Inside Simplifyd is a short series where we give you, our reader the chance to get to know the people behind the screens. Discovering everything from their childhood aspiration, to their current inspiration, finding out what drives them, getting to the core of each individuals ethos – so you can see just what makes them so great!
Today, we’re talking to James Willard, Co-Founder of Simplifyd and front-end guru. We chatted with James about the challenges he faces daily designing for Simplifyd, where he finds his inspiration and his background.
Hi James! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. We’ve got 4 quick fire questions to get started:
Where were you born?
Treliske hospital truro – Cornwall
In ten seconds tell us about your past ventures?
Working for marketing agencies, cutting my teeth as a print designer, hustling as a freelancer and learning as much about web as possible. Then setting up my own company, Jyst Design and later co-founding Jyst Creative/ Jyst Digital as well as my role here at Simplifyd.
What did you want to be growing up?
I always got a kick out of creating stuff. An architect maybe? But mostly something in design I got really into graphic design during college.
Your favourite work based app and why?
Moleskine pad and pen because ideas are the most valuable stuff, the rest is less important.
Second to that i’m really nerdy about Pinterest. It’s a great source of inspiration.
I hear you’re particularly fond of fonts and typography, can you tell us more?
Typography is civilisation. Yeah I know that sounds crazy but think about it.. It’s the visual component of the written word, without the written word how would we communicate language, concepts, history or ideas?
It plays such a big role in our day to day lives without any of us really knowing about it! It’s the cornerstone of graphic design, the reason behind the printing press and steeped in history. Imagine a world without it? What use is a road sign if you can’t read it? Yeah typography for me has become a pretty unhealthy obsession. It’s great that there is now web fonts and so many great tools to improve typography on the web (TypeKit, Typecast etc..)
How did you get your start in business?
I got my first break through a friend who knew someone who owned a design studio locally… They got me into a work placement and the rest rolled from there. I guess its true that in business it’s all about connections.
Where outside of the design sphere, do you find inspiration for your work?
Inspiration is everywhere, music, the environment, nature, experiences, culture, museums/exhibitions, the newspaper, the drinks bottle I pick up at the corner shop … Inspiration also comes from empathy, knowledge and understanding which are key elements that should be at play with any design work. Outside of design is a tricky one because to me design is everywhere, its not just something I see in a website or magazine.
What does your design process look like?
Research research research – becoming an expert and gaining an insight on the subject I’m working on is the best way of uncovering a creative idea and solution.
Looking at things from a different perspective – putting myself in the shoes of the client, their customers or the end-users.
Digestion – getting my initial thoughts and ideas down on paper and then leaving them for a few days, let them settle and digest. I often get sparks of inspiration once I step away from my work and revisit. A fresh look is important.
I then work things up further, get feedback and refine the smaller details.
And finally a question we must ask everyone, what was your favourite childhood band?
In order of appearance:
1) ZZtop – Afterburner, 2) Prodigy – Experience, 3) Busted – Year 3000
If you enjoyed this instalment of our Inside Simplifyd series and want to see more posts like this, or you have more questions for James then tweet us @GetSimplifyd or leave us a comment below. We love hearing from you.