It was exciting to be able to talk with Simon for this week’s interview, and even more exciting to have the first interview from around the world! Simon is a talented letterer currently living in Sweden who was gracious enough to set up a time to chat. He has done fantastic work for clients around the world such as 8 faces and The Salvation Army.
Thanks, it means a lot to hear that.
It was a really fun piece to work on. I had a lot of freedom, but in the end was able to make something nice. Iʼm not necessarily aligned with the Salvation Army, but it was for a good cause.
I live in Sweden currently, in a small town called Växjö, about 4 hours from Stockholm. I work from home, itʼs pretty good at the moment. I would really like to sit among other creatives. It doesnʼt have to even be designers, just creative people. Something I need to look into for the future.
I went to a school called Hyper Island, in their digital media program. I think it was a bit too much about social media, apps and things, but I deﬁnitely learned a lot of networking skills, so it was beneﬁcial for me. Before I was… I donʼt know if scared is the right word, but I was scared to tweet and all that.
I felt that nobody really gave a shit about what I was saying, but now I realize you can reach out to so many different people. Now I feel like Iʼve got a better web presence, with things like twitter and tumblr, etc. That makes it really easy to work from a small town, thereʼs only about 75,000 people here but Iʼm able to work with agencies from all around the world. I’d say I have the internet to thank for that.
So I graduated from Hyper Island in June and Iʼve been freelancing the whole time. Now Iʼm running full time since July, I think. I feel privileged to draw letters for a living! Itʼs surreal to me, itʼs hard for me to grasp that I can sit at home drawing some fucking letters and be able to pay rent. Itʼs deﬁnitely cool.
Yea, I think so. Sometimes it gets pretty lonely, but as I said before if you can ﬁnd a space with other creatives that can be a good solution. Iʼm not really the kind of guy who wants a boss, I like being a boss and choosing my own projects. When I was an employee I felt like I didnʼt really want to do some things but felt like I had to just because I was paid to. As a freelancer you have the ability to say no to projects you donʼt want and ﬁnd ones you like.
Yea, especially the freedom. I went to New York a few months ago and worked from there. Thatʼs so crazy that I can work from wherever I need to! I donʼt think I want to end up at an agency, at least for now. Who knows what will happen in a few years, but for now I love freelancing.
I guess itʼs all about ﬁnding new ways to interact letters with each other. Every time I ﬁnd a solution it makes me keep wanting to create for another year or so (laughs). I suppose itʼs the drive to coming up with new solutions that I havenʼt seen before that drives me to create each day. I enjoy making things a bit prettier every day, I suppose… Was that a good answer? (laughs)
I donʼt even know where to begin (laughs). I think Iʼve been doing this for about three years now, and Iʼm learning new things every day. When I think of the word failure, I always think of the communication part. Many times before I would say “Yea, I can make a logo for X amount” but I didnʼt say how many revisions there would be, all of that. All of a sudden, I would ﬁnd myself doing ten rounds of revisions for a shitty amount of money.
Every new project I really try to write down absolutely everything thatʼs included in the quote. I keep revising and adding things all the time. That email looks so boring, but itʼs good for both me and the client. I would say communication is my biggest failure so far.
I think every project has ended pretty well if you evaluate it by how it looks. I have a policy that i donʼt want to send stuff that Iʼm not satisﬁed with or the client isnʼt satisﬁed with. I keep working on it until both parties are satisﬁed, even though sometimes I work for free… But in the long run I think the best thing is to have satisﬁed clients.
I think I work the same as I worked before. Itʼs all about the stuff you discuss before the project, I suppose. One thing I didnʼt do before was ask for references. I was always so excited to start I didnʼt ask the right kinds of questions. now I tend to ask more to ﬁnd out what they really want. They may want a “script”, but I can make so many types of scripts! I need to iron it out to ﬁnd out what they want before I spend hours on nothing.
Exactly, but sometimes you get so excited you can forget!
Of course I want everything to be perfect, but every client is different. You canʼt be 100% sure that youʼre always doing things right. It varies. Sometimes you get along really well with them and almost become a friend to them, which is great.
I donʼt think you can always prevent things from happening, just because everyoneʼs different.
Many times I think the client has a picture in their head that we canʼt see. They want it to look like X, but we canʼt read their minds. It feels like designers should be mind readers, too! (laughs) Sometimes you nail it, but often you can show them something that youʼre so satisﬁed with and you think is the solution, and theyʼre like “What the fuck is this? This isnʼt what I asked for!” but it looks like the references they give you. I think both clients and designers need to be better at communication.
Exactly. You canʼt be a mind reader, I guess.
The best thing is to take a step back and calm down. I can often get frustrated in the process, but itʼs better to step back. If you were the client, what would you feel if you were talking to me, and vice versa? Just relax, and then try to solve the problem. Come up with a solution that both parties are satisﬁed with, itʼs so important to have satisﬁed clients but also be proud of what you make.
Exactly. They come to you because they think youʼre good, want something good and pay you for it! You should really strive to communicate and be as good as possible. I think in order for a project to be successful design is 10% and communicating is 90%. Youʼll get better and better with each project.
Yea, for sure. itʼs really good to reﬂect, I donʼt reﬂect that much just work, work, work. Itʼs been great to talk about this!