In January, we want you to meet HerbertNordal, a graphic designer who will impress you and inspire. Herbert has been with DesignContest since July 2009. This means that he knows more about design crowdsourcing than one could ever expect. He has won 13 gold, 20 silver, and 16 bronze medals so far. And we are sure he has got many more winning contests ahead.

The question I always ask our designers of the month: how long have you been dealing with design?

I got into the typesetting business in the mid-1970s. My college degree was in Philosophy, the emphasis on aesthetics. That is, talking about or more likely arguing about, art. In the type business you get backed into graphics more or less like programmers and developers often do today.

logo design black white cannabis ideaWhat is the best way to win a contest on DesignContest, based on your own experience?

Clearly, I am not the guy to give advice on how to win. I would say to read the brief twice and do a search on the company to get as much background as possible. The nice thing about crowdsourcing is that you can avoid participation in contests for which you are not suited or behavior that sets off alarm bells. Badly written briefs can signal a doomed contest or indicate that the contest holder is confused.

blue logo design ideas inspirational

Among the skills in your profile, you have mentioned File Preparation. Do you think that nowadays designers don’t pay enough attention to this part of their job?

The typesetting business evolved into a postscript output service. Many talented people are not detail oriented. Furthermore, designers are frequently poor proofreaders. All this came to a head when trying to output film for print. There was always a way to mess things up. Some people would find creative new ways to screw up their files. I spent a good deal of time troubleshooting this sort of thing. If you pull enough teeth, you get familiar with dentistry.

Now, there is plenty of good preflight software that finds and fixes most problems.

Printers still have to go back to designers for missing and low-resolution elements. The required PDFs may still be created with the wrong drivers… and so it goes.

round orange logo design ideas inspiration

Do you remember the most challenging contest you have ever taken part in?

Two types of contests in which I participated were difficult. In the first type, the contest holder asks competing designers to incorporate elements from each others work in a non-blind contest. It only works if the designers can agree to share the prize and cooperate. It is still quite awkward.

The second problem is when the contest holder wants to see “all the designs in the world” and then pick, usually without direction. In this contest, there may be thousands of entries and multiple extensions. They widdle the giant sequoia to get a toothpick. They may reach a conclusion but it is a subversion of the process.

What is your way of dealing with difficult clients? And what is your definition of a difficult client?

Everyone has troublesome clients. My biggest problem clients were those who were very slow paying. You had to expend more energy trying to get paid than doing the job. That problem goes away with crowdsourcing.

Indecisive novice clients are a problem. You could spend so much time hand-holding that the job is not profitable. You just hope that future work will make up for it.

Some people have difficult business practices. They always complain. They are never happy. The work is never good enough. They want to renegotiate the price after the job is done…every single time.

There are many “people” stories. You find that a service business is about human relationships and deal with it as good as you can.

A good client with whom you have a good working relationship is a treasure.

logo desing hunt hunting ideas inspiration

Getting inspired is highly important for designers, as their job demands lots of creativity. Where do you get your inspiration from?

At one time, great creative work was available in publications like Print, How and Communication Arts (the bible) and with art annuals. Now there are vast arrays of great work to see online with sights like Pinterest, Dribble, and blogs from assorted art retailers. Unfortunately, as we have all seen, it is also a great resource for pirates.

I greatly admire early modernist stars of the post-war, minimalist, design age (50s, 60s, 70s). This has rendered much of my work as stale in the postmodernist era.

What would you like to achieve in the future in the design sphere?

I am at a point in my life where I am not looking for future achievements. I just wish to be engaged. Working with graphics has become a simple pleasure and compelling practice. If you are a bit serious about art, can you ever retire? I just may die with a mouse in my hand.

red logo design letters inspiration ideas

What is your attitude toward crowdsourcing? Is it more helpful for clients or designers? In which way?

At first, I was unhappy about crowdsourcing because it crushed the market and made graphics a commodity. Now I see it as a venue for personal and professional development. This is a great place for startups to develop a good “look” and for designers to sharpen their eye. The big benefit I see is that it gives designers in remote locations access to the world market. In some places, currency conversion can mean that a win is a very significant pay.

The unspoken critical skill that designers need to develop is relationship skills with clients. Here is where designers can turn wins into long-term clients for one-on-ones. The speculative nature of crowdsourcing contests means that the occasional win will never be a basis for a business alone. It must lead to a more sustained practice and every bit helps. I see it as “training with benefits”.

red logo design inspiration ideas

You are highly active on DC Forum. Does it help you to meet any professional connections? Do you think that designers should be more active on forums (taking into account that different online groups in social media are much more popular)?

Why do I endorse the Forum? Many experienced designers go to the forum when they have a specific question that Sharie (Sr. Support Manager on DesignContest) can answer. Usually it is just a procedure or practice that they are unfamiliar with. Most who come to DC have been on other crowdsource sites and details of operation can vary widely. It is also a good place to ask technical questions about software and hardware. There are always going to be questions, complaints, and confusion. The forum is where it can get untangled. The forum turns a group of designers into a community. Much can be shared. Most participants are not in an environment where they can share common concerns and express opinions. Some are working in a vacuum. Communication happens in the Forum. Working crowdsource design does not have to mean solitary confinement.
Following Designers Court is also a teaching moment. The difference between “similar to” and “being influenced by” and outright copying is not always obvious. Sharie and Babba make many nuanced decisions. On a more ominous note, their workload seems to be getting heavier and more tedious.
I am an old Luddite. I do as little on social media, as possible. I resent Silicon Valley profiting by data mining humanity and human activity. While personal privacy is an illusion, I am not willing to drop off the grid and go to Idaho to get it back. From their perspective, I am not doing anything interesting.

logo design red inspiration ideas

What is your advice to those who start using DesignContest?

DC is a great place for all of the above reasons. The Forum on DC is a good place to get questions answered. The nature of graphics means that we are all on an endless learning curve, technically, professionally and socially. No one personal can master it all and still have time for a life. Take advantage of this resource and learn. I have made a life for myself by learning from people smarter and more talented than myself.

I am concerned about the future of graphics. It is clear to me that in the future, designers will need extensive programming skills. This may limit access of highly talented people to stable careers. Street graffiti artists are not well paid.

logo design ideas inspiration letters

Worldwide access to commercial art comes at the price of rampant piracy. Intellectual property has no meaning in some areas of the world. This may mean that even great designers can have only modest financial success. The fall of the popular music industry looks like the future of the creative art business. In the end, only the lawyers win.

If you feel that art is a real calling, then, by all means, proceed.

You need to see the world as it is, not as you want it to be. This is a difficult, post-honeymoon, real-life concept and hard for new graduates to fully grasp. Just keep your eyes wide open.

At the end, a few more questions that will help us to find out more about you:

– What is your favorite music album? Do you listen to music while designing?

I have fairly eclectic taste in music. I like everything from drone to classical. My very favorite is Classical Guitar, Christopher Parkening.

– What book have you read multiple times?

I do not have a book that I read for refreshment. I do go the library and page through the coffee table sized art books. I am always left with a sense of despair, wonder, and exhilaration.

– What is your fav color? Do you use it more than others while designing?

Colors are like flavors.You need to taste many. My favorite is the one I am currently eating.

My experience

My experience was mostly gleaned while operating a typesetting/pre-press/design business in the suburbs of Chicago for decades. In that capacity I had the chance to rub shoulders with all kinds of interesting people in many aspects of the design business, high and low. The people aspect was the best part. The hardest lessons were in the “business” part of it. It may start out with style, taste, creativity, truth, and beauty, but in the end, it is all about money.

DesignContest Team is deeply thankful to Herbert Nordal for being such an active and important member of DesignContest community.