1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?
My father was an engineer and I was always impressed with his ability and accomplishments. Growing up though, it seemed my abilities were stronger on the creative side. This led me to pursue fine art, not knowing such a thing as a career in design existed.
I believe art helps people think, ask questions, and connect emotionally. But for me at least, it lacked a more practical function or problem-solving aspect. I was introduced to design while in art school and was fascinated to find that good design seemed to be a perfect balance of form and function, beauty and problem solving, delight and communication.
My art had already been heavily influenced by letterforms, so to dive into typography was a natural progression. After some time in the field, I began to consider what my focus should be if any. Through encouragement from a friend and as I considered what I excelled in, I began to focus more directly on identity design, which my studio specializes in today.
2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?
To put it simply, I just got started. It seemed like many of the designers I admired ran their own studio, and since I did not come down the design school path with a view to working at an agency, I just started taking clients and learned as I went.
Sure, there were many bumps that could have been avoided by observing an agency environment, but there were also many things I learned more quickly and deeply. I’d say every day is a little bit of a hurdle, but if you run track your also training every day and looking ahead to jumping them.
3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?
Once I made a list of all of my past and current clients in order to trace back where they came from. In doing this I realized if I looked back far enough, a large number of clients could be traced back to a few people who were either client’s or had always been supporters of my business.
Their referrals resulted in multiple clients and sometimes years of continued work. This led me to rethink how to best take care of my clients in order to provide an excellent experience that could be talked about. Think about it, if you have a great experience, the first thing you want to do is tell someone!
4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?
In short, be honest, be helpful, be on time, do great work, and say thank you. As a way of saying thanks, I regularly design and mail clients special printed materials, which is also a good way to keep my work in front of them.
5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?
Since we love designing, many creatives overlook the business side of design which is equally important. You can prevent misunderstandings or repeated problems by having a clear and detailed contract. Your contract should list the payment total, payment amounts (if broken up), pay dates, and what will happen if payments are late or there is a pause in the project. Both you and your clients will benefit from this.
It also helps to tie payments to dates, not deliverables. For example, if a project requires 3 payments, the second payment is not tied to a presentation. It should be set to a date that might even be before a presentation, and the final payment also should be set to a date, not the delivery of files. The reason for this is if the client begins to delay finishing the project, yet you’ve been putting in the work, your payments are not tied to a presentation date that keeps getting pushed further out. Or as an incentive, the client knows if they want to start using the work it requires the payment in full by our set date. Now it’s on you to keep on schedule and not get behind.
6. What does your typical work day look like?
Each day is a bit different from the next. I normally organize tasks for the day the night before using the Teux Deux app. It might be an early meeting, getting into a project, or responding to emails and phone calls as the first task on different days. I tend to mix up different kinds of tasks and projects throughout the day to keep things fresh, and as much as I can, get out of the office for inspiration or to learn something new.
7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?
On the technical side, invest time into learning the basics of typography. Knowing when to hang punctuation, using true apostrophes instead of prime marks, and paying attention to things like tracking, kerning, and leading, are a few of the simple things that cause one designer’s work to seem more polished than another. In the end, and more importantly, these details also help the reader to have a more natural and enjoyable experience. To start with the basics, I’d suggest picking up a wonderful reference book titled Type Matters.
On the human side, remember to look up from your computer every now and then. Look for inspiration everywhere—in people, conversations, flowers, art, books, old things, and new things. If all of our interests and inspiration come from a screen, our work will end up looking like it. The broader our intake, the more broad out output as designers can be.
For over 18 years, Ben Loiz has been working with clients to reach their business goals through design. His work has been exhibited internationally and published by PRINT, LogoLounge, +81 Magazine, and Taschen Books among others, as well as online by AIGA, Design Sponge, On the Grid, and Behance.