Interview with real people, knowing true stories and learning from a fellow creative, this is UCreative Spotlight.
The season of spring has just started but we bring you more inspiring stories to keep you warm and driven.
This month, let us welcome Brian Hoff of The Design Cubicle.
Q: What inspired you to become a designer?
I’ve always been into the Arts starting at an early age. I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was younger. I’ve also been a computer dork for sometime now. It just felt right to merge the two. My curiosity, strange need to organize, and passion on typography fueled the rest of the way.
Q: Based on your experience, what are the advantages/disadvantages of working alone/in a team?
Having the ability to have all/most of my ideas come to fruition is certainly one of the best advantages, however it can also serve as a disadvantage. Sometimes it’s nice to have others to bounce ideas off of. Having friends more talented than you make up for this disadvantage.
Q: Favorite style that you often use in your projects.
I actually try my best to stay away from style. I find that it limits the work you do and the work you could potentially do. Clients will often hire designers based on the work they’ve done in the past or their reputations. If you’re sticking to a particular style you’re limiting your potential client list.
Q: How do you deal with pressure?
I do my very best to manage all and any expectations very early. Often as early as the initial phone calls. This helps to keep things in perspective and keeps the project, client and goals from spiraling.
Q: Tell us one thing people might be surprised to know about you.
I’ll give you three things from different periods of my life: when I was really little I refused to eat off a table that had crumbs on it. During my early teens I was a really strong swimmer. I used to race on a team against kids 3–5 years older than me. Last and currently, my entire life whenever I have music playing I always “rock” back and forth (mostly without knowing). People that see me in my car and working at my desk always laugh because they say I can’t sit still when music is on. I guess music just moves me – literally.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
I love print design and typography. I find magazine layouts and print publications very inspiring. A well designed magazine often acts a as playground for the content and imagery discussed on the page.
The layout and type function as part of the content. The page doesn’t serve as a dumping ground for text. I try to bring the same life to the web. Dynamic layouts that tell a story and guide the user down the page and throughout the entire site.
Q: What's your dream design project?
I really enjoy working on content heavy sites like news website. Working with grids and typography excites me. I also enjoy working on interface design. The thought of thousands of people interacting with and using a service / product that inhibits their daily life is a great feeling (and very scary).
Q: The real vs. the imaginary. Choose one.
To be honest, my personality is a bit of both. When it comes to day to day life, I can be an extreme realist. My work allows me to break free from that side though.
Q: Describe your workplace.
Well my family and I just moved a few months ago so our home office is a work in progress. My wife Kathleen, who’s also a designer, and I have a large book collection so we’d like the office to have wall-to-wall shelving displaying our books. We’d also like to have a large desk attached to 3 sides of the room so we can spread out a bit. Also, our goal is to have a round table in the center of the room so we can step away from our desks if need be, or used as a crafting table (Kathleen likes her crafts and painting). While it’s still coming together, the room consists of a West Elm desk and a pile of boxes containing all of our books behind me.
Q: Where do you find yourself when you’re not in the mood for creating or teaching anything?
Playing with my son, joking around with my wife, cooking or taking care of the lawn. Our 7 month-old is a sure guarantee to take any mood and make it the best mood ever. A simple smile from him is a powerful boost of pure amazing. I also enjoy cooking and good food. My wife and I love to try different food and will eat honestly anything. During the spring and summer we love our herb and veggie garden which brings fresh ingredients to the kitchen.
Q: For a renowned graphic and web designer like you, what is adventure?
I am certainly a person that likes to work hard so I can enjoy life with my family. I try not to be a workaholic. Some like to live to work, yet I feel the opposite. I’m quite happy, content and grateful for where I am right now. I’ve been lucky to have really great clients that trust me and my decisions, while also pushing me to do the best work I can do.
The adventure is the ride getting to where you want to go. To me, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be 100% satisfied with my work. I see this as a good thing though. It keeps things exciting, forces me to learn more and I enjoy learning new things and re-thinking the old.
From A Man of Substance
Q: Do you have any design-related books you would highly recommend?
Sure do. I keep an updated Amazon list [http://behoff.com/FVdn] for my readers as well. The list consists of the books I can stand behind and have helped my career.
Q: As a teacher and designer, what do you think is the most important quality a person must have to become an excellent designer?
This goes for any career, but you need passion and curiosity.
Q: How do you get your name out there?
Have a strong opinion, do something different, do something well, make friends (not “business contacts”), and share your knowledge and opinion.
Q: Where can we find you online? (blog, twitter, fb, etc.)
Portfolio: http://behoff.com/FVDT (building out a new company site so this is a temporary work display)
Q: Do you think passion is overrated? Why or why not?
Heck no. Without passion you will never reach your farthest potential. Without passion work is a job.
Q: What would be that one thing which will make you quit designing?
I’ve actually been thinking about this question a lot lately. My wife and I were talking about retirement (one day obviously), but it had my thinking that I’m not sure if I’d ever want to retire from my work. If I wasn’t physically designing, I’d want to in some way give back or participate in my field. Maybe I’d write a book. Boredom might lead me to other things one day. Who knows.
Q: Aside from a graphic designer, web designer, and a teacher, how else would you like to be known for?
Getting people off their butt to do the things they love. All the greatest things in my life have come due to taking a risk. Everyone deserves to wake up in the morning and get excited about their day and the work that lies ahead. If you’re work is a job, then figure out what you love and pursue that. And work hard to get there. I’m not sure who said it, but “your career should be what you find yourself doing when you should be working instead.”
Brian’s story can be summarized into this simple group of words -- Work because you want to, not because you have to. And it takes so much guts to give everything up for that one thing which sometimes doesn’t always prove to be an effective means of living, yet will surely keep you happy. To those who haven’t found it yet, just dream and keep those hopes up. It’s never too late.