Starting with little more than a desire to get know, and get paid, boxmeup was founded as a freelance design company in New Jersey by two graphic designers. Now re-branded as wedothenasty, and boasting a client list that includes Warner Music, Ciroc Vodka, XXL Magazine, and adidas, Jimmie Solomon and company are among the most exciting graphic designers working today. Format sits down with wedothenasty co-founder and graphic designer Jimmie Solomon to talk about design, inspiration, and visual marketing.
â€œOn most projects I am at liberty to do what I want ….Just because [clients] ask you to do something a certain way, doesnâ€™t mean thatâ€™s the only way you can present it.â€
Format: So how did you get into graphic design? Was your background in art?
Jimmie Solomon: I got into graphic design around 8th Grade. I remember being on AOL in the chat rooms trying to get a pirated copy of Photoshop. I remember I learned everything on what was then
Macromedia Fireworks, then I finally got my hands on a copy of PS. Life hasnâ€™t been the same since.
Format: With work like advertising design, so much of the communication is non-verbal. How do you effectively send the client’s message across to the consumer?
Jimmie Solomon: The clientâ€™s message is always the priority when working in advertising. Especially with the bigger budgets, they nitpick with the biggest magnifying glass, but we usually just take what they want — which is usually pretty corny — and make it cool.
Format: Is it easier to work with companies with an iconic logo like Nike, or more difficult? The use of the Swoosh helps the brand communication so much, but is there that concern that the logo overpowers the design?
Jimmie Solomon: It’s usually more difficult to work with established identities because you already have limits. The flip side of the coin is the project usually develops faster and is more successful because the foundation is already set. Logos never really over power the design – except for in my experiences with working with Bad Boy. One of the first things I was told when I started working for Atlantic was â€œAlways make the Bad Boy logo big.â€
Format: A lot of designers find it difficult to find a good balance between good ad design and what marketing needs in terms of branding and visibility â€“ how do you find that kind of balance?
Jimmie Solomon: Great marketing ideas rule everything. If the idea is good, who cares about the rest of that junk (branding/visibility). People will get the message and know from whom the message is coming.
Format: I really enjoyed your work on the Diddy web site, was the minimal-classic look the client’s idea or yours?
Jimmie Solomon: Haha, thanks. The look for the Diddy site came straight from the horseâ€™s mouth. He’s just like “It has to look like Diddy. Clean. Sharp.” So… that was that.
Format: Could you talk about your creative process? What does your working day look like, and just how does a project go from a conceptual idea to a finished product?
Jimmie Solomon: Usually it all begins with gathering inspiration. I look at all of my favorite design blogs, some magazines, even music and movies that are out. I just take everything I like from that bunch and then its like… what can I do with all of this greatness? Then when time allows, I like to start
off with a tonof sketches. Then we narrow them down to two or three good ideas. From there I do mockups, almost like full versions of the project, which I then give to the client to go to town.
Format: Do you feel that your work might have looked radically different if you had been given more creative freedom?
Jimmie Solomon: Honestly no, because on most projects I am at liberty to do what I want â€“ at least initially. I feel itâ€™s the same for everyone. Just because they ask you to do something a certain way, doesnâ€™t mean thatâ€™s the only way you can present it. Maybe you have one the way they like and one the way you like. Againâ€¦great ideas are undeniable.
Format: Some designers find it difficult to find a balance between the client’s needs and their own belief in what’s best â€“ do you find it difficult to put that nagging feeling away, or have your clients been
creatively accommodating so far?
Jimmie Solomon: Oh nagging clients are the worst! They always make me not want to do the projects at all. There have definitely been times where I’m like â€˜OK fine. Just tell me what you want exactly and I’ll do that exactly the way you ask.â€™ Ironically enough, those pieces rarely make it to my portfolio.
Format: If you were given the opportunity to move out of freelance and into a permanent salaried position, would you think of that as a step up, or a step down? Would you value the opportunity for more stable work at the cost of creative and career freedom?
Jimmie Solomon: Well right now I do both. I work full-time for Warner Music Group then after work I moonlight as an employee for my We Do The Nasty title. Itâ€™s a tough call between full-time and freelance. I can’t call it.
Format: Could you give us any design horror stories? Like designs that you thought were absolutely perfect but you ended up never using or the client ended up not liking?
Jimmie Solomon: At my 1st full-time job out of college, I worked at Miskeen Originals. I always thought I had a shitload of great ideas that they didnâ€™t end up liking. That job was kind of a horror story
because my â€˜design directorâ€™ was someone who couldnâ€™t design a damn thing so that was frustrating.
Format: Everybody gets stalled when they’re working. How do you sustain creativity over the course of a project? How do you keep your mind fresh so you can keep polishing your project?
Jimmie Solomon: Just keep getting inspired. There are a ton of people online and around the world doing cool shit everyday. I always see great ideas and am like â€˜Shit, I gotta have an idea that good too.â€™ So then I go and make one!
More info: www.wedothenasty.com
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