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August 16, 2010

Interview with Chris Spooner: I’m forever experimenting and trying out new things

Chris Spooner is one of the most successful freelance designers. Chris blogs at blog.spoongraphics.com and line25.com and currently lives in Sheffield, United Kingdom.

Chris describes himself as a creative Designer, avid Blogger and generally crazy about pretty colours and shapes. Chris Spooner kindly accepted to offer an interview for the Propeople Blog. So let's get right to it!

1. What does a Chris Spooner usual day look like?

Awake to my fiancee's alarm clock, followed by a series of jabs to the ribs to and commands to get out of bed. Breakfast and a venture out with the pooch. Sit down at the computer and plan out my daily tasks. I'll usually work on a couple of projects per day, one in the morning and something different in the afternoon. During my day I'll regularly check Twitter and follow interesting design links. I'll usually break off around 5-6 in the evening then we usually enjoy either a trip to the cinema, a workout at the gym or a relaxing night in front of the TV.

2. What is the best advice you whish someone gave you when you were just starting out as a designer?

One tip I wish I'd taken on board in my early days was not to be afraid of putting your own opinion across to clients. Usually a horrendous change or request can be avoided if you give your opinion as a designer and follow it up with an alternative solution. For instance, the client might say, "I want the text to be bright yellow against a orange background" (We've all been there...). Instead of giving in and destroying your design, offer an alternative and back it up with information on how it would improve the usability, user experience or potential profits.

3. When did you build your first website and what’s the story behind it? My first website I think was an account on GeoCities, it was dedicated to photos and information about the mountain biking I used to do when I was younger.

4. Do you have a work that you are particularly proud of?

My blog over at Blog.SpoonGraphics is one project I always cite as being the one I'm most proud of. Even though it's a personal project that I created just to experiment with WordPress. The site has grown to unbelievable level and has been the root of basically every project I've worked on since as most of my clients find me through my articles and blog posts.

5. Is there a habit that you would consider essential to your success as a freelance designer?

I'm quite an analytical person in general life - If there's something that sparks my interest I just have to extensively research it and fill my brain with everything there is to know about that subject. There's no doubt this habit is the reason why I'm forever experimenting and trying out new things in my design apps.

6. You are a source of inspiration for a lot of designers. We’d like to know who inspires you.

I usually find inspiration from the whole design community, as I browse my RSS feeds I always come across work that inspires me to create higher quality work myself. If I was to pick out one person James White from Signal Noise is one designer/artist that always enthuses me to take the time to create more personal work and general artwork rather than basing your work on the requirements of others, as we do with client work.

7. Have you considered starting a Web Design firm? Do you see yourself leading a team of designers or working for one yourself?

I think I'll always work for myself. If not I'll join a team of others but I don't think I'd hire under my own brand or business.

8. When Hollywood stars get their Oscars they usually thank someone for their achievement. If you received an Oscar in your line of work, whom would you thank?

I'd thank the Internet for giving me the opportunity, and all the people who have stopped by on my blog to check out my posts.

9. Besides design, are there any other passions you can’t live without?

I don't really have any passions in my life like the one I have for design. I tend to go through phases of different hobbies. I used to be a keen downhill mountain biker but haven't ridden for over a year!

10. You have a rather personal video blog at chrisspooner.com. Does it help you in your professional activity?

I wouldn't say it brings in the level of work requests like my main design blogs, but it probably helps in a round-about way - It gives an insight into my personality, which helps generate that connection between me and those people watching. People like to know who they're giving their money to, especially on the Internet where everyone has a degree of anonymity. The videos are a great way of providing some transparency.

11. People like to interview Chris Spooner. What was the best question you were asked and what did you answer?

"If you were a super hero, which one would you be and why?" I answered: "I've always been a Batman fan, so I'd have to choose old Brucie. Otherwise maybe SpoonMan could emerge onto the scene as the latest kick-ass hero."

12. You have a brilliant Labrador Retriever named Jake. Does he contribute to your design projects? :)

He's still learning the basics of HTML and CSS, but he did a great job on his own website over at http://jakethelab.com/ ;-) Seriously though, I always try to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. With Jake's site I combined the need of somewhere to store all my doggie photos from my iPhone and my interest in giving the Tumblr platform a try. The result is a Tumblr site that's updated daily with dog photos, it's pretty sad but provides some enjoyment to a handful of Jake fans. It will also be fun to look back in 10 years time to relive all his current 10-month old antics.

13. Thank you Chris, it has been an honor!

Thank you! The pleasure is all mine.

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