Greg Beldam Interview

So yesterday I had the oppotunity to interview Best Canadian Designer nominee John Thai at this years FITC, today, Greg Beldam. You might not now this young kid quite yet, but you will. He is nominated for Most Promising Canadian Student Designer in this years FITC. I wish Greg, all the luck in striving to becoming a great designer.

Welcome to Inspiredology! Please introduce yourself? Where are you from? Give us a brief bio? And how you got started in the field?

Thanks for having me. I’m a 21 year old male from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, soon to be graduate from the graphic design program at Algonquin College. I forayed into design in my early years of high school, doing web design for various friends and interests of my own. Once my work started to get noticed I started to do client work, nothing major, but something to develop my skills with. This eventually got to the point where I was making decent money.

I decided I wanted to take something related to web design in school, and since I was more interested in the visual, creative aspect of the trade I went for graphic design. Entering the program in my first year I wasn’t aware of half the things I was about to be hit with. My knowledge of typography was limited at best, I wasn’t aware that packaging was a career choice and I had no clue who Herb Lubalin was.

As my three years in college started to lay out in front of me, I began getting more and more interest in my services, and my exposure and client-base expanded. I am quite happy that I can say I turned something that I did for pure enjoyment into a career, and am still enjoying every aspect of it.

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Congratulations on the nomination for Most Promising Canadian Student Portfolio at FITC! How does it feel to be nominated for something like that?

Thank you! I was pretty excited when I got the email from FITC that I had been nominated. The fact that I am considered with the other two contestants as one of the best student’s in Canada is enough to make my past three years of strenuous late nights and stressful deadlines worth it.

With so many great pieces in your portfolio. What inspires you? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I’m one of those designers who can’t turn off their brain, even if I’m lying on the ground trying to think of anything but design, it’s all I can concentrate on. I can’t watch a movie without critiquing composition and lighting, I can’t walk outside without framing a photograph, and I can’t read a magazine or poster without considering the typography and layout. So you could say I am inspired by just about anything. You could probably also say I’m a little obsessed, I like to call it passion though.

I generally pull a lot of my ideas and creativity from architecture. I regularly buy Architectural Digest and flip through the pages when I need inspiration. If I’m anywhere near a downtown area you can bet I’m spending my time looking at the buildings and forms around me. Which is one reason I fell in love with Manhattan.

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Could you tell us about your career? Favorite project you worked on? Any current or future projects you’d like to share with us?

I was recently hired as a full-time graphic designer for an advertising agency in Ottawa called McMillan. My role mostly consists of interactive design, but I also get a shot at print and integrated work as well. It’s a challenging, fun, creative environment, where I get to work on a wide-range of projects from a wide-range of industry clients.

My favorite project I’ve ever worked on is a tough one, I’ve had good experiences working with a lot of clients. If I had to chose one it would probably be Centrigy because I was given complete creative freedom to take the brand anywhere I wanted, and it’s one of my most successful and well known projects.

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What is the best advice you can give to other young designers?

Keep your eyes open. Read design blogs (like inspiredology) and buy magazines and books. Don’t limit yourself to buying Applied Arts and HOW every time they come out (although they are great to buy/read), pick up architecture magazines, read a business magazine, read a technology column. I will generally buy an AA or HOW when they come out, but every month or so I like to try a magazine from an industry that I haven’t read before, and rotate between them. As designers it’s our job to constantly be on top of the newest software, trends and news.

Tying into that, do your research. Before I start sketching, before I start on the computer, I make sure I know as much about the project/client as I possibly can. If you spend this time upfront doing your reading and investigating you will end up with much better and well thought out projects. Too many young designers jump directly into Photoshop and start working on final designs. If you don’t think upfront it shows in your work.

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Thank you for your time! Any last words?

A computer is only a tool. It’s no different then a pen or a paintbrush. If you rely on a computer to do everything for you, you will never reach your full potential. Before I even look at Photoshop, or any software, I pull out a sketchbook and start drawing ideas. Even if your doing a website, an interactive experience, or anything that will end up on screen, you have to sketch out your ideas first.

That and pay attention to typography! It’s a dying art and as designers, it’s our most powerful tool.

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