how has DesignCrowd helped you?
DesignCrowd has helped me a lot by providing me with a place in which I can practice and put my skills to good use. For the past few years my life has been based around the development aspect of web design, but I really wanted to improve my productivity and quality as far as visual design is concerned. The thing is, when your trying to improve your visual design skills it can be difficult to do so effectively when all you can do is make up imaginary projects. With DesignCrowd you can practice with real projects and real people with the possibility of making a little extra cash in the process.
Have you found that using DesignCrowd gives you access to more clients?
Absolutely, DesignCrowd has definitely taken some of the pressure off as far as finding clients is concerned. It can be very difficult and time consuming to have to constantly hunt for clients especially if you're just starting out as a freelancer. DesignCrowd is a great place where designers and clients can come together and produce some great work.
What is your top tip to aspiring designers?
Be patient, give yourself time to develop your skills and style as an individual and a designer. I've been designing for 5 years now and to be honest, I've only recently become comfortable and confident enough with my work to consider myself an established designer.
Also, never stop learning. One of the great things about this industry is that there are always new styles, trends, methods and technology for you to embrace. Be humble, take risks and never think that you know it all.
You can hire Aart Tanner via his design portfolio on DesignCrowd.