Kim Knoll [kimknoll]
What is your specialty?
Branding, Print, Packaging and Web Design
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
I was always drawing or making arts and crafts as a kid. Art and gymnastics were the two things I was interested in. I took as many fine art classes as possible all the way through high school and one of my teachers recommended that I look into graphic design. It wasn't very popular at the time and there weren't a lot of schools with design programs. I visited the schools that had design programs and looked at design books. Once I understood what it was, I was hooked.
What has been your professional career path?
I had 2 internships at design firms during college. My goal was to get into a design firm full-time after graduation, but the economy was rough and people weren't hiring because of 9/11. I started out working for a healthcare management company as an in-house designer. After a couple years, I was able to get into a design firm, but it was very small and the company went under while I was there. I decided to take a design position at an ad agency and worked there for 2 years. It was a great agency, but I longed for more branding, packaging and web design versus traditional print ads and counter cards. I accepted a position with a small design firm and after 1 year, they started feeling the effects of the current economy. My salary was cut in half and I decided to take a leap of faith and become a freelancer. I had always wanted to be on my own and it seemed like a good time and I had nothing to lose. I freelanced for 2 years and loved it. My husband was also freelancing and we would occasionally brainstorm together on projects... eventually we decided to start a company together and Knoed (pronounced node) was born.
Have you received any awards for your work in the field of design?
Yes - they can all be seen at the bottom of our Information page here: http://knoed.com/information.php
What is your motivation? What makes you get up in the mornings?
Goals. That's the best way to put it. If you don't have goals, then you're working toward nothing. I have a small list of goals that I try to achieve every year and bigger goals that are more like 5-10 year plans. I usually begin a new list right before the start of a new year.
How would you define your design style?
Androgynous, urban and contemporary. I always try to include an element of surprise or a meaningful concept. There has to be something that gives the design a wow factor.
How do you promote and move your work?
Hmm... I don't really. I've submitted a few projects to inspirational sites, as well as our company site. If and once it gets featured, it gets passed around and posted on a bunch of different sites and blogs. All of our business is from word of mouth. We haven't paid a single dollar for advertising.
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
I would love to learn web development. I've talked with a lot of designers about this, and it really is using a different side of your brain. Once you really get into the programming side, you start to lose your creative side. It's hard to do both and be good at both. As much as I would love to learn development, I think I'll leave that to the pros.
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
Usually I'll come up with 3 different design directions: 1 that's somewhat traditional in size and format, 1 that pushes the boundaries more with size and format, and 1 that really pushes the boundaries.
Shape is always the first concern I have in case the client wants the piece to fit into something standard - like an envelope or folder. Though, the concept usually dictates the shape. Color is the last thought I have before I begin designing. I usually have the entire design in my head first, and then I put it on paper.
What are your sources for documentation and to generate ideas?
I'm an observer and am constantly taking in the things around me. I'm affected by everything - billboards, signage, graffiti, websites, etc. Sometimes I'll look at "The Best Of..." books or go online and search through websites full of design inspiration. But I've found that I do that if I'm stuck... like I'm looking for a solution. And I don't ever find the solution that way because it's too specific. So instead, I usually take my dog for a walk and clear my head. Towards the end of the walk, it's almost guaranteed that I'll come up with a solution and hurry back home to draw it out.
Which festivals or awards in your field do you find most interesting?
I think the best design award shows are Communication Arts and Print Magazine. Those are the 2 that I hope to get into.
What is your favourite type of customer?
One who trusts my judgement and lets me do my thing. One who I can easily talk to and be open and honest with. One who I can joke around with. One who responds quickly and prefers emails vs. phone calls. For me, it's all about a connection. You have to enjoy the people you work with and I try to create lasting relationships with our clients.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
No... I think we're influenced by the things we see and sometimes it's easy to design something without realizing it's in our subconscious. But outright copying is stealing and there's nothing creative or admirable about it.
Recently, someone copied my entire website and used it as their own. They did "View Page Source" and copied every piece of the code - including the Google Analytics I had set up. I realized what they had done because my analytics was tracking their website. Not only did this person copy my site once, she made a 2nd copy so her husband could use it for his photography site. It's amazing to me what people will do.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
The only thing I don't like is when someone designs something that looks like it was done in MS Word. And then call her/himself a Designer.
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
Definitely. New talent is always fresh and exciting to me. I love seeing new perspectives and emerging designers straight out of college. Older generation designers tend to get comfortable and stick to what they know or what they were good at.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
We decline work when we're either too busy or if there are big red waving flags with the project or client. We also don't take on work that we don't believe in.
How do you calculate budgets for a design project?
We have an hourly rate and multiply that by the number of hours it will take us to complete the project, based on the scope of work.
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
Locally, I admire the work from Arlo, Someoddpilot and We Cant Stop Thinking, among others.
Nationally, I admire the work from Eight Hour Day, Studio On Fire, Area 17, Mucca Design and 160over90, among others.
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. We use Dreamweaver and Flash for online capabilities.
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
Such a good question. My designs usually reflect my personality until the client begins to art direct. We usually only put the projects in our portfolio that best represent our vision—both for the project and for the type of work we want to be doing.
How do you distinguish passing fads from mainstays in new trends?
I like to have an element of a new trend mixed with a classic grid or a classic typeface. For me, there has to be something timeless with the design. The new trend that gets added into it is usually done through color, type or a single, expressive design element.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
I would definitely be a hair stylist.
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
Almost every day, I say that I love my job. I'm living my dream job at this very moment. As far as a dream project at this moment, I'd love to work on a brand from the ground up that involves packaging.
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
I think I'll always be in this field in one way or another, but I won't be designing in 20 years. At least not full-time.
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?