Tim Frame has over 20 years of experience in graphic design and visual communications. His broad range of experience includes the design of corporate identity systems, retail graphic programs, environmental graphics, as well as advertising, packaging, and publication design. Tim formed his own studio in 2000 and now works almost exclusively for other design firms and agencies. He also teaches graphic design at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I'm not sure that the term graphic designer existed at that point in time, you have to remember that this was "back in the day." I believe they were called commercial artists back then. Anyway, it was actually as the result of an art class in high school: the teacher gave an assignment to design and illustrate an advertisement. It wasn't until then that I realized it was a career possibility.
Who or what inspires you?
Mostly the work of other designers and illustrators, both past and present. I'm not necessarily referring to just individuals, but their work. There's a lot of older stuff I've found here and there, you have no idea who designed it, but the work is amazing. I collect a lot of old "stuff" milk caps, beverage labels, magazines, catalogs, children's books, travel decals, etc. Mostly stuff from eras when everything was illustrated and lettered by hand. I'm inspired by design and designers in other disciplines as well. On a much grander scale, I'm always inspired by the work of the creator of the universe (God). Not just the unique designs and amazing beauty, but also the level of detail that can be found in all of His creation.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I've always loved to draw, so I guess you could say I taught myself to a very limited degree. In college I majored in Art with a concentration in Commercial Art (remember, this was "back in the day"). I also did a year of grad school just to build my portfolio. I was actually torn between design and illustration, because I loved and wanted to do both. Although I do remember after having my first logo assignment in college thinking it would be cool to just design logos. I think one of the main things I came away from school with was a love of typography. I don't think it was as much an influence from school as it was from discovering the work of Michael Doret. His work still inspires and amazes me.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
For me it's making time to pursue the things that inspire me. I think working with and around other designers also keeps you fresh. Seeing what others are doing and the exchange of ideas and learning from their practice(s). It's also one of the disadvantages of being a solo act.
What are some of your current projects?
I'm doing some sports logo concepts for Disney's marketing group and a redesign of the logo for HOLLYWOOD.com
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I'd have to say that a lot of the work that I'm most proud of has never seen the light of day. Either options that a client decided not to proceed with, or concepts that are still just a rough sketch on paper. An example would be a couple of logos I did for Ironhead Athletic. It's an example of what I consider to be some of the best work I've ever done, but the client decided to hire another designer and move forward with their mark. Another example would be the logo and T-Shirt concepts that I did (unsolicited) for the Dennis Miller Radio show.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I want to develop some ideas I have for a couple of lines of T-shirts. I've got a few done for my "Motor Skills" line. I also have a name and concept for a web site that would be used to promote these: www.touristees.com. I would also pursue producing some silkscreen and letterpress work if I had the time.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
There are no shortcuts to success. You need to continue to educate yourself through your own efforts of exposure and experience. Solicit feedback from those who are successful and more experienced. Take on projects that will give you more experience in areas that you want to pursue, even if they're not paying ones. Do whatever is necessary to become a good communicator, because that will have as much influence on your success as your design/illustration skills.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
If it communicates the concept clearly in unique fashion and resonates with the audience that it was intended for.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I go back to the things that inspire me. It seems like there's less and less time for that. With teaching full time, I feel like I'm not spending as much time designing as I would like, so the burn-out aspect is more related to trying to maintain/manage two careers rather than being burned out by doing too much of one thing.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't a designer/illustrator I would have been a..."
Homeless, destitute person. Probably a musician, though I have no natural talent that I'm aware of, which would result in my being homeless and destitute. I really love music and have a great respect for those who have such talents.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
I can't really say I follow any of the shows in prime time, I'm still anxiously waiting for one of the networks to make a TV series out of the ROCKY movies.
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