Wave Winner Spotlight: Sam Aylard
Sam Aylard was deservedly one of the top 5 winners for Wave #2.
He was gracious enough to take some time and let us into his world.
Let’s dive in!
What’s your background and what led you to become a graphic designer?
My journey from crayon drawings to design agency work is relatively simple. I have always been involved in some aspect of creativity from a young age, whether that be sketching cartoon characters, making crappy videos of BMX, or designing random posters that at the time I thought were amazing.
Looking back at all these things now they are ropey at best, but I now realize I was laying the foundations of my creative mind, that I constantly draw on today for all manner of personal and client projects. Throughout school I did all I could to follow the graphic design/art route, and was lucky enough that my parents fully supported my ambitions and didn’t push me into any specific area.
My dad worked at a printers for 25 years, so he understood that things need to be designed and that this was my thing. I guess this is where my love of all things print came about, spending time in the factory on school holidays, getting my grubby mitts on different paper stocks and inhaling the smell of fresh ink.
When university came round it was a no-brainer what I was going to study! At the end of year show John and Sarah from The Hideout came to see everyones work, we met, we chatted, and thats where the next stage of my design career began.
Three years on from that show and I am now fully immersed in the world of design and agency life everyday, bashing out logos and other designs, and now getting recognized for them by sites like Logo Wave.
I still feel like I am only just starting my career, but I look forward to many more years doing drawing for a living.
What do you enjoy most about being in the creative field?
What I love most about being in the creative industry is being inspired. When inspiration properly hits and you get a flood of ideas, its such a good feeling. However, I’m gonna be honest, being in the creative industry can be frustrating, all-consuming and very hard at times, but the rewards make all the hard work worth it. I can’t see myself in any other field of work.
Tell us about your logo process.
Logo design for me always starts with a piece of paper and pencil, just sketching down any initial ideas that come into my head, even if they have no chance of ever working.
I just need to get them out of my head, to make room for the good ideas. I have never been able to do this with a blank Illustrator document and the pen tool. Traditional methods all the way! Once the initial sketches are down, I get a better picture of the routes I want to take to develop forward.
The next step is to delve into the land of pen points and bezier curves, always starting the logo in black so that it works in the simplest form. Then after hours of adjusting, developing and refining, the finished logo comes out the other end all shiny and new.
Then I realize something else needs changing and it goes back into the process for bit and eventually comes out even shiner and even newer.
Ever have creative block? If yes, how do you manage it?
I don’t think I would be a designer if I didn’t haha! I find that creative block normally strikes when working on something for a long time, getting to a point on a project when I have almost exhausted myself of ideas is when it can happen for me.
Even if timescales are tight, I try to step away completely for a day or two and just have nothing to do with anything design related, then when I return to it, suddenly it all clicks.
What person has had the most positive impact on your career and why?
It is probably a cliché thing to say but my university tutor was the first person who made me believe in my design work. I was and still am a very humble person, who doesn’t really like to blow my own trumpet about my work.
He made me see that my work ethic was well suited to the creative industry and my way of thinking was something I should never lose, and was worth shouting about.
Any design books or blogs you would like to share?
One book I would recommend every designer reads is Aaron Draplin’s ‘Pretty Much Everything’. It’s one of the few design books I have read from cover to cover and it really made me feel motivated to just design stuff, think less about profit and get back to doing what I love.
Also, Draplin is such a dude! We went as a team to see him talk at an Adobe event in London, and it made me love the man even more. #thicklinesforever
Where do you get the best boost of design inspiration?
The classics of course, Pinterest, Instagram, Dribbble, however more recently, Muzli. This is a design inspiration tool that I have installed on my browser.
It quite often starts a bout of procrastination, but along with that, it shows me websites and other designs I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Another way I gain inspiration is to browse through the magazine section of shop, I seek out the quirky and edgy looking ones, gazing over the photography and slick design cues like a kid in a sweet shop.
A few that have stuck with me and i frequently look out for are Huck, Smith’s Journel and Little White Lies. Check them out if you see them on the shelves.
What do you like most about being part of the design team at The Hideout?
Having been part of the team for 3 years now, I feel like The Hideout is my family, we joke, we argue and we talk about utter nonsense. But most importantly, we work together to create sick designs.
There is always going to be a sense of competition between us, over who’s design wins the job or persuades the client, but we all appreciate when a design just works and this spurs us on to create even better designs. I’d say the unofficial catchphrase of the design team is ‘We are the s***!’.
This is shouted on occasions where things have gone particularly well on a job, but one particular occasion that sticks out was when John, my Creative Director at The Hideout won the ‘OMBles OMBle of the Year’ title at last years One Minute Briefs Live event in Manchester, UK. It felt like a team win for all the hard work over the year, and set us up for a promising 2017 for #teamhideout.
What makes a logo design go from good to great?
I feel a logo becomes great when it is relevant to the company and not just there to look pretty, this can be very subtle, but the most successful logos, more often than not, have a link back to the company’s history or ethos. Another thing that makes a logo great for me is clarity at all sizes.
The logo needs to work on a business card all the way to a the size of a building, if it doesn’t translate across all media, then for me it fails as a logo.
Curious, what attracted you to Logo Wave?
It was initially suggested by John and I thought ‘yeah, why not!?’. I looked into the site further and it seemed like a cool new way to get your logos out there, and being so reasonably priced it was a no-brainer to enter, and it has paid off!
What would you say to logo designers who are either on the fence, or don’t know a lot about Logo Wave?
Logo Wave is an awesome introduction into the logo competition world, with the price being so affordable it allows anyone to compete with their best designs again potentially top designers and agencies. The format of the ‘waves’ is a really fun way to keep it as an ongoing competition, building a bank of so many brilliant logo designs.
If you could design for any business, who would it be and why?
At some point I would love to completely design a bands identity and artwork. It frustrates me when a band have inconsistent designs and change logos from album to album, sometimes it works, but most of the time it pains me.
How would you describe being a designer in 140 characters or less?
For me being a designer consists of being frustrated most of the time, then really happy with your designs, then frustrated again. But I love it!
What advice would you give to your fellow creatives?
Over the years I have learned that designs very rarely appear on the page straight away, and it is very easy to get frustrated when the logos don’t pop out of the canvas.
DON’T give up. Actually, DO give up, but only for a bit.
It’s simple really but I find that regular breaks help workflow no end, even when the deadline is tight, always make time to throw a few darts, get a fresh glass of juice or just go outside and breath some fresh air. Even a trip to the toilet can yield a spark of inspiration, in fact my best ideas often come on while gazing over the porcelain.