Pete Harrison is a very successful designer that has mastered the art of photo-manipulation. As a freelance designer Pete works for many different companies doing
commissioned work, he explains to us what a designer needs to do to find clients, as well as his inspiration for his work. Pete is also currently working with a clothing line, so be sure to check it all out.
1. Welcome to Psdtuts+! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in the field.
I have been interested in graphic design from a very young age, and quickly realized this is the career path that I wanted to follow, so I could tailor my studies towards this. At secondary school I studied art and design, and then digital art at university specializing in design. To be honest I was mostly self taught, my studies just helped me set briefs that I could work around.
I started creating digital images just for fun and it seemed interesting around 2003. Over the next few years I set up a website to showcase my creations, and expanded my online presence. I got posted on a few blogs and linked from my other designer friend’s websites. Clients started contacting me after that to do freelance work, and getting paid for doing something I enjoyed, which was a dream come true really. After working full-time in London for a while I decided to go freelance and that is what I currently pursue.
I also run a few clothing labels on the side, working with a variety of artists. Funkrush - Clothing that makes you smile Funkrush and SuperCombo - Nerdy style clothing that you won’t be embarrassed to wear SuperCombo.
2. From looking at your work we see you have landed a couple of big jobs designing ads for companies. In your opinion what is the proper way for designers to market themselves in order to attract clients?
I would say make a really nice website, and have a strong portfolio of work that is easy and clear to see on your website. Then join up to art and design communities, perhaps a few art groups and share your work, make some friends in the scene, then you can network and link off each other etc.
3. In your case designing is not only a hobby but its your job. What advice would you give younger designers who hope to get hired by agencies and companies that want to use their talents?
Try and find the right balance between work and play, its quite important and something I still need to work on, so start early. Perhaps you could do some work experience for free at a nice agency, would give you experience and look good on a CV.
4. Can you describe your specific style of design in a few words, and then tell us what techniques or mind frame a person should have to excel in this style?
People always say to me that they love my style, or they can see my style in a certain image. I think it’s just the way I work and some of the techniques I use, using similar elements in a lot of my pieces. Recently I created a PSD file with a lot of elements I use (various custom brushes, light effects, sprays, pixie dust etc.) and then its easy to drag and drop rather than re-create all the time. I guess my style focuses a lot around light, so perhaps study how light works and bends.
5. When working on a design are you strictly using Photoshop? Or do you draw a rough draft of your design before hand?
When working on a personal piece, I have loads of doodles and ideas in my sketchbook for pieces, so it’s just a case of creating it digitally. Normally finding stock photography, creating digital elements to add to the piece and blending it all together. If it's client work, it might work the same way, but it depends on what they want, what kind of style and design.
I have a very nice PC, with 4GB ram and 2 monitors, and a good sound system with lots of hard drive space. Software for working is Photoshop, I use this everyday. Illustrator also for importing elements and things into Photoshop.
6. Your type of artwork involves a lot of stock use. So give us a look into the various websites you prefer to get your stocks from.
I am quite lucky because in my career I have worked with a variety of photographers, so I can have shoots on demand. Sometimes even shoot stuff myself. Apart from that the only stock site I use is istockphoto, which has a vast array of photography to use.
7. Give us a look into your top sources of inspiration for your artwork. You can give us a website, a designer, or anything in your life that helps you visualize the ideas to your amazing work.
Inspiration is hard to pin down, it’s quite a broad subject I see design inspiration everywhere I go. Some comes from personal experiences and my own imagination, it could be anything. Recently fashion and clothing labels and music is one of my biggest inspirations. Whilst designing anything can inspire me and change the thoughts or design process behind an image. My work is always changing though, I got stuck doing the same sort of thing for a while as that is what clients wanted, but am starting to experiment a little more now.
8. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity at interviewing you, any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?
Enjoy creating, don’t just do it for other people, create it for yourself too. Don’t rip, its fine to be inspired though! Also it’s important to wear something comfortable whilst sitting at the computer, I heard Funkrush do some good stuff. Thanks!
Where to find Pete on the Web
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