Inspired By Everyday Life
by Elizabeth Lavis|
24 Jul 2023
For Joke De Winter, a self-described 'tinkerer of fonts, colors, and shapes,' the twin keys to design success are always practicing your craft and drawing fresh creative ideas from daily life. "It's cliche, but my best advice is to practice, practice, practice," she says. "Always keep looking around you and be inspired by everyday life. Whether it's a big billboard campaign in the city or a packet on the back of a cupboard, design is everywhere, and the more you expose yourself to it, the more you will learn."
Belgium-born and U.K.-based De Winter makes a point to follow her own advice and seek constant insight from her surroundings. "I have always been curious and open to see art, design, architecture, and history as points of inspiration," she says.
Although De Winter's passion and calling is developing innovative and powerful designs, she didn't start that way. "I wanted to be many things when I was little," she says. "Being an F16 pilot was one of the more daring ones, but not a designer. I did always want to study art and was never allowed to do so because it wasn't a 'proper job.' I wanted until I was grown up to study art in my own time, and gradually being a designer became something I wanted to be. I am there now and currently narrowing my specialty down to type design."
De Winter honed her skill mainly through self-education. "I did a couple of adult evening courses at Central St. Martins in London, a bunch of online classes with Skillshare and Domestika, and an intensive graphic design course with Shillington in New York," she says. Her education isn't finished either, as De Winter is starting a year-long online type design course with Type West next year.
De Winter seeks full clarification from her clients before beginning a design. "I start by asking a lot of questions to know what a client wants and needs," she says. "I need to know what their values are, who their customers are, and what the project's purpose is." Once she has this foundational knowledge, Dde Winter starts brainstorming concepts to bring the design to fruition. "I usually create several ideas but often show the client only one," she says. "I find narrowing down my own work to the best idea allows me to explain my thoughts better to the client."
The reason De Winter operates this way is mainly tactical and in the interest of not overwhelming her clients. "Clients are not bombarded with several ideas but are able to focus on a single thing," she says. "From their feedback, I will then refine, or completely redo, the design until it is finished."
Ultimately, for De Winter, good design comes down to one thing; whether it answers the brief. She also prefers a sparse set of tools, relying on pen and paper as critical vehicles for getting her ideas out there. She develops rapport, and trust, with clients by being forthcoming. "I have always been a single-woman band," she says. "I am upfront about that to new clients." De Winter also sets boundaries, such as not answering emails on weekends, to make sure everyone is on the same page about how the workflow will commence and to avoid burnout.
Another trick she uses to ward off overwhelm is working on several projects simultaneously. "It adds variety to your day-to-day work," she says. "It creates refreshing breaks within a project that allows for something to sit for a few days before you get back to it and look at it with fresh eyes."
De Winter likes to spend time in the garden when she's not juggling projects. "Gardening gives me an excellent counter activity," she says. "Besides growing things, it's also a great time to think through and develop new ideas or solutions."
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