Here at Print Express we’ve been interviewing designers whose work we love, and our latest interview is with illustrator and designer Ben Stafford. He kindly agreed to be interviewed about where he gets inspiration from, how his studio approaches new projects and more – thanks for being on the blog Ben!
Can you give a bit of a background as to how you got started as a designer?
I had always been an artist so when it came to choosing a profession, graphic design seemed like the perfect fit. I went to Mount Vernon Nazarene University for graphic design and graduated in 2007. From then on, I had worked for a marketing agency as an Art Director for 6 years before joining my wife full time in 2013 to run our studio, Foxmeadow Creative.
Where do you get your inspiration from, and which other designers work do you admire?
That’s a big question! When I’m in the illustration mindset, I tend to get inspiration from animated movies and cartoons from Cartoon Saloon (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, Puffin Rock), graphic novels (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: IDW Series) and some wonderfully illustrated books (anything illustrated by Robert Hunter or Sanna Annukka).
When I design logos, I’m always referencing the classics (Chermayeff & Geismar, Paul Rand, Saul Bass, etc.). But there are some fantastic modern day logo designers who I admire just as much who aren’t as well known: Brandon Murray, Mike Smith (of Smith & Diction), Jay Fletcher and Jacob Scowden.
If you had to pick favourites, which of your designs do you like best?
That’s a horribly tough question. Would it be passé to say it’s like choosing a favorite child? My favorite logo I’ve ever done would probably have to be the Adoption Heart. Not only because I think it’s easily understood and recognizable, but also because it wasn’t just about our family’s adoption process. This was to ‘brand’ adoption as a whole. And since I’ve designed it, other families have used it for their adoption stories, fundraising and even tattoos! It’s remarkable really. A lot of love went into that logo and I think it shows.
What’s your process when you start a new project? Do you plan things out methodically or do you start sketching straight away?
When we start a logo project, we do as much information gathering as possible. I’d say we do 80% of the work upfront before even putting pen to paper. We need to know the client’s goals and understand them. The more you bring your client into things in the beginning, the less likely they’ll be surprised by anything in the end. That was the biggest lesson we learned in this process. Once we have a good direction and clear objectives, that’s when we start sketching!
Who would your dream client be?
For logo work, I’d love to work on a logo or badge to be used on U.S. military patches. Making something iconic and hopefully long-lasting would be a dream come true.
What tips would you give to someone looking to get into design?
Talk to as many professionals as possible. Everybody’s got a different point of view, but seasoned advice is incredibly helpful. There’s a lot you don’t know, so soak it up and try different processes until one works for you. Don’t be afraid to change your process along the way!
A huge thanks to Ben for agreeing to be interviewed – you can find more of his work on his Dribbble portfolio, personal website and at Foxmeadow Creative. You can also follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Check out our series of designer interviews here and find out more about our favourite artists.