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I've often been asked, in developing and running this site, why I don't turn the tables on myself and answer my own questions for inclusion in this interview blog. The reason I haven't, to this point is that I didn't want it to appear to be a blog about me. I'm not big into nepotism. I wanted the site to establish itself before I took that leap. That said, and because the question keeps coming up, I've decided to celebrate the 40th post to Design Inspiration and take the advice of my peers. So this, in it's entirety, is my interview with myself, I hope you gain some enjoyment in watching me squirm. ;)

Greetings, my name is Jeff Andrews, and I'm the principal designer/creative director of my own design studio aptly named Jeff Andrews Design. My studio's main focus is on print related design and business identity. I've been working in this industry for just under 11 years.

I am also the creator of the illustration community Sugar Frosted Goodness. A collaborative space where illustrators from around the world converge, post their work and interact.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

Probably the real pivotal moment in my childhood that led to my interest in graphic design and more specifically logo design was when the grocery store my father worked at when I was a kid, Safeway, updated their logo.

They went from this one, that you can see displayed on this storefront:

To this:

This change was the first time I'd ever stopped and actively asked questions related to logos and logo design. To say I was intrigued would be an understatement. To this day I count this realization as “the moment” that I really began to notice the logos and brands around me, and to take note of them. I remember studying this new logo, which at the time of the change-over was on everything my father was bringing home. I carefully scrutinized the way the "S" interacted with the strokes encasing it. The line weight, the color, everything. I'd always had an artistic eye, my mother once joked that I'd been born with a pencil in my hand, so I guess it was a natural progression. Natural for me anyway.

Another logo that made an impact on me at an early age was when First National Bank of
Oregon became First Interstate Bank. Coincidentally the bank that my mother worked for.

The interaction between the two stylized "F's", and how they combined to form the "I" in their negative space blew me away the first time I saw it. (First Interstate has since been bought out by Wells Fargo Bank. Their logo doesn't even compare in my opinion!)

Who or what inspires you?

Alot of things inspire me in different ways. My fiancee Michelle, for instance, inspires me to be a better person. Design-wise, I'm probably most inspired by my friends in the industry who are doing phenomenal work and are constantly pushing themselves to become better designers. Their struggles, in essence, becomes my own. People like Von Glitschka and Keith Bowman for instance. They inspire me. Two extremely talented guys, and good friends, who both in their own ways, have pushed me to be a better designer. Seeing what these guys are accomplishing just makes me want it that much more. I'm lucky to have them as friends, and my work is better for having known them.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I was formally trained at the Art Institute of Seattle back in the early part of the 90's. To put it into perspective for you, I started about the same time O.J. Simpson took his tour of the city in the "white Bronco", and Kurt Cobaine took his own one-way tour in another part of Seattle. However, despite the education I received there, I would consider myself "self taught". Though I received the core knowledge I would need to build upon at AIS, it was after college that I really began to learn. Not to mention all of the software and programs that I use today, (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver etc.) I've taught myself how to use.

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

I tend to buy alot of design related magazines and books. I'm a junkie sometimes when it comes to a good design book or magazine. I get lost in the pages, like I used to get lost in comics when I was a kid. (Who am I kidding right? Like I still can get lost in a comic from time to time.) I also spend alot of time perusing design-related websites and forums, and of course spend time developing and maintaining my own sites, like this one. The interaction I get working with the talented designers and illustrators who have contributed here and on my collaborative illustration blog, Sugar Frosted Goodness, has been invaluable, and the friendships I've made in doing so has been pretty fantastic too.

What are some of your current projects?

My biggest project right now is the development and design of my own website. I'm my own worst critic when it comes to this site and it shows. I can't tell you how often I'm asked, "Is the site up and running yet?" Well, no it's not. but it's getting there. I have a great design nailed down that I'm happy with, I'm just currently working on refining the site to my exacting specifications. It's getting there folks!

I'm also currently working on a couple of different logo design projects. A logo for a local Mexican foods vendor, along with a complimentary menu design. And a logo for a local dentist. Both projects are in their infancy, so I'm not able to share the comps just yet, sorry. :)

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

I'm proud of alot of the work I've done in the past. I've been lucky to have worked with some really great people in helping to develop their image and brand. Those are some of the most rewarding projects I've worked on, where you know you're helping a business start out on the right footing. It's a great feeling. As an example, I recently helped a telecommunications company in Pennsylvania, NCG (The National Communications Group) develop a new look for their corporate image. A new logo, business stationery etc. were the first things we tackled together. It was great working closely with them, despite the miles between us, to find the right look and feel they wanted for their new image. Very rewarding indeed.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

There are a number of things I still want to try. Gosh, so many. I'd love to work with a letterpress, get my hands dirty and just get into what was once such an integral part of the "graphic designer's" process. I'd love to write and illustrate a children's book. I even have a great concept for a children's book that I've been nurturing for the past six months or so. I'd love to see it come to fruition. I'd love to be involved with graphics for movies or television, as a child of the 70's and 80's, so much of my life experiences were molded by these two mediums. I could go on and on... I love learning new techniques and skills. I think it just makes your work and your life that much more valuable.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?

Best advice I could give is to never convince yourself that you know it all. There is always someone out there who is better and knows more. Always work to keep learning, broaden your horizons and challenge yourself to get better. Set goals for yourself and your work, and more importantly stick to them. And always, always, always think "Concept First!"

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?

A designed piece or illustration will be successful if the concept is strong. My buddy Von said it best, "Good design without a concept is nothing but decoration. And a concept without good design is mute." Words to live by if you're a designer, and bear repeating.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

As I've stated earlier, the interaction I have with other designers who are constantly pushing and striving to better themselves motivates me to do better myself. Maybe it's the competitive nature in me. I don't have any notions of being a "world class" designer, in fact most times I'm my own worst critic . But I will keep pushing to get better as long as I'm drawing breath. It's that competitive nature that keeps me fired up, and fuels my desire to see myself get better. To avoid burn-out, which has plagued me since art school, I spend time with my beautiful fiancee, or my family. I'm a big family man, i can't wait to get married and have children of my own. Ultimately, what works best for me is to get away from the drawing board and the computer and just live life. The satisfaction I get from that, feeds my creativity when I'm in my office working on a project.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

I have to sheepishly admit that, like the majority of contributors to this site thus far, I'm a LOST fanatic. I think it's one of the best and smartest shows on TV right now, and the one show each week that I find myself really looking forward to.


devon spec said...

jeff! it's about time. ;)

love your stuff. it's so nice to know more about you.


Elwood H. Smith said...

Three Cheers!!! It IS good to know more about you and nice to see some designs. I particularly liked the CharBurger Restaurant logo. Would work well on menus, windows and as a way-cool coaster. A pint of dark ale would look mighty good sitting on that logo.


Chandan Crasta said...

hi Jeff,

I've been on the lookout for some good design blogs. i found one today. great site and good work.

~ CC

Mrs. Maria said...

Excellent Jeff! I'm glad you finally came around and did your own interview.

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