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An Interview with Designer & Blogger Jon Phillips

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Jon Phillips is a freelance web designer and is a well known figure in the online community as the guy behind top design related sites Spyre Studios, Freelance Folder and Design Newz. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jon on a couple of his personal and client related projects in the past, so I invited him to chat about his background, share some of his experiences of running multiple blogs and give some insights into his upcoming projects.

Hi Jon, let’s start with an introduction. What is your background and what do you do?

Hey everyone! Thanks a lot Chris for having me. I’m Jon, I’m a self-taught web-designer and blogger from Quebec, Canada. I’ve been designing on a freelance basis for a couple years now and I also run a design blog at SpyreStudios and a design news site called Design-Newz. I’m also a musician and have been playing for about 16 years.

Can you give us an insight into a typical day in the life of Jon Phillips?

Sure thing! Every day is different from the last but a typical day usually starts with making coffee, checking emails, traffic, stats and comments on my blog and then I’ll spend some time on Twitter and check my RSS reader and check my to-do list. Then, if I can get all the administrative stuff (invoicing, accounting and other boring tasks) done before noon, I’ll start working on more creative things, designs for clients, personal projects and blogging.

Then I’ll check my emails, stats and Twitter again, write a couple things on my to-do list, and call it a day.

Of course it happens I’ll work really long hours or even pull an all-nighter, but I’m trying this work/life balance thing that people keep talking and writing about. :)

You have a wide selection of design blog projects under your belt (Spyre Studios, Freelance Folder, Design-Newz), how did the decisions to establish these sites come about?

Well, as far as SpyreStudios is concerned it took me about 2 years before I actually decided I needed to do something with this site. And it probably went through 8 or 9 redesigns. At first it was a simple portfolio site, but then I decided to turn it into a design blog and invite contributors – which proved to be a great move.

Before I started to dedicate time on SpyreStudios I launched FreelanceFolder (2007), because I wanted to share my thoughts and views on being a freelance designer and I eventually turned it into a multi-author blog. Then SpyreStudios became my primary focus.

Last year I launched Design-Newz, a site featuring hand-selected articles for designers. I started this site because I wanted to give back to the online design community and also because I thought it’d would be great to share all the awesome articles I read on a daily basis.

There are plenty of ‘Rockstars’ in our industry, but you’re one of the select few genuine rockstars being the Guitarist from The Gods of Now. Do you find music and design are two separate lives or do they intermingle?

What a great question! Well, I try not to mix design and music. In fact, I didn’t design my band’s website or logo. All I did was to show up at the photo-shoots haha It’s like working on a project for a friend or relative, I try to avoid this as much as possible. When I’m working on a design for a client I put myself in a certain frame of mind, a certain mood. And it’s a completely different vibe when I play music.

When I’m at work I’m a designer, when I’m on stage I’m a guitarist – and I just can’t see myself designing with a bottle of Jack on my desk. :)

You currently have an exciting project with Mason Hipp named MediaLoot in the pipeline . Can you give us any sneak preview of what’s in store?

Of course! MediaLoot will be a premium membership site offering design resources for designers. We’re currently working with a handful of great designers on creating those resources while we work on building the site. We’ll have textures, brushes, vectors, icons, templates and a lot of more – all for a very low monthly price.

Basically the idea behind this site if to offer a killer ‘design toolbox‘. Me and Mason got pretty sick of going through hundreds of pages on certain online marketplaces and stock graphics websites, so we’re building MediaLoot.

You often hire people to offer a helping hand as guest authors or designers for your blogs and projects. How do you ensure you gain good results from outsourcing?

Usually when I outsource a design-related task, whether graphic design or programming, it’s either because I don’t have time, or because I know someone else can do it better than I could. Once you realize other people can bring a fresh perspective to a project, that’s when it all starts to make sense.

When it comes to blogging, I see it more as a collaborative effort rather than outsourcing per se. I’m pretty close to the bloggers I hire to write and work on my blog(s) so they know what I like, what works for me and what doesn’t.

Finally, please list out any social networks where users can find you and connect.

Twitter – Twitter.com/jophillips
Delicious – Delicious.com/jon.phillips
Flickr – Flickr.com/people/phillipsjon/
StumbleUpon – Stumbleupon.com/stumbler/jphillpis/
Facebook – Facebook.com/jo.phillips

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Written by Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques collating creative website designs. Check out Chris' design tutorials and articles at Blog.SpoonGraphics or follow his daily findings on Twitter.

  • http://spyrestudios.com Jon Phillips

    Hey Chris, thanks a lot for posting the interview. Was a lot of fun to do :)

    • http://twitter.com/chrisspooner Chris Spooner

      It was my pleasure Jon! Thanks again for taking the time to participate.

  • http://twitter.com/idilciise Idil

    Thanks for posting, always nice to read about other designers/developers. :)

  • http://blog.echoenduring.com Matt Ward

    Awesome interview. I am one of those “contributors” to SpyreStudios, and I have to say that it’s always a pleasure working with Jon. He’s an incredibly positive person and very encouraging!

    Also looking forward to the launch of MediaLoot! It should rock! :)

    • http://twitter.com/chrisspooner Chris Spooner

      Great articles they were too, Matt. I’m also looking forward to seeing the launch of MediaLoot, it looks like it’s going to be a super handy resource.

  • http://www.amberweinberg.com Amber Weinberg

    Great interview, unfortunately I joined the FreelanceFolder writing staff after Jon left, but I hear great things about him :)

  • http://www.pixellily.com Ashley Doughty

    I agree with Idil, it is very helpful to learn more about other people that do what we do!!

  • http://spyrestudios.com Jon Phillips

    @Idil: Thanks, glad you liked the interview!

    @Matt: Hey it’s always a pleasure working with you too buddy :)

    @Amber: I read your articles on FreelanceFolder, great job! Nice to know you heard great things about me. I have a feeling Mason is behind this haha

    @Ashley: Thanks for your comment, I’m happy you enjoyed the interview.

  • http://timothybsmith.com Tim Smith

    What an awesome guy! I’ve been following Jon’s projects and I’m really looking forward to his next one: Media Loot.

    He seems like such a cool guy. I need to find an excuse to work with him. haha :)

  • http://www.pameladowie.co.uk pamela dowie

    great interview, thanks for publishing it

  • http://www.workbysimon.com Simon Carr

    Good interview – I think it is pretty common for musicians and designers to overlap. In nashville, it is rare to find a singer/songwriter that can’t also use photoshop… Also, I think music is a great inspiration for creatives…

    @Jon – Really like your work, and the content you provide for readers.

  • http://andysowards.com Andy Sowards

    Jon You are the man! Thanks for being an inspiration to us all ;)

    Nice interview!

    Great work as always Chris!

  • http://spyrestudios.com Jon Phillips

    @Tim: Thanks for the comment! Hey no need to find excuses, just drop me an email anytime :)

    @Pamela: Thank you!

    @Simon: You’re right! When I design/code, iTunes is always on :) Thanks for your comment!

    @Andy: Hey man, thank you! You know there’s no way I would be where I am right now without buddies like you! :)

  • Jeremy

    Guys, I love you! :)))

  • http://www.myformatfactory.com/ Jeremy

    More than… Well its too hard to say it…

  • http://www.freelancereview.net Chris McConnell

    Hey Chris, nice interview. We love having both you and Jon as panelists on the Round Table Review on Freelance Review. Keep up the great work.

  • http://www.dynamicwp.net Eko Setiawan

    Great…I learned a lot from this interview, especially why john make a web? For what reason?
    Thanks :)

  • http://www.fpolitics.com/ Politics

    Very lovely topic choose for you nice article.