Interview with the maker of Picons, Gasper Vidovic
Lawyer, top-selling icon designer and with a dream of becoming a venture capitalist. Gašper Vidovič is definitely not your traditional icon designer. Read about how he got started with icon design, his opinion about the new iOS 7 icons and what he is up to now.
Martin: If you had to choose one icon you have designed to go on your tombstone what would it be? And why?
Gašper: The “Vespa” icon. I love it and I’ve been working on it for more than a week to make it as it is right now. It symbolizes fun, mobility & freedom. I’m also a little obsessed with Vespa’s, owning three of them right now ;)
Martin: Do you know what your most popular icon ever is and why do you think it is popular?
Gašper: I think it might be the “store” icon. It’s simple, very recognisable and can be widely applied. But maybe I’m wrong. Do you know which one is it?
Martin: Which current business would you most like to own and why?
Gašper: My dream job was always to be a VC (venture capitalist). Travel around the world, searching for startups with great ideas, advise them and stay in touch with new technologies. That job would also give me the opportunity to combine both fields of interests: new technologies and law.
Martin: Whose (designer, developer, entrepreneur etc.) work right now is really impressing you?
Gašper: I had few idols in my early years. I still look up to them. One was definitely Mark Klein from Pixel-Industries (his site is no longer up) and the other one is Stefan Dziallas from Iconwerk. In my opinion Stefan is *the* god of icons. I’ve never thought how many visual possibilities and potential there is in icons, until I saw his work. It’s really stunning.
Martin: What logo in the world would you most like to redesign and why?
Gašper: Yahoo! Even the recent one is awful. I don’t like it at all. Maybe because I hate purple ;)
Martin: How would you describe yourself?
Gašper: I’m 29 years, a bachelor of laws and self-taught graphic designer. I’m hyperactive, multi-disciplinary and love to learn new things. I do that constantly. I started creating websites in 1998. I did some coding stuff in the early years too, but soon realized design is more my field of play. I was designing websites for various clients for almost 10 years. It got me really tired. I thought of leaving that space or at least starting something new, my own business, where I could create stuff, without serving the client’s wishes which could be very painful sometimes.
I got into icons in 2009, when I started to sell my first collections. It was an experiment, I had no clue, if someone would really buy or use them. It was mainly a personal collection of 140 icons, that I had used on my client’s websites. At that time the web wasn’t really crowded with web stores dedicated to vector icons. The feedback was great and the icons were a great success. I enhanced my skills step by step and redrew each icon several times. The icons gave me the freedom I missed when designing for an agency.
Martin: Tell us about something interesting you’re working on at the moment?
Gašper: Right now I’m working on two icon bundles: designing new icons in the iOS 7 style (guess all of the icon designers out there are doing or have done the same) and the fourth release of my Basic icons:
Martin: What’s the best thing to happen to you this year?
It’s ridiculously hard and you can try only 3 times in your life.
Gašper: I passed the state law exam. It’s the last step you need to achieve in our country, if you want to practice law as a judge or attorney. It’s ridiculously hard and you can try only 3 times in your life. It was very challenging, with many ups and downs, also emotional and a huge hurdle.
If you consider I was doing my designer job and was with a startup in San Francisco and Boston at the same time. It was a huge relief when I passed that, like a chapter in my life that I closed. It’s sort of strange, the exam was not my ticket to the law business, but another way to have a good background and keep on doing what I really love — icons!
Martin: Can you tell us more about your decision to pursue Law as a main career?
Gašper: As I said, law isn’t actually my main career. I live almost two different lives. When people ask me what I do for a living I often don’t know what to answer. Right now I’m working as a law expert on the court in my hometown, but my heart & brain are still in design and I try to manage both things as good as I can, but the focus has always been design. Doing both things is keeping me in a sort of mental balance, engaging both sides of my brain.
Martin: Why do you think it is people are choosing more corporate routes as their primary career paths and almost having design as a paid hobby?
Gašper: Maybe our business got overcrowded with people doing designs and even doing complete websites/webshops for peanuts. Not that it’s hard to survive, but the competition is crazy. Only the best can survive, and there are constant changes in the technology and ways design can be incorporated or applied. When I created the first website for selling icons, I knew only around 5 dedicated web shops for icons. Now I’ve got more than 150 bookmarks with sites selling various icons. Some of them are brilliant and some sell just crap. That’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a race and only the most-focused, hard-working and talented can win.
Martin: What do you think is lacking from the design industry currently i.e. lack of money, demands, expectations?
I don’t think there is a lack of a particular something, but the client’s expectations are getting higher and higher.
Martin: As a creative person do you face a dilemma in choosing Law School over Art School? Is this a choice of the head and not the heart?
Gašper: Honestly, it was the choice of the head. When I started designing in 1998, graphic design and especially web design wasn’t a real job in our country. We didn’t have as big an IT industry as the rest of the western world. Nobody really imagined this could be something we could live from our whole life. So it was reasonable to have a backup plan and good education.
Martin: What’s your opinion on design conferences and which ones do you attend? (if any)
Gašper: I think conferences are more for start-ups and especially developers, to stay in touch with upcoming techniques, services and to get some ideas. I’ve been on few, when I worked with a start-up, but have never been on a conference dedicated to design. I use Dribbble as my “conference” to stay in touch ;)
Martin: What is your opinion on the new iOS icon designs and how do you think Jonny Ive has coped/delivered this year? Any specific examples?
Gašper: Oh… when I first saw the new iOS 7, I was shocked, like many of us. My first words were “these icons are a joke! No way Apple did that.” Everybody was somehow expecting a more cleaner style, going away from skeuomorphism, but the step Apple took was really dramatic and courageous. I was sure that Dribbble would get overflooded with new icon suggestions and I wasn’t wrong. Some of the concepts, released just a few hours later, were actually great.
I’m afraid user experience took some hits due to the clean & flat style, as skeuomorphic objects were very practical and clear in combination with a touch-screen device.
Gašper: Now, after using iOS 7 for few months (I have a developer account, so I installed the beta 1), I got used to it. After all, it’s a matter of time, that users will accept the new style. I’m afraid user experience took some hits due to the clean & flat style, as skeuomorphic objects were very practical and clear in combination with a touch-screen device.
P.S. The “settings” icon is a shame! I lost some respect for Jony’s work because of that and I’m always sad, when I have to look at it.
Martin: The new IOS designs and icons are a new approach to icon design with the stroked style. They have caused quite a bit of stir in the design community — what’s your opinion on them and will you move the style of Picons in that direction?
Gašper: Yes, as I already mentioned, I’m working on icons in the “iOS 7” thin-line style. It’s a part of our job, to follow trends and offer our customers icons they need. We have many mobile developers, which are effectively our customers, and they can hardly wait to get the new icons. I hope I can catch December this year, as the release date!
Martin: Apart from IOS7 and Apple what had the biggest impact on designers in 2013?
New techniques like font-face, using SVG’s and non-systemic fonts, which all took over. That also gave icon designers some new and exciting ways how to implement icons, without loss of quality.
Martin: 2014 will be all about…..?
Gašper: Wish I knew the answer to that ;) I hope it will be about user-experience and simple & smart interfaces. I believe that modern user interfaces (like Apple’s iOS is) will all take over on the electronic driven objects we use in our everydays. From home appliances to cars.
My current location is Ptuj, Slovenia (in the very center of Europe). It’s the oldest town in Slovenia and my hometown.
Coffee, Tea or energy drink?
It’s coffee. Latte in the morning and then few espresso’s over the day.
Oh, I rarely read books for pleasure ;) The last one, I guess, was Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Amistad (1997), Fracture (2007), …
Your favorite sneakers?
Diesel Magnete Exposure Low Blue
In your Headphones for working?
Various pop radio stations, although my favorite artists are Xavier Naidoo, Jamiroquai, Norah Jones,…