How or where do you find inspiration?
I try and try, but more often than not, inspiration comes when I’m away from the computer. I love the design aesthetics found in old American cars, signage and print ads. The last thing I was inspired by was a rusty old 1948 Ford 8n tractor. I suppose it’s really just all about keeping your eyes open.
Who is the biggest influence on your work right now?
My friends. Getting feedback and honest critique from people who know they can level with you is key. Aside from Dave and Reagan, my Paravel cohorts, I’ve burdened Yaron Schoen, Phil Coffman, Matthew Smith and Josh Brewer with “what do you think of this?” emails and instant messages a lot lately.
Where are your “design roots”? Print or Web?
Web for sure. Print scares me because it’s so final. You sure as hell can’t FTP in and edit printed materials.
How important is it to know the history of design?
If I’ve improved over the years, I’d say that a large part of that has been through studying all the good work that’s come before. If I’m going to use a typeface, I try and learn all about it- when it was made and by whom, etc. I’m not sure it’ll necessarily make you a better designer, but I’m certain it’ll help you to make better decisions and make your process more enjoyable.
Serif or Sans?
Today, Serif… FF Meta Serif that is. I recently used it in the redesign of my blog and love it.
Do you code and design? Are you a “Hybrid”?
Yes I do. If I’m good at anything, it’s being a generalist. I love CSS and typography equally.
What’s your favorite part of the creative process?
Graph paper. Well, I suppose that would be the ‘planning’ part. Just about anything I’ve done that has amounted to anything started out on graph paper.
What makes your creative process different from everybody else?
I don’t know if I’m different from anyone else really. I’m constantly gathering new angles, directions, fonts, and color combinations- desperate to get excited about anything I can. My process is a sloppy mess, and it always changes.
What do you see as the single biggest shift in the evolution of design over the past 5 years?
CSS. It seems like every year our entire profession changes based on what we can achieve in designing for the web through CSS. Properties like @font-face, border-radius, opacity and rgba color have fundamentally changed the way I design and build for the web.
What’s the difference between User Experience and User Interface design?
Perhaps that UX defines or informs UI design
What makes one a web design professional?
Profit and the desire to experiment and build outside of billable hours. Maybe those 2 things fight each other, but I don’t really think it’s possible to have the first without the second.
What are designers/developers doing right (or wrong) in the web 2.0 world?
The web is a medium, not a solution in itself. Throwing up a site and setting up social media accounts won’t do anyone any good without good content, design, code and online participation. If there are any shortcuts, I’ve yet to find them.
What’s your favorite flavor of design or development programs/languages?
I like pushing pixels, kerning type and agonizing over whether my line height should be 23 or 24px. I’ve also got a thing for CSS and really enjoy trying to recreate graphic design through clever stylesheet coding.
What is your favorite book?
For work, Handcrafted CSS by Dan Cederholm got me experimenting with CSS3, which has been a quality of life & work upgrade. For fun, I’m still really partial to The Chronicles of Narnia.
What is your favorite movie?
The Dude Abides.
Who is your favorite musical artist (or What musical artist are you listening to the most right now?)
I love anything that is (or sounds like it was) recorded before computers. It’s always digital this and digital that. Static and imperfections in songs calm me down and remind me to relax and let design be what it should be- Fun.
Trent Walton is founder and 1/3 of Paravel Inc., a custom web design and development shop based out of the Texas Hill Country. When he’s not working on client projects, he’s probably writing & designing articles for his blog, co-managing DesignSwap, or contributing ideas for the next edition of TheManyFacesOf.com.