An Interview with Graphic Designer, Brian Hoff

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Introduction

Brian Hoff is a one of those folks in the design community that make logo design look effortless. His logos are sleek and elegant. A fantastic acid test for a logo is how well it displays in black and white. Given that Brian’s logo gallery is entirely in black and white, yet looks stunning, I’d say he gets an ‘A’ on that test. Oh yeah, he is also a very good web designer and blogger. Brian was kind enough to answer some questions here on MyInkBlog, check out the insight he shares in the answers that follow.

Brian Hoff Hi Brian, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for MyInkBlog readers. Please start by telling us a little about yourself, and how you got started in design? Are you self-taught or did you go to college for design?

I’m an independent graphic designer living in Philadelphia, PA specializing in branding, logo and website design. I’m a graduate of Tyler School of Art with a BFA in Graphic & Interactive Design – although I am mostly self-taught in software and through continued learning.

I love the style of the logos you create. Can you talk a little about your design process?

My design process always starts out with a pencil and paper. I typically start mind-mapping to get keywords and imagery ideas flowing and then start rough sketches concepts and logotypes. Once I feel like I have a solid direction I want to pursue I then bring my ideas to the computer – then continues on to client feedback, changes, more feedback, changes etc.

You can read more about my creative process here: http://www.thedesigncubicle.com/2009/05/11-steps-of-a-successful-logo-design-process/

crazy-eight

There is a big gap between amateur and professional looking logo design. What would you say are the biggest factors that can take a logo design from good to great?

Typography without a doubt. Having a relevant typeface to compliment a mark is key and also having well set type is essential.

unicenter

Sometimes it’s difficult to get started on a project, and brainstorm design ideas. How do you get inspired and stay motivated?

I stay inspired through many methods but being active in the design community is my biggest source of inspiration. I have thousands of well organized bookmarks and I use LittleSnapper for scrap booking inspiration.

I’ve been very interested lately in gaining some insight from other designers about how they manage their time. With all the projects that you do, how do you manage to find time for everything? Do you utilize any apps/software to help organize and prioritize your to-do list?

I for one do not manage my time well at all… mainly because I work a lot, but at the end of the day I love what I do and love to work hard at it. For management and organizing I use Things for tasks and Subernova for project management.

What are some of your favorite design blogs that you read?

Coming for a guy that subscribes to over 300+ I would have to say I Love Typography, Carsonified, and A List Apart. Also, Jacob Cass’ Just Creative Design and David Airey’s blog – two blogs which inspired me to start my own. I have always enjoy the perfect balance of personal and professional in both of their blogs.

What tools are in your designer’s toolbox that would be tough to live without? Software, apps, hardware, books or otherwise?

Funny you have asked this question since I had just finished added a ‘How I Get It Done’ section to my ‘About’ page on my personal site, www.brianhoff.net.

For hardware and software I use daily:

Also I am absolutely obsessed with design books, of which I try to buy a new one every other week. A few most-own books are:

Mac or PC, why?

As an ex-Apple software trainer for 4 years, definitely a Mac. The OS is by far the most intuitive and they are just downright sexy – sorry I nerded out for a minute!

When you are not blogging, designing or otherwise behind the computer, what do you enjoy doing to step away for a while?

Wait there are things to do besides the above? Man, I must be missing out! I guess if I had a life besides the following I love to travel, take out my waverunner, eat new and strange food (I will literally try anything) and listen to music. 

Thanks again, for doing this interview. In closing, what sort of advice would you give someone who is just getting started in design?

A quote that has helped me through my career to improve is

“the most successful designers master the art of staying in school.”

Resources are a designers best friend and passion for what you do will get you to where you need to be. Also, build trust and relationships and the rest will soon follow.

Brian Around the Web

Final Thoughts

You’ve reached the end of this interview, but if you have a question, comment, or just want to say hi to Brian, please drop a comment below.

About the Author

Andrew is a primary contributer for MyInkBlog. He is a full time web developer for Niagara University. When he's not working there, he's a blogger, twitter'er, wordpress'er, silverstripe advocate, blessed father and husband.

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  • http://www.thisisaaronslife.com Aaron Irizarry

    Great Interview!
    Thanks for the insight in your answers Brian, I know a lot of us are going to benefit from your thoughts on design process, inspiration, and your passion for what you do.

    “the most successful designers master the art of staying in school.”

    great quote!

    thanks again

    ~ Aaron I
    .-= Aaron Irizarry´s last blog ..Tips For Better Form Design #3 =-.

  • http://www.photodesigners.net Samuel

    Brian is one of the better designers I ever seen on internet, also his articles on The Design Cubicle blog are so helpful to me.

    Really nice interview, thanks!.
    .-= Samuel´s last blog ..Tutorial: Crea un Wallpaper Texturizado Multicolor en Photoshop. =-.

  • http://www.littleboxofideas.com Sneh Roy

    Always a pleasure reading more about people you follow and admire :)

    Thanks for a great interview Brian and Andrew!
    .-= Sneh Roy´s last blog ..Weekly iPhone Wallpapers #58 3D Type Twitter =-.

  • http://TheAdamJanes.com TheAdamJanes

    Great article. Unfortunatly I can’t try those applications that were recommended because “I’m a PC”. ….I look forward to reading more in the future.

  • http://www.logodesignlove.com David Airey

    Thanks a lot for the mention, Brian. That’s a nice Samsung display. I’ll be shopping for a monitor soon enough, and I’ve always been happy with Samsung products. So one to keep in mind. Do you have a preference for it over an Apple display?
    .-= David Airey´s last blog ..The “I Love New York” logo =-.

  • http://www.thedesigncubicle.com Brian Hoff

    Aaron, Samuel and Sneh –

    Thanks for the kind words… really glad you have benefited from my experiences and blog. On my end, it really great to have some many awesome and talented people, like yourself, to reach out to. Again, thank you.

    David,
    No problem on the mention. Your blog has been an inspiration for myself and so many others – keep up the great work! As far as Samsung monitors go, having worked for Apple for nearly 4 years, all Apple monitors are Samsung parts (ssshhhh) All the underneath componets and LCDs are all manufactured by Samsung so there is no difference in the display’s results (except for price) My 23″ Samsung priced at $350 will match up to the $899 Apple 24″ any day. :)
    .-= Brian Hoff´s last blog ..Sweet Tweets: Design Resources of the Week #17 =-.

  • http://www.SohTanaka.com Soh Tanaka

    These kind of interviews are always so inspiring. Brian has an some serious skills, and his work is very impressive. Just subscribed to his RSS as well :-)

    Thanks for the interview~
    .-= Soh Tanaka´s last blog ..Greyscale Hover Effect w/ CSS & jQuery =-.

  • http://www.jadgraphics.net Jad Limcaco

    Brian Hoff has some awesome logos. His site looks very clean as well. That quote he gives at the end of the article is icing on the cake. Very good interview!

  • http://www.orphicpixel.com Mars

    that was a great interview, just want to inform you that i made a post featuring your blog
    .-= Mars´s last blog ..15 Daily Inspiration – All in one Pack websites =-.

  • http://www.logodesignlove.com David Airey

    Thanks for the tip, Brian. :) Great to know.
    .-= David Airey´s last blog ..The “I Love New York” logo =-.

  • http://www.carlsmart.co.uk Carl Smart

    Good interview, I really like the Suken & Stork Publishing logo. Its very slick! I love simple yet strong logo design that works well. I have a nice logo over on my blog under the category logo design ( Vietnamese Noodle Bar) I designed it over 6 years ago now and it still works well.

  • http://justcreativedesign.com Jacob Cass

    “the most successful designers master the art of staying in school.”

    I agree. There is no time when we can stop learning, it’s an ongoing process.

    Thanks for the mention as well Brian… you are certainly on the rise to the top. Gluck!

    Thanks for the links out to your software apps too, some new ones there, though many just for Mac. I need to consider a time management program too, atm it’s just my Google Mail Task bar.
    .-= Jacob Cass´s last blog ..Funny & Odd Emails Received =-.

  • http://digitalartempire.com/ Ben

    its good to see designers who utilise the power of the design online community like David and Brian – and jacob – together talking -still humble and down to earth -

    btw mindmapping is under used and immensly usefull :)
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..15 free high res, marbling textures,for personal and commercial use =-.

  • http://designeroff.wordpress.com sishimaru

    what a amazing day for me find out this very useful article..
    thanks to andrew and thanks to brian too ;)

    i’ll bookmark this page, GBU all
    .-= sishimaru´s last blog ..Tips menampilkan kontent dalam frontpage blog yang efektif =-.

  • http://robertoblake.com/ Roberto Blake

    Brian has been such a positive force in the design community and has definitely helped as designer and was one of my inspirations for starting a design blog myself.

    If you guys haven’t checked out thedesigncubicle.com you really should, its a great resource.

    Brian thanks for all of your hard work and the value you’ve added to the design community.
    .-= Roberto Blake´s last blog ..Interview With Digital Artist Kyle Lambert =-.

  • http://webprintbrand.com Bryan Moore Creative Design

    Excellent interview. It’s cool to see what established designers use and are inspired by. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • http://cairnslogo.com.au/ Cairns Logo Girl

    Thanks for the great interview. It can be really hard to find inspiration for my own designs, and Brian is so amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

    Keep writing, cheers!

  • http://www.zolderkamer72.nl Marcelopwerk

    I’m from Holland and your work is a true inspiration for me, not only your work but also your way of working.
    Love the links and love youre quote.

    (sorry for the crappy Englisch)

    keep up the good work!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/onebyonedesign Mansi

    Thanks for the lovely interview Brian and Andrew.

    And for the Samsung tip, Brian! =)