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Interview with Ryan Paonessa

Home > Designer Interviews > Ryan Paonessa

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ryan Paonessa (RP) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Ryan Paonessa by clicking here.

Interview with Ryan Paonessa at Monday 27th of April 2020

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
RP: I've been practicing art since a very early age. Growing up in New York in the 1990s I was heavily influenced by skateboarding and graffiti culture. During my AP Fine Art program in High School, my teacher noticed the consistent use of lettering and symbols in my art works and suggested I look into graphic design as an area for further study. From there I continued to pursue fine art but knew I would make a living via graphic design.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
RP: Throughout most of my career I've operated as an independent contractor and stayed away from working for a larger outfit or building a small studio. While I occasionally subcontract for smaller agencies as well as outsource tasks beyond my capabilities, I prefer a more hands-on, direct approach to each project — ultimately conceptualizing and executing from start to finish.

FS: What is "design" for you?
RP: Design is about efficient communication and problem solving. Design must be functional. I strive to create effective work that does not follow current trends or attempt to wow people on visual aesthetic alone. The solutions should be visually appealing but not in a way that marries them to a specific time period.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
RP: I enjoy creating clean typographic logos & monograms. I also enjoy working on brand identity projects and grid-based layout for websites.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
RP: The first thing I designed for a company was a typography-based graphic for the bottom of a skateboard.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
RP: My favorite physical materials to work with is pencil and grid paper. On the computer, Adobe Illustrator is my most used program.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
RP: I have a daily system for being productive but that doesn't necessarily mean that I will be creative. The house must be clean and everything in order. I like to spend some time outside doing something unrelated to what I'm working on. Then I sit down with a pencil and paper. If it works out, then I dive in, but if nothing comes to me, I won't force it and I'll take the day off.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
RP: I have not had an exhibition in many years but have been actively working on a new series of large scale figurative works on canvas. I took a break from fine art to focus more on design until recently. This new series, Intersections, was started almost 3 years ago, which I hope to show at some point soon.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
RP: I'm inspired by a lot of things but I'm most drawn to architecture, furniture, hand-painted or utilitarian typography, and nature. I'm very inspired by the way we as humans, and the things we create, interact with nature.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
RP: I'd say my style reflects a very clean, systematic approach to design. I believe in grids and formatting the work on some sort of predefined structure and rules. I enjoy the process but most importantly, it works. I believe that creating work this way promotes flexibility and ultimately timelessness.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
RP: I think companies should spend time finding the right designer for the job — one who understands the brief and overall objectives and is willing to put in the time to do the research and planning. The company should then trust the designer and allow them to work towards the best possible solution.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
RP: Eames Herman Miller Lounge Chair, Hasami Porcelain, Amish-made custom dining table and benches, a large collection of design books (architecture, logo design, furniture design, interiors, etc.), and Dyson products (fan, vacuum).

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
RP: Wake up after sleeping for 8 hours; feed my dog Odin; make my bed and tidy up the house; make a coffee and take it to the front patio while the dog plays in the yard. The rest of the morning into the afternoon is spent on the computer working, painting, or drawing. I take an afternoon break for lunch and may tend to some stuff in the yard or go for a hike. I get back to work for the afternoon and that can sometimes go until very late at night.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
RP: My suggestion is to focus less on current trends and figure out what works best for the objective at hand. Study the great designers of the past and look at the work that has stood the test of time. What logos from 50 years ago are still in use today? What brands haven't had to completely change their website year-to-year? Why?

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
RP: Honestly, I don't. I spend most of my time thinking about design, aesthetics, functionality, and efficiency.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
RP: As long as it takes.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
RP: "Why does it cost that much?"

FS: How can people contact you?
RP: There is contact information on my website rspny.com — including email addresses for different types of inquiries and links to social networking profiles like instagram (@rspny).


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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