Sharene Lewis [sharene]
What is your specialty?
Finding the appropriate design solution for each individual client.
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
The homework in design classes was much more fun than reading Shakespeare. I have always loved to create I just didn't know you could earn a living doing it until my second year of college. So I switched my major from Literature to Design.
What has been your professional career path?
My degree is actually in Industrial Design. I freelanced at many offices in the LA area after college. Worked in the corporate world for a few years....hated it. My husband and I started our own office in 1993 and graphics became a larger and larger part of our work. I took over the business when he was offered a job at BMW. Now years later we are divorced and I am running the office by myself. Pi Design has developed into a complete branding consultancy, creating everything from logos and brochures to websites and packaging.
Have you received any awards for your work in the field of design?
A couple, but we don't pursue them much as entering competitions takes time away from our clients. Awards seem to be an ego thing to me and not necessarily about developing your business.
What is your motivation? What makes you get up in the mornings?
Design is everywhere in everything from the flowers outside my kitchen window to the tire treads on my Jeep. I get motivation from all art forms - dance, film, painting, and especially sculpture.
My daughter's cartoons also inspire me. She seems to create these crazy characters from thin air. She is a true creative genius at 11.
How would you define your design style?
Tough question since we really work with each client individually to create their own look. I would say that Pi Design's style is clean. My personal style is much more organic with flowing intersecting lines and shapes.
How do you promote and move your work?
Most of our work comes to us from referrals. We do some email blasts. We work the Social Media scene and our website seems to attract a lot of local attention.
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
Film and definitely more photography
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
We start with the BIG PICTURE. Then we find words, colors, shapes that would resonate with the end user. From there the concepting can begin.
What are your sources for documentation and to generate ideas?
What is your favourite type of customer?
Our ideal customer has a marketing budget in place and doesn't require much hand-holding when it comes to the design process. We like to be involved as marketing partners and work as brand guardians. This way we can ensure the integrity of our designs.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
You always need a launching point. But inspiration can be found anywhere from a great painting to a 3/4 view of a fabulously designed car to the patterns on a leaf. The trick is to use these things only as inspiration then to push and stretch until the design becomes your own. You should be only able to sense the essence of the original inspiration.
After all, there is no such thing as an original thought. All thoughts and ideas stem from memory of something you have seen, heard, felt or tasted before and then branch off from there.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
All caps in a script font
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
I think that more people are exposed to good design now than ever before so it makes it easier to be a designer. Good design used to belong only to the aristocrats now, thanks to companies like Target, IKEA and Apple everyone can own well-designed everyday stuff.
The younger folks definitely have more design tools than we did but that doesn't make them better designers. You still have to understand the basics of what makes good design and what doesn't.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
I am having a hard time with start up companies lately. They require a lot of hand holding and twice the amount of work. And usually for a lot less money.
How do you calculate budgets for a design project?
We figure out how many hours we expect to spend on each phase and then look at other similar types of projects to see how much time was spent on those. Once we have all of that information collected we can make very educated guesses at the amount of time we will need to spend. We then take the number of hours and multiply it times our hourly rate. I like to give a range of price because you never know what complications may arise once the process gets underway.
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
David Carson, Syd Mead, Milton Glaser, Mies van der Rohe, Charles Eames and many many others
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
Adobe Creative Suite and DreamWeaver
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
The final product has to be something that provides the desired result for the client and satisfies my design aesthetic. My personality is happy, fun, outgoing and loud and I understand that that is not always appropriate for the client. I truly appreciate all design as long as it serves the purpose and solves the design problem well.
How do you distinguish passing fads from mainstays in new trends?
Some jobs require something trendy as long as everyone understands that the design is not meant to last forever and will need to be updated. But good design is good design. It will speak to the end user and will not be ignored.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
A catalog with bitchin products and an accompanying website
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?
but mostly we Google to find ideas