Work inspiration with
Ralf Herrmann

I run the type foundry Fonts.info, the German typographic community Typografie.info and I publish a typography magazine called TypoJournal.

Hardware

I have a typical designer’s Apple hardware setup: A 2011 MacBook Pro with an additional display when I am at my desk. When I can’t use my MacBook, the iPhone keeps me connected and up to date. There is just no alternative to Apple’s hassle-free infrastructure of integrated hard- and software. My Apple setup is only unique in one aspect: I don’t use Apple’s wireless mice. It might make your desk look stylish, but I prefer precision and functionality in this regard. And therefore I use a mouse made for gamers: a Mad Catz 7. Its very reliable and offers additional wheels and buttons with downloadable configurations made for design apps like Photoshop and InDesign.

Software

For managing my daily tasks and notes I use Wunderlist, the email client Postbox and Evernote.

My graphic design work is almost entirely done in Adobe apps, especially InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator. Despite all the complaints among Adobe users, I consider the Creative Cloud a good deal for me.

For web design I use Dreamweaver. It might have a bad reputation among web developers, because it’s seen as a WYSIWYG editor, but I think that’s a silly way to look at it. You can still use it to create your web projects almost entirely through coding, but in Dreamweaver you can also make use of many additional features built around site management.

For type design I use Glyphs.

What would be your dream setup?

I have it already. I consider myself fortunate to be able to use today’s technological tools for designing and writing. Desktop publishing has been a leap in the field of graphic design and typography as big as the invention of typesetting by Gutenberg itself. And with the internet I can share my thoughs, ideas and design work within minutes throughout the world. What more could I wish for in this regard?

Desktop publishing has been a leap in the field of graphic design and typography as big as the invention of typesetting by Gutenberg itself. 

Inspiration

In my opinion, “inspiration” is an overused term in the design field—just as “creativity”. Originally, inspiration was understood as thoughs and ideas coming to people’s minds from the Gods. But today a designer might just re-use a graphic style seen on an old poster or in another country and call that “inspiration”—because it sounds better that “copying”. Having an open mind, knowing the history of our field and observing today’s trends are obvious parts of our craft in the design field. I don’t think there are secret tricks of “finding” inspiration or creativity—like they would be coins lying on the street.

I rather leave “divine” inspiration to artists. Designers don’t create art and don’t wait for ideas coming from somewhere—designers solve problems. And that’s a craft. In order to master it, I consider knowlegde and curiosity my most useful tools. And therefore I read—a lot. I follow all the latest developments in my professional fields online but I also buy old books—a lot. And as with science, all new answers will only raise more questions. And the more you know, the bigger the chance that you will come up with truly creative ideas—the ones that were never thought before; the ones that solve problems in a truly unique way; the ones which are just convincing and therefore start to to spread and inspire others.

I rather leave “divine” inspiration to artists. Designers don’t create art and don’t wait for ideas coming from somewhere—designers solve problems. And that’s a craft. In order to master it, I consider knowlegde and curiosity my most useful tools.