Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Interview with Seth Arp

The Crew is pleased to bring you an interview with Seth Arp, from Alameda, California. He is a Creative Director for Paglo, an IT Search Engine. Seth's talented wife, Lindy, passed his name onto us and we couldn't be more excited to showcase this new designer, who also happens to be an amazing cartoonist. (I have included a few of his fun characters throughout the interview). Enjoy!

1. Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by my Wife and my Grandfather. My Wife is endlessly creative and good at solving even the oddest problems. Plus she has the same weird sense of humor as me. My Grandfather was an honest, hard-working man who got along with everybody. He loved to tell stories too.

This cartoon, Bill the IT Guy, was created for Seth's current job at Paglo.

2. Do you have a favorite designer?
Ed Welburn, Chief Designer at GM. He does a great job of explaining his designs in a very sophisticated, interesting manner. He makes you want to go out and buy one his cars.

3. One word to describe your design style:
A little all over the place. I like anything old-fashioned looking, so I gravitate towards old colors and old fonts and graphics. But I also like experimenting with styles that I’m not initially comfortable with. More recently at my current job ( the desired result was to design the brand, site, and product to have a fresh Web 2.0 style treatment, which was a style I wasn’t familiar with how to replicate. It was a challenge to get that look right, but ultimately rewarding to learn a few new tricks.

4. What frustrates you most about design (or your biggest pet peeve)?
Trying to visualize a complete project when there’s nothing to see. I get a little frazzled when I start a totally new project, have an ideal look I want to accomplish, yet can’t totally replicate it on the screen.

5. If you could design or redesign anything, what would it be?
California roads and freeways. Not sure where you all are from, but if you ever visit, drive in Berkeley. I’m not sure who designed their grid, but its designed to make getting around there about as difficult as humanly possible ( which is one of the reasons I moved to another Bay Area city) The freeways don’t make sense either. I’m originally from TN and if you got off the freeway, you could get right back on. Not out here. The entrance might be 2-3 miles down a two lane street or who knows where. When I first moved here almost 9 years ago, I got lost every single day.

6. What’s the strangest request you’ve received from a client?
I had to make an animated cartoon for cell phones that was all about a crazy pigeon with a speech impediment who also happened to like French fries. “Sadly”, the project was scrapped after one episode.

7. Favorite color?
Used to be orange, now probably blue.

8. Favorite font?
Boring ole’ Verdana. At least today because my job has me designing lots of UI, and Verdana seems to always look great even if it is aliased and tiny.

9. East coast or West coast?
I’ve lived on both coasts. West coast for sure for none other than the weather.

10. Name one product/gadget can you not live without?
Gas engines. I love tinkering with small engines, so for me, having one around gives me something to fix. I got into lawn mower racing a few years ago, which has been a great creative outlet for me. When I’m not working, I gravitate towards things that are far removed from design. I guess racing garden tractors is as about as extreme in the opposite end as it gets.

11. Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession?
I’d say that these days you kind of have to be a jack of all trades kind of person. Learn as much as possible in regards to design, current trends, and programs. Pay attention to what other companies do- particularly companies that are competitors to whatever company you’re working for. See what works for them. Make your own spin, or design something that works better. Remember that more often than not, consumers will be buying products that you design for. So always look at it from a consumer perspective… even if the design to get it done is actually kind of fugly. Sometimes function is far more attractive than design.

12. If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do?
Not exactly sure. I’d love to have a small repair shop of some sort repairing, mechanical objects, toasters, mowers, vacuum cleaners, etc. But the problem is that things like that are so cheap to buy, people probably just throw them away versus having them fixed. Then again, I had no idea I’d be doing graphic design for a living, so perhaps anything is possible.

13. What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
That more often then not, you’re designing for the client and not yourself. I now appreciate what the client wants and to listen to what they are envisioning. But in the beginning… boy it was a bit rocky! You have to be a good communicator and at first, I wasn’t that good at collaborating with other people.

14. Tell us three things about yourself that no one else knows.
That's a hard one since my Wife probably knows all these anyway.

1: I was scared of night lights as a kid. I think it was because mine was blue, and since I was also scared to death of pools and swimming until I was 7 years old, the color reminded me of pools.

2: When I was also a small child, I saw a can of tomato juice sitting in the downstairs of our house. I loved tomato juice and immediately drank it… which turned out to be my Dad’s friend’s chewing tobacco can. I get sick just typing that!

3: I secretly like French pop rap and pop music. I actively listen to alternative country and Americana like bluegrass and western swing, but for some reason get a kick out of some of the overly hooky French stuff.

To see more of Seth's work visit his website:

[CrewDesign is always on the lookout for creative talent. If you, or someone you know, would like to be a featured artist please email us at] ••••

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