Digital designer Gary Revell is based out of south-London, we talk to him about his route through education, sneakers, hip-hop, his favourite projects & more.
“Sheffield is a fantastic city with a real kind friendly feel to it. I’d recommend anyone to study in Sheffield as it has an incredible zeitgeist in particular if you’re into outdoor sports.”– Gary Revell
Who is Gary Revell? How did you first get involved in the creative industries?
Gary Revell is me, a 25 year old digital designer based in south-london. I’ve always been a geek. I remember around the age of 15 one summer I worked with my uncle as lift engineer, an obvious hard ‘hands on’ physical job. I thought to myself that I never want a job like this ever again.
I’ve always had an inkling that I wanted to work with computers not a programming role. My first actual paid work was in my first year at uni my tutor recommended me to a woman who required Koran comic books translated into English. It just required removing existing Korean text over a series of pages, but it was a nice feeling getting paid to ‘play’ on Photoshop.
What was your route into education and then into the professional world of design?
Pretty standard really. I went from A levels straight to Sheffield Hallam university (after a brief week at Bournemouth uni) to study Multimedia & Communication Design. The course was good in many aspects as it provided an insight various creative areas including; design, development, video editing, and photography. This was quite ideal as at 18 I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to focus on.
After university I delayed getting into the ‘real world’ by taking a summer away coaching football (soccer) in Northern California. When I got back I started applying for various roles and internships, but not really getting any luck. So I started just looking for projects. I designed and built a website for a construction company, and then another site for a nursery and it sort of when on from there.
Would you recommend studying at Sheffield Hallam university to others?
Sheffield is a fantastic city with a real kind friendly feel to it. I’d recommend anyone to study in Sheffield as it has an incredible zeitgeist in particular if you’re into outdoor sports. Sheffield Hallam as a University on the whole is pretty good. Although the more I work and network within the industry I’d suggest that as a 18 -19 old designer I would have learned a hell of a lot more working 1 year at an agency than three years studying. Especially as uni is so expensive now I’d have to think very hard about going. But saying that going to university teaches you many life lessons, and how to survive on your own.
Did you find the transition from education to working the hardest step up?
I found that one of the most significant differences between working on design projects in an educational setting and a professional environment is speed. I spent a brief stint in a small design agency in London, and although the standard of my work was fine I felt that I was a lot slower than the other designers. They were churning out designs, and I was taking twice as long. Half of this was down to a lack of confidence and the other was speed. Since then I’ve been in and out of agencies and my confidence has grown and I’m aware of what is expected. I’ve also tuned up on my shortcuts, and although I’m always learning I don’t make the silly mistakes I once did.
What designers and creative studios inspire or influence your work and values today?
I’ve always liked the work and blog of designer Chris Spooner. I’ve been following his graphic tutorials for years. It was his character illustration tutorials that inspired me to devote alot of time on illustrator and to buy a graphics tab. I often check out Logo designer Graham Smith’s site as I admire his use of simplicity, minimal design and love for Helvetica. Looking at these guys work also gives me a great insight of how dedicated you have to be in order to succeed in this industry. I’m also a keen reader of David Airey Irish graphic designer and author of Logo Design love, and Work for Money Design for love.
Do you have a preference of where you get your inspiration from when working on new projects? Websites/magazines?
I use some of the standard sites like Smashing magazine etc. I do like the read Computer Arts projects although it’s quite expensive. I find the most useful and inspiring site to check is stumble upon.
I often think stumble upon is overlooked as an inspiration resource, what do you find yourself browsing the most?
Most of the graphic design blogs, and the high-end architecture sites are pretty inspiring. Guys who live in tree houses in the wilderness or people that have tiny flats in Manhattan but live with a minimalistic philosophy clean white surfaces with wooden floors.. Just makes me feel calm with no clutter. I try and incorporate this notion in my work.
If you really want to be inspired search “people are awesome” on YouTube. Or watch a movie called “i believe i can fly (flight of the frenchies)” that’s inspiration.
What have been some of your favorite projects to work on?
I’ve been lucky lately had some nice work for pretty big clients. I recently did a short freelance stint at an Agency called Space01 whereby I spent a lot of time working on info graphs for a presentation for Lloyds banking group. That was pretty fun work playing on Illustrator with shapes all day. A year or so ago I worked on a Logo project for a Youth Offender program called “aiming skywards” This was my first strictly logo design project, and I enjoyed the research and concept stages that embarked on to get the final outcome. I do a lot of HTML email work for a charity called Mercy Ships. I get to produce a lot of artwork and assets for these guys that’s always enjoyable.
Do you have any favorite people you like to follow on twitter?
I follow the designers I have mentioned above as they provide links to tutorials and general design news. I follow Boag World (web design podcast), but in a general sense I like the follow @WankersFullKit who is a twitter users who simply posts middle aged me wearing full football kits I’m not too sure why but it always makes me laugh. I also like Frankie Boyle for his twisted dark and menacing tweets.
Away from working what ways have you found the best to relax?
Being in front of a computer for most of time means that an activity whereby I’m not in front of a screen is relaxing. Football clears my mine. While I’m playing I find that my head is completely clear of all worry and stress. I also find coffee shops loud hiphop and buying trainers very therapeutic too.
Sneaker junkie? What have been some of your favorite recent purchases?
Indeed, well I hold a special place in my heart for Jordan’s although trying to collect these is an expensive hobby. My last real sexy purchase was the Nike Huarache limited edition, I had to wait online for 5 hours refreshing the page every 5 minutes…. It was worth it!
What would be a typical hiphop soundtrack for a Friday/saturday night?
I’ve been taking a trip to hip hop university lately I’m currently sitting in the 90’s class. I’m just starting to realize that the 90’s were a real golden age for the genre. My favorite music of this time in anything by Gangstarr (Guru and Dj Premier) I love Guru’s monotone flow and the concepts he plays with, and of course Premier’s simplistic yet epic beats. It just felt at that time there was more to rap about than how much money you have. A more modern artiest I’ve been enjoying lately is Kendrick Lemar.