Interview with Brian Nelson
Date of Interview
January 29, 2010
Designer's Twitter Page
City & Country of Residence
Grand Forks, United States
Curently Working For
Myself/University of North Dakota
Type of Design
Graphic and Web
1. Besides the usual online blogs and galleries, from what or where do you draw inspiration?
Everywhere. I don't want to sound cliché, but in all honesty, there is inspiration to be found all the time. I am inspired by nature a lot. There are forms and shapes in nature that just lend themselves to design. I work full-time for the University of North Dakota and I am often inspired by the students I oversee. I'm not much older than them, but it's beneficial to me to stay current with their states of mind.
2. Design-related or not, can you list up to 3 books that you've found beneficial to your growth as a designer?
Area by Phaidon Press this is a really great book to draw inspiration from. And beautifully printed.
Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Synch? by Seth Godin - this book is really geared towards marketing and software development, but the principles he talks about really made me think twice about some things I do as a designer.
79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut - I would recommend this book to anyone who is even considering a career in design. Mr. Bierut tells a wonderful story throughout the 79 essays, each one leaving the reader with valuable knowledge or experience.
3. If you could name one tool/application/software/hardware that you can't live without (from a design perspective), what would it be, and why?
Sketchbook. I use Moleskine Cahier Journals with the Kraft board cover and I never leave home without it. Whether I'm freelancing or working at my full-time job, every note or sketch I make goes into that book. It's a great informal record-keeping tool, and I often flip through old filled-up books for inspiration.
4. What would be your design "dream job"?
I suppose I have two. I'd love to work with Michael Bierut at some point. He's one of the big reasons I got into design. He has also never forgotten what it's like to be a new designer. Alternatively, I'd love to become successful enough here to work for myself full-time, and possibly have employees one day. I'm a long way off from that now, but it's something I'm pushing for.
5. What changes would you like to see in the design community in the next 5 years?
Wow, great question. I think there is an overabundance of "how-to's", tutorials, and galleries of this and that online. There really needs to be a movement back to intelligent thinking and design. Sites like this, for instance, or Design Observer offer some great resources for useful and valuable commentary on design. In addition, it'd be nice to see some of our day-to-day life being influenced more by design. There are so many things in the world, and most of them are designed poorly. That's something we can fix. Oh, and stop using the computer right away. Sketch first.
Special thanks to Brian Nelson for taking the time to answer these questions exclusively for Interviews by Design.