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Elizabeth Joy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel

Founders of Scribble Tone

Primary design concentration:

Web Interface Design and Branding

Most preferred tool for designing:

Little Snapper or the Apple screen capture program, a pencil and paper, Adobe Creative Suite Programs

1. How and why did you choose to become a designer?

[Elizabeth] I have always been interested in design. I grew up in a household very aware of design, supportive of art, and I have always found technology very exciting. My mom and dad redecorated their homes a lot, and since they were divorced, they always asked me for my input. My mom used to be an interior decorator, and artists, and the curiosity towards design, rubbed off. I also have always enjoyed technology. I think the combination of the two became a passion.

I am also drawn to the idea of defining my job duties, working with different industries and teams. It is fun to grow with this profession.

[Travis] As a young kid, I used to spend summers on University campuses as my Dad did his research. I spent a lot of time in the library looking through HTML and Javascript books and taught myself how to make websites. As I continued, I found the design part more interesting and began focusing my time on the creative side of things.

2. Challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them?

[Elizabeth] I have a hard time getting away from the computer. I also struggle with taking my work too personally. Joining an athletic team or other fun activities where other people are depending on my participation forces me to get away, and helps me keep a good balance.

[Travis] I think the biggest challenge is learning to distance yourself from your work. It’s very easy to take a client’s critique as a personal attack. Having a lack of projects to work on can make you feel untalented. It’s important to learn from your mistakes, failures, and weaknesses. Try not to take them too personally, and figure out how to move forward in a stronger position.

3. Your definition of an “elegant solution,” that is, good design?

[Elizabeth] A solution that is clear, expresses the personality of the project and is unique.

[Travis] I think “elegant solutions” present a solution to the objective in a way that enhances and complements the company’s mission, or the object’s purpose. The design must be interesting and inviting to the viewer/user, but not get in the way of its main purpose.

4. From skills to values, what makes a designer successful?

[Elizabeth] Being confident, passionate, thorough, and having a good work-life balance.

[Travis] Successful designers all seem to share a motivation and obsession to continue working on a project until it has more than fulfilled its original objective. Design theory and technical skills can be taught, but a desire to make good work can’t.

5. How do you stay motivated and grow personally and professionally as a designer?

[Elizabeth] There is so much changing in society and in design. By surrounding myself with inspiring supportive people and materials, I encounter more things I want to try and learn. Knowing you can do better is what motivates me.

[Travis] I think it’s important to have creative outlets outside of your professional environment. Often times, these outlets can add skill sets to push your career in new directions. By constantly redefining my professional goals with these new skills, I’m able to stay motivated.

6. For those aspiring to become a designer, whatever the discipline,what is your advice?

[Elizabeth] Work hard, have patience, and surround yourself with talented and inspiring people that are supportive.

[Travis] Just work hard, and don’t be afraid to struggle at times.

7. What is your quest in design?

[Elizabeth] To create elegant solutions, enjoy the process, and keep getting better. To be confident in my designs, and clearly articulate and defend why they are successful.

[Travis] I’m not sure I have a particular long-term quest, except to continue to push my personal creative outlets into my professional life.

Elizabeth Joy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel are the design team of collective Scribble Tone that works on web and interactive, branding and identity, print materials, type and lettering. They highly recommend the presentations at TED.com and music such as Vampire Weekend and Paul Simon.

Image courtesy of Maureen Hanratty.

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Elizabeth Joy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel

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