Mike Spencer

Houstin, TX |

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What made you want to become a graphic designer?

“I never really thought about doing graphic design until I came to college. I have always liked making things and wanted to study something that allowed me to create.”

What are your favorite aspects of being a designer?

“I like being able to come up with new ideas for stuff. It’s not like doing calculations-- you actually have to think about things abstractly. I don’t like how we sometimes come off as those hipster art people, who go to wine-tastings and art shows all the time; there’s a lot more to it than that, I think. It’s not all-consuming-- you don’t have to think about it 24/7.”

Do you think school has helped prepare you for entering the real world?

“It can’t teach you everything, but the workload is a good idea for getting out and learning everything on your own. Not like dealing with clients, though-- internships help with that a lot more. It’s a good window into it: you at least get to see what’s going on, even if you don’t get to do it. I think the whole program has helped, from going to Portland and reading the books-- we learn some good stuff.”

How would you describe your process when working on a project?

“I did a lot more research when it came to my thesis, which is good. I like doing a lot of thumbnails: starting off on paper, and then moving onto the computer. Thesis definitely made me think about time management a lot more, for sure. I’d say I’m a pretty big procrastinator.”

Would you say that you have a personal design "style" in your work?

“Most of my stuff has kind of looked more clean and modern, but I’ve been trying to branch out and learn other styles. I don’t want to have just one style when I show people my portfolio; it’s fun to try different things.”

For designers, do you believe it's more important to work on projects you're passionate about or take whatever work is available?

“That’s how is it with every job: you've got to make money and pay the bills. You’re going to eventually get stuff that you like to do, but when you’re starting out you have to work your way up. You should go for what you enjoy: you’ll have more fun doing it, and you’ll get better work out of it if you enjoy what you’re doing. Everyone wants to do what they want over something else; it’s not like I'm going to go out and code some boring website because I know it’ll give me a little money, but I haven’t had to deal with that yet.”

The graphic design industry is doing more digitally-based work these days: are you excited about the evolution of design, or do you like more traditional mediums?

“You definitely have to have a little background in it, just because there’s so much work being done today. I think if you know at least the basics, you’ll be OK. You don’t always need to know the technical aspects of it, but you should have design sense that can transfer over to the design. I’m not going to be able to just go out and design a cool-looking phone application out of the blue-- I’ll have to learn about it. If you’re a good designer, you’ll be able to pick up on things that work in different areas.”

Do you have any favorite designers, artists, or resources you like to get inspiration from?

Stumbleupon is always pretty cool because it brings you so many things.”

What are your plans for the future?

“I don't want to work in a grocery store much longer. Graphic design is a lot of work, but I enjoy doing it.”

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