Drawing shit and making money: An interview with Ryan Prudhomme
Ryan Prudhomme is a designer at Skookum by day and a freelance branding wizard by night. He also ranked as one of the top 50 designers on Dribbble in 2017 and is a member of our Happy Learners Slack channel. In this interview, Ryan shares what got him into design, the special place logo design has in his heart and how consistency and carving out time for your work can make all the difference in creating a large social following.
Why are you a designer?
The short answer is that I'm a designer because I'm not good at anything else! The longer and more accurate answer is that I got into design through photography. Having taken photography classes all through high-school, I was pretty interested in photography as a career. During my senior year I took an advanced digital photo class that had us doing heavy photo manipulation in Photoshop. I think that was my first interaction with one of Adobe's products and I was hooked.
In college I switched majors five-ish times. Eventually, I ended up pursuing photography through a studio art major. At the same time I got a part-time job as a retoucher at a photo studio. One of my co-workers was also a freelance designer of sorts and started showing me some of the logos and designs he had been working on for local clients. This kind of blew my mind because I didn't really know that this career existed. I was in love with the fact that you could draw shit and actually make money doing it. I immediately started teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and consumed every design resource I could get my hands on. That was the turning point in my life where I decided I wanted to be a designer and I've been chasing that feeling ever since.
Why logo design and branding?
I'm interesting in brand & identity design because it provides a unique challenge. You essentially have to design the experience that someone will have when they interact with a company for the first time (and every time after that). It's also something that will always be needed so I'm investing in a skill that will always be able to provide for me—that is until the robots take over.
How do you balance your role at Skookum, your freelance clients and your personal work? Where do you find the time?
Hah—that's a great question. This is probably something I struggle with the most. Its pretty hard to balance a day job, freelance work and a home life. It really all comes down to sacrificing free time in order to be able to work on freelance work during nights and weekends. I'm still working on my ability to freeze time but until then I'll forgo playing video games and binge-watching TV to make room for work.
Where do you find your clients?
Usually they come to me. Most of my clients reach out to me because they've seen my work on Dribbble or Behance. I also get the occasional job through word of mouth and referrals.
How do your hobbies and interests play a role in the work you create?
My one and only hobby outside of design is playing Dungeons & Dragons. It has allowed me to have a creative outlet (other than design) that is not stressful and unrelated to my career. Its also has helped me become more charismatic and better at story telling which directly influences my design career—especially when it comes to client presentations.
You have over 18,000 followers on Dribbble. What tips would you give other designers for building followings of their own?
The easiest way to build a following on social platforms is consistency in showing off your work. People will start to remember you and become invested in your development as a designer. But don't forget to only post quality work that you're proud to share. Don't just post trendy crap to boost your follower count.
If everyone reading could do just one thing to improve their creative career, what would it be?
Keep learning. Pour as much time as you can afford into growing your skills and trying new things.