This month, we interviewed our web designer Chesley Andrews, who took on the daunting task last summer of overhauling thelampnyc.org. She runs her own studio, Dossier, and happens to be looking for a few good interns–email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to learn more about her work.
How did you get interested in design? Growing up I was always artistically inclined (lots of painting, collage, and drawing) as well as an avid reader. I was also super into my mom’s computer and would spend hours on KidPix, Microsoft Paint, and even Mario Paint (my one Nintendo game). It wasn’t until I met a graphic designer in college, that I realized there was such a profession and it that combined my love of art, typography, and computers. Everything fell into place after that.
What inspired you to start your own studio? Well, I spent a year or so working for James Ellis of Studio IV/Athletics. Athletics is a design collective in Brooklyn, made up of about 7 guys who all have their own studios but share studio space and collaborate on projects. They encouraged and helped me to eventually create my own studio, but it was always something I wanted to do, it just ended up happening a lot sooner than I expected! What I love about working for myself is that I get to work with so many different types of clients/businesses/styles, there’s always something to learn. Setting my own hours ain’t half bad either.
When a client approaches you for a project, where/how do you start? First I try to get a feel for who the client’s target audience is, and think about what would be the best way to communicate to them. This involves thinking about colors, typefaces, layouts, patterns, and weighing different web technologies. There’s always a lot to learn from the client since they know their industry and audience so well. I always ask them to send me examples (usually links and screenshots) of different “looks and feels” that they like, as well as examples of what their competitors are up to.
What changes have you seen in the web and print design industry since you started working? Well the web design industry is always changing, the languages that the web is built on are constantly evolving, so as a developer, you really have to be disciplined about learning and teaching yourself. Thankfully there’s a general culture of openness and sharing on the web, so there’s always a free tutorial, design element, or piece of advice to be found.
Who are some other artists or designers you’re interested in right now? Nathaniel Kerksick of culturegraphic.com has a beautiful design sense, but what I really appreciate about his work is how he continually strives to create ultra-friendly and intuitive user interfaces that push the type of communication you thought was possible on the web. The best part is that he works with really good-cause clients like: Green Reportcard, Transportation For America, and the Obama Campaign.
Jonathan Harris of www.number27.org is another amazing designer/developer working more in the art/anthropology world harnessing technology to tell stories. His work is unreal.