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Ryan, a Toronto based designer, has over 6 years of experience in a wide range of projects. He loves all things Mac and can often be found at the local Apple store drooling over the 30" cinema display. By day, Ryan is an in-house designer at The Royal Canadian Yacht Club in downtown Toronto. Outside of his day job, Ryan takes on freelance work including custom invitations, identities and stationery programs. He also has an interest in photography and takes a lot of mediocre photographs. Ryan has been married for almost 1 year and he and his wife have the world's weirdest cat named Fred. While not officially diagnosed, Ryan is convinced that Fred suffers from an inner ear problem which seriously affects his balance and depth perception.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer? Was there a pivotal moment?
It all started the day my preschool teacher called my mom "concerned" that I only used black paint. Actually, I think I had two pivotal moments. My parents strongly encouraged my creative side as a child (they knew I just liked black) but the day my mother told me I'd never put food on the table by simply drawing was probably the first time I had to seriously think about how I could be creative and still make a living. The second moment was around the same time we had a designer come and present in our 11 th grade art class. He talked about his work and about design in general. I think my decision to become a designer came after those two experiences.

Who or what inspires you?
I'm inspired by great design work.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I went to St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada . It was so cold in the winter we had nothing else to do but work on our projects! We didn't see a computer until almost our third year and for that I'm grateful. At the time I cursed the manual training we received - I despised rubylith, hand-rendering our letterforms and the patience it all took. There was no undo, if you screwed up, you had to start all over. As much as it pains me to say it, those experiences have helped to make me the designer I am today. I'm glad that I was exposed to those processes and think I'm a better designer today for it.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
I'm constantly reading, design magazines, newspapers, websites, anything. I try not to follow trends. I think you can get so stuck trying to keep up with the latest fads that you'll never create anything original.

What are some of your current projects?
Outside of the Club's monthly magazine, I also have a coffee table book and I'm working with a team to create a new RCYC website. I just finished a logo for an addictions treatment program. I'm going to be starting a set of wedding invitations for a friend while working through plans to start my own invitation company, a huge undertaking. Finally, I've been working on my own website and stationery package for about 6 years - I think it's finally time to finish those. I've started posting some work on my blog -

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
The one project I'm most proud of is our own wedding invitations. I was initially stressed wondering if people would like them and whether they would turn out as anticipated. All worries aside, they turned out great and everyone was surprised at the fact that we had created them. I have to give art direction credit to my wife. She had veto power over everything and it made our invite that much better.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I'm definitely interested in screen printing. I've always been interested in creating a clothing company with great silk screened shirts – not silk shirts. I'm also a very amateur photographer and I'd love to get more involved with that as well. I'd love to have the opportunity to show my photos, maybe even sell one or two.

Any advice to the novice designer?
Be curious, read and experiment. If you're a student, don't take a film class thinking it's a no-brainer, find something easier. The last thing you need is a paper dissecting the symbolism of Apocalypse Now the same day your final typography project is due. Trust me!

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
I've finished many projects and thought – "that looks great" but it really means nothing unless it connects with your target audience. That should be the goal from the outset. I always want my work to look great but it needs to garner a response to be fully successful.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I pick up my camera. I'm sure I've taken many more bad photos than good but it's that one really good shot that's exciting.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
I think LOST it's really good show. The Simpson's are always good for a laugh. I like to flip more than anything.

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