Ryan Putnam Interview

Hi, I’m Ryan Putnam (Rype) a designer, illustrator, and blogger . After studying graphic design in college, I worked for a couple design firms as a designer. Eventually, continuing freelance projects and stock illustrations made it possible for me to go full-time freelance, enabling me to explore projects like Vectips.

Where do you look for sources of inspiration?

I look at most of the popular design and illustration galleries. I also subscribe to a number of printed magazines like Print, Communication Arts, and Computer Arts. With all these design resources, I still try to look for outside sources of inspiration from architecture, fine art, and nature. It seem the best type of inspiration comes when you are least excepting it. I also find that asking people not involved in the industry what inspires them, can generate some great finds.


What is your favourite aspect of __? (Graphic design, logo design, illustration, blogging)

I love creating something and sharing it. I have been in involved in fine art and crafts throughout my whole life. The best part of creating artwork and projects digitally, is the immediate results, and with the internet, it is easy to share it with others. I also love it when someone appreciates a project the same way I do.

What are your top 5 favourite websites?

  • ffffound – I love the variety of inspirational images on ffffound.
  • FreelanceSwitch – This site helped in giving me the confidence to pursue a full-time freelance career.
  • CSS Tricks – Great screencast and articles related to CSS.
  • Smashing Magazine – Great articles, freebies, and roundups.
  • Google Reader – Not sure if this can be considered in the list, but I spend a lot of time reading through my RSS feeds.

Who do you look up to in your field?

I look up to Collis Ta’eed. I’m sure everyone knows, but he is part of the team responsible for Envato, bringing us Psdtuts+, Vectortuts+, the rest of the Tuts+ sites, Freelance Switch, and many more. I look up to how he makes a living creating well designed content rich websites.

I also really look up to all the designer and illustrators that are constantly pushing themselves to become better. I can’t say that I always have that determination, it is very inspirational.


A few weeks ago on Inspiredology, we covered a post about cartoons. We focused on cartoons and characters being used on the web. Vectips has a great illustration of a character at the top; Where did this stem from? And do you think it has been a successful aspect of your blog.

The Vectips character was originally created for my stock illustration portfolio. When I first started Vectips, I used the illustration to promote my stock portfolio. When I saw that people were actually reading Vectips, I realized having the illustration for sale on iStock could be hurting the Vectips brand. I started seeing the character illustration on other websites, so I changed the illustration to more of a self portrait and eventually took down the illustration from iStock.  It was a little lesson in branding for me!


How do you come up with tutorials for Vectips?

What is your process of creating a tutorials from start to finish?

Sometimes coming up with tutorials in hard. I try to create tutorials that are relevant to current trends in the industry. I also try to create tutorials with simple techniques that can be applied to many other projects.

To start a tutorial, I usually do a little research on the the subject the tutorial is about. Next, I create the final image keeping in mind the steps to create the tutorial. Then I write out the tutorial while creating the final image again, taking screenshot as I go along. Then it is off to posting the tutorial or sending it off to another editor to be published.


What sort of social media tools do you use and find the most successful?

Twitter has been a great tool for me. It keeps me connected with readers and other designers. I use Twitter as another vehicle to share useful vector articles, tutorials, and freebies that I find that might not constitute a full blog post on Vectips.

Stumble Upon has also been great in generating traffic, but it doesn’t seem to generate the same type of community that Twitter does.


What piece of work are you most proud of and why?

That’s a hard one. I guess I would say Vectips is the piece I am most proud of . For me, I like to do things quick and move onto the next thing. With Vectips, I constantly have to update and maintain it. So for me, I am proud that I am sticking with it. Moreover, I am happy that readers find the information useful! There is really nothing better than being thanked for helping out.


What would be your perfect dream project?

I don’t really have a dream project. I like working for myself and not under the guidelines and limitations of client projects. Even though this is not reality, I would love to just to come up with interesting brands, websites, and illustrations for fun!


What advice would you give to someone starting out in the design industry?

I would advice someone starting out in the industry to always stick with it. Be passionate about design, but also realize you are going to need a thick skin. Someone is always going to be better, someone is always going to hate your work, and you will always have to deal with problematic clients and projects.

I would also suggest to always be thinking of the future. Think about what signing a contract, no-disclosure, or anything else will do to your future. I’m not saying this to scare you and I’m not saying don’t ever get into a contract (contracts are actually a good thing), I am saying just be careful you are not selling yourself short. It can be hard starting out, but don’t agree to something that you might be kicking yourself about down the road.


Looking into a crystal ball, what do you think will be the next design trend?

I think that the shiny Web 2.0 style will start to phase out. In turn, I think softer satin and conservative style graphics will become more popular. This trend will be strengthened by the current world economy. I think companies will not want to look as flashy and boisterous as they might look. Grungy and hand-drawn styles will also make a bigger splash as backlash to the Web 2.0 style. I really think the most successful designers are going to be very versatile when dealing with trends. They will have to rely more on basic design principles rather than sticking to a trend. Something I am still learning!


What can we expect from Vectips in the upcoming year?

I’m starting to dabble in video, so look for something in that realm soon (hopefully). I also want to engage the Vectips readers more. I know there are a lot of people out there smarter than me when it comes to vector art and Illustrator, so I would like to tap into their knowledge and share it with other readers. Maybe some more interviews, forums, or workshops?