Interview – Designer Vladimir Tomin

A short while ago we interviewed talented Russian designer Vladimir Tomin. Vladimir specializes in motion graphics, a skill which can take years to master. He seems to have found his calling with After Effects, as his work is fast paced, visually stunning and it never misses a beat. Below is our interview we conducted with Vladimir, then check out his personal website where you can view his entire portfolio. First up is Vladimir’s latest reel for MTV Russia. *WARNING – audio is not safe for work and contains explicit lyrics*. Thanks for doing the interview Vladimir and keep up the great mo- graph!

Age: 28

Website: space-jump.com – portfolio site.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview, why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself.

Thanks for inviting me! I was born and still live in Khabarovsk, Russia. I love my wife, cats, TV series, icecream, good design, good motion.

Many people believe that you have to know how to draw to be a graphic designer; do you believe that is true?

If you can’t draw it limits your artistic arsenal, yes, but I believe you can be great graphic designer even without drawing skills. To tell more, I believe, anyone can actually draw. For someone teaching process is harder, for someone it is much easier but really, anyone can draw.

What is the story behind the name of your branded site, Space-Jump?

It was more about process of picking name for a site. I first planned space-jump as cool name/platform for t-shirt brand, but later I stepped away from t-shirt idea and just put my portfolio there.

What suggestions or tips can you give someone who is aspiring to become a graphic designer?

It is really simple:

1. Do your own thing, DO NOT COPY.

2. Do what came out naturally.

3. Enjoy.

Before you begin working on a new project, where do you draw your inspiration?

Coffee+my head. I believe best ideas are from God. And coffee+my head helps to hear ideas better.

When you are in the process of creating a design, is there something you do that saves you time?

Thinking ahead safes a LOT of time.

In your daily process of being a graphic designer, what are a few websites that you frequent?

http://motionographer.com/

http://www.graphic-exchange.com/home.html

http://www.behance.net/

http://designyoutrust.com/

What computer program do you find yourself in most?

Adobe After Effects hands down.

What are some strategies you can offer that you used to grow as a designer?

Develop sense of beauty.

Accept other peoples critique and be grateful for it.

Try new stuff.

Always do something.

Do cool stuff only.

Desire to grow.

Be COMPLETELY honest with yourself.

When not staring at a computer, what do you like to do for fun?

TV series, plasticine, xbox, private time with my wife, traveling, eating, reading. Something like that.

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Photoshop Tutorial #39 – Give Your Photos A Retro Analog Effect

Today we would like to feature a practical tutorial on how to give your photos a retro analog effect. This tutorial is featured on blog.spoongraphics.co.uk and was written by the talented designer Chris Spooner. Back in the days of analog photography imperfections were part of the job. Colour washes, light leaks, vignettes and blurs were all common problems that appeared during the processing of your film, particularly from cheap cameras such as the Holga, or simply down to human error. While these problems don’t affect digital cameras, we can recreate the cool effects in Photoshop to give our shots that cool lo-fi retro effect. Visit blog.spoongraphics.co.uk now and follow Chris as he shows you how to create this cool retro analog effect. Get creative!

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Daily Inspiration #116 – Minus

Every day we’ll be uploading content on our blog that we feel is inspirational. If you’re stuck and in a rut on a particular project and you are looking for a way out, look through our daily inspiration and see if anything strikes your interest. Maybe you will find a certain image or a particular element that will bring your next project to life. We love all forms of art – from digital art, photography, street art, web design, sculptures and paintings. If we think it’s cool, we’ll share it with you. :)

Minus is the name of a beautiful photography series by Akos Major. Akos specializes in landscape, minimal and waterscape photography. He has a great eye when it comes to looking for that perfect shot. Below is the series entitled Minus, it features many pictures of a vacant and vast icy landscape. Check out his Behance portfolio to view more of his spectacular work. Get inspired!

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Wallpaper of the Week #20 – Letter for Us

This inspirational wallpaper comes to us from the folks at Visual Freaks. The Visual Freaks team is comprised of 5 team members, all of which are freakishly good at their job – check out their about page to get the details on this talented team. This is a beautiful abstract wallpaper that features well crafted shapes and a great color palette, as well as a nice mix of 3D elements. I like how they added clouds and additional mountains/rocks in the background to add more depth to the scene. Click on the image below to download the 1600×1200 wallpaper – for more sizes or for more inspirational and creative wallpapers, check out the blog of Visual Freaks.

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Interview – Photographer Sean McKendall

Recently we had the opportunity of interviewing talented photographer Sean McKendall. Sean has the ability to find and capture the beauty in every day ordinary items. His style varies and his portfolio is full of photos varying in color tones. Below is the interview we conducted with Sean, along with a few samples of his best work. When you’re finished reading the interview head over to his personal website where you can view even more beautiful images by Sean. Thanks again for your time Sean, and keep up the great work!

Age: 37

Website: seanmckendall.com

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview, why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself.

I’m a 37 year old software engineer living in Champaign, Illinois. Logical by nature I’ve always been interested in pottery, painting, and photography. There’s the tangible aspect of pottery and painting, but with photography it’s a bit different. How does one use a camera to create something you see into actual art? I tried my hand at shots here and there trying to reproduce what I enjoyed at the time, but I was never quite pleased with the results. After taking a class at a local community college, I felt I now had the foundations and confidence I needed to put my photos on diplay. The next step was to create a photoblog and get involved with the online community.

What kind of photography do you do? Do you enjoy it?

Someone once stated that I had the ability to find the beauty in every day items, the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi. Throughout my Project 365 experiment, I did find that I gravitated towards those things or places that were often ordinary, overlooked, or forgotten about.

What’s your gear? (type of camera and most used lens)

I’m currently using a Canon Digital Rebel XT, my first and only dSLR. I can say that my 50mm f/1.8 lens gets a lot of use.

Can you offer any advice on how to go about building up a portfolio / ‘getting your foot in the door’ for our readers wishing to start a career in photography?

1) Get to know the equipment you have and make certain you’re comfortable with it. Once you’ve done that, you can truly spend more time on your shots than fiddling with the camera.

2) Take advantage of online services suchas Flickr to post your work. You may even approach local coffee houses and book store to see if they’re willing to display some of your work.

3) Get involved in the online community. There’s a wealth of information out there and sometimes all it takes is simply asking a question to get you on the right path.

What computer program do you find yourself in most?

Lately I’ve been using Lightroom more than Photoshop. I find that I can process my shots much faster and there are a variety of presets that I’ve found useful. If I’m just working with one photo I’ll use Photoshop.

Do you shoot with film or digital? Have you ever shot in film? Which do you prefer?

I mainly shoot with a digital camera. It gives me the ability to make mistakes, learn from them and not feel as if I was pouring money down the drain. I keep thinking I’ll turn to film one day, but I’ve only do so with a few toy cameras.

What advice would you give to our readers who are looking to ‘go pro’ and turn a hobby into a profitable business?

That’s a difficult question for me at this time as I’m looking to ‘go pro’ myself. I believe the key is having a strong portfolio that represents the type of work you truly enjoy doing. You’ll need to start small and it would even be worthwhile to take on a couple clients at no charge to gain experience. Most important: Have patience. Unless you’re truly gifted, your photographic talents didn’t blossom overnight. They took time to develop as will a new business.

Photographers are often told that they need to develop a personal style to set them apart. What would you say sets you apart?

I’m still trying to define what my style is at this time. Over the years I’ve noticed that my work has evolved into something different from when I started. My photos tend to have a nostalgic feel to them and that maybe due to the way I process them. That’s what I’m enjoying now, but I’m not certain if that’ll change in the years to come or if I’ll simply fine-tune the way I process my photos.

When not looking through the lens of a camera, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy crafts with my twin girls, playing video games, and running.

Who are your influences?

I don’t know that I have any influences, but there are definitely some folks that I do admire. In that group would have to be Heiko Waechter, Tim Eichmann, Anissa El Gariani, Otto Kitchens, Ruben Frosali, and David Dillon.

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Interview – Graphic Designer Matt Griffin

Matt Griffin founded 6House Web Design in 2003 and has been the primary owner and art director ever since. He is also the author of an online web design magazine called Mirificam Press. Since 6House Web Design was started in 2003, Matthew Griffin has combined a solid design philosophy and worldview with progressive web design techniques to produce beautiful, effective websites. The result is a long list of satisfied clients both in Midland / Odessa, Texas and around the world. Matthew eventually codified his principles of web design into two lists—the six houses of web design technique and the six houses of web design philosophy. We were fortunate enough to conduct an interview with the busy Matt Griffin, check out the interview below. When you’re finished, head over to Matt’s personal website where you can view his full portfolio. Keep up the great work Matt!

Age: 29

Website: sixhousedesign.com

Why did you choose to enter into your field? What do you like most about designing websites?

I started designing websites when the web was still young back in the late 90s. I fell in love with it immediately because of the unique blend of artistic and programatic tasks involved. I was already a confident BASIC and C programmer at that time but found the monotony of programming something I could only handle in small doses. It was the same thing for my drawing and design. Web design provided the middle ground I was looking for.

What inspired you to create 6House Design?

From the beginning it was my plan to free myself the hard line 9 to 5 employee lifestyle. I married young and had plans for children and I wanted to be able to spend time with my family. It’s not a smart move for everyone. It requires a lot of discipline and foresight. But it’s been rewarding in every way and a great adventure going on eight years now.

What suggestions or tips can you give someone who is aspiring to become a web designer?

First, if you don’t like doing a little bit of everything and adapting and changing your methods on a regular basis, look somewhere else. This vocation is a cacophony of disparate parts and we have to make sense of it all. Second, learn it from the ground up. Start with HTML and CSS and get comfortable with those first. If you try to jump right in and learn with a WYSIWYG editor you’ll regret it later.

Before you begin working on a new project, where do you draw your inspiration?

I try to draw inspiration from the object I’ve been commissioned to represent. When a new client hires me, I typically do a walkthrough of their work area. I pay attention to how they dress, what art they have on the walls, what colors they favor, how their machinery looks and sounds. I also insist that they have a professional photographer come and spend a few hours with them as well. All of this raw material helps me design something unique that conveys the spirit of a business. I’ve found that this is the best way to produce something that my client likes and, in turn, rings true with their customers.

When you are in the process of creating a new site, is there something you do that saves you time?

Yes, something I learned very early on. Never design multiple mockups for one project. I design what I think is best and that’s what I present and that’s what I stand by. It’s a mistake to think that you’re not giving a client enough bang for their buck by presenting only one mockup. The truth is that the more options you give a client, the more trouble you’re going to have. Limit options, put everything you’ve got into one mockup, and you will be a happy designer.

In your daily process of being a designer, what are a few websites that you frequent?

I check in with alistapart.com pretty often. They always have interesting articles and creative solutions to the problems we all face in web design. Also,vandelaydesign.com/blog/ is a place I visit regularly for lists of resources.

What are some strategies you can offer that you used to grow as a designer?

For a long time I walked through one new Photoshop tutorial every week. There’s a million of these online for free and plugging away on a consistent diet of them is a great way to grow yourself as a design. You start to learn tricks and workarounds that make you more efficient. Suddenly, you look up and your stuff is starting to look pretty good.

Who is the coolest designer/web guru that you’ve met so far?

I think it’s probably Jeffrey Zeldman. He wrote Designing with Web Standards and I’ve met him a few times at SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, TX.

When not staring at a computer, what do you like to do for fun?

I spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. I’m a big reader. I really enjoy classical literature and Christian Theology. I write a web design blog called Mirificam Press. I also love movies. I recently finished shooting a feature film that I wrote called Open When Johnny Can Read. I’m in the process of submitting it to film festivals and promoting it right now. And, of course, I design the website. It’s at johnnysletter.com.

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Photoshop Tutorial #38 – Adidas Sneaker

Today we would like to share a fun and pretty useful tutorial created by photoshoptutorials.ws – a leading online resource for all things photoshop. This tutorial will have you creating an Adidas sneaker from scratch entirely with Photoshop. Normally I would recommend constructing illustrations like this inside of Illustrator, this way you keep everything vector and can scaled up if need be, however it is good to know this kind of technique in Photoshop as well. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create the majority of the shapes with the Pen tool and use different techniques for coloring and shading. Give it a shot and you might learn something new! Head over to photoshoptutorials.ws now and check out this awesome tutorial on how to create an Adidas sneaker. Get creative!

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Daily Inspiration #115 – Illustrations by DXTR, Best of 2010

Every day we’ll be uploading content on our blog that we feel is inspirational. If you’re stuck and in a rut on a particular project and you are looking for a way out, look through our daily inspiration and see if anything strikes your interest. Maybe you will find a certain image or a particular element that will bring your next project to life. We love all forms of art – from digital art, photography, street art, web design, sculptures and paintings. If we think it’s cool, we’ll share it with you. :)

Today we would like to share some awesome illustrations from German artist DXTR. DXTR creates a lot of interesting designs for t-shirts, posters, print and the web. He has a unique style and does a great job at theming his illustrations, making each element fit with one another. Check out a few of his best illustrations from 2010 below, after that head over to his Behance portfolio to view more of his work. Get inspired!

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Interview – Graphic Designer Kevin Lucius

Recently we interviewed with graphic designer Kevin Lucius. Kevin is the Senior Designer at InsuranceAgents.com, the Creative Director at Technori.com, and the co-owner of LuciusJewelry.com. He has been in the industry for several years now, and has a lot of experience under his belt. He has many different design styles, which is a great skill to obtain if you work with multiple types of clients. Below is the interview we conducted with Kevin, which also contains some samples of his graphic design work. Head over to his personal website when you’re finished to view his full portfolio. Keep up the great work Kevin!

Age: 29

Websites: www.kevinlucius.com, etsy.com/shop/LUCIUSart

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview, why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself.

My name is Kevin Lucius and I am a 29 year old Graphic Designer from Chicago. Currently I’m probably taking on more than I’m capable of handling… I am the Creative Director at InsuranceAgents.com & Technori.com (An online Chicago Entrepreneur publication), Co-owner of LuciusJewelry.com with my wife, and I sell prints and teeshirts of my artwork. I enjoy being busy though so it’s all good.

Many people believe that you have to know how to draw to be a graphic designer; do you believe that is true?

I think the ability to draw is definitely very helpful in the graphic design field. I can draw alright I think. There are certainly people that are much better than me. I think overall the more you know about art in general the better. If you can draw, paint, & sculpt things out of clay then that’s awesome. Those are going to be skills that are going to be helpful to you at some point down the line.

Who is your favorite artist?

My favorites are probably Mark Weaver http://mrkwvr.com/, Scott Hansen http://iso50.com/iso50.html, Albert Cerriteno http://www.albertocerriteno.com/, & Cristiana Couceiro http://www.cristianacouceiro.com/

What suggestions or tips can you give someone who is aspiring to become a graphic designer?

My biggest suggestion would be to take your time and learn the basics. I think their are a lot of talented designers out there that can do some incredible things in Photoshop. But if you don’t learn the basic principles of design you’re missing out on a lot of important skills. Pick up an old book and learn some things about typography, alignment, and color. Styles and trends in design change but these principles always apply.

Before you begin working on a new project, where do you draw your inspiration?

It’s a big cliche to say that you draw inspiration from everything around you, so I’m not going to say that. haha. I guess It depends what the project is. If its a logo design then I will sometimes visit www.logopond.com. If I’m doing a website I will check out www.cssmania.com. This will often get the gears turning a little bit. From there I will sit down with a pen and paper and start sketching. A lot of times I will already have an idea in my head when I read the project brief. Then its just a matter of getting that design or concept onto paper.

When you are in the process of creating a design, is there something you do that saves you time?

I think having a good idea of what you want to do before you hit the computer will save you time. I will sketch things out on paper and will force myself to stay away from Photoshop until I have a clear idea of what I want to do. Sometimes its hard to do but it’s worth it.

In your daily process of being a graphic designer, what are a few websites that you frequent?

SmashingMagazine.com
FFFFound.com
underconsideration.com/quipsologies/
underconsideration.com/brandnew/

What computer program do you find yourself in most?

Definetely Photoshop. I think a lot of designers would say the same thing. Their is no denying its power. It’s my go-to program and the one that I am most comfortable working in.

What are some strategies you can offer that you used to grow as a designer?

I think you need to be open to critisism. It can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow, especially starting out, but you can gain a lot of insight from other people when you do so. Of course reading books and articles can be really good too. If you are serious about design you should never stop learning. That is why I have the phrase “This work is never done” on my website. It’s a reminder to myself to never settle and keep working to get better.

When not staring at a computer, what do you like to do for fun?

Sometimes it feels like that is the only thing I do. But when I do get away I enjoy hanging out with my wife, drinking some good craft beer, eating, and playing some wii.

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Free Textures/Stock Images – Extreme Close-Ups (Macro)

Our free textures/stock images today consist of 8 extreme close up macro shots. These textures are 100% free to download and free for personal and commercial use. However, please credit Smartpress when possible – we appreciate it! These shots feature close-ups of walls, lights, dust, carpet and more. Below you will find the 8 various macro shots. To download them, click on the images below and you will be taken to the high resolution version where you can right-click and save. :) What kind of textures do you guys want to see next? Metals? Clouds? Sand? If you name it, I can get it (within reason of course) – Leave your comment below and tell us what what kinds of textures you would like to see featured on Smartpress. Get creative!

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