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Q&A with Ben Barry

Visual designer living and working in Brooklyn

My name is Ben Barry. I am always hesitant to place a title or label on what I do. In the most general sense I am a visual designer, but I am also an illustrator, photographer, printer, book binder, letterer, programmer, writer, strategist, and entrepreneur.

How did you get started in design? What is your background?

For as long as I can remember I’ve had an interest in drawing, computers, and architecture. When I was in high school my uncle gave me a computer with Photoshop on it. I immediately began doing every tutorial I could find online, and building my first websites. I slowly began to realize that web design was something people did for a living. You couldn’t major in web design back in 2001, and I didn’t want to do computer science so I ended up in the Communication Design major in the College of Art at the University of North Texas. My first day of college, my first class at 8am was Introduction to Communication Design with Professor Eric Ligon. It was that moment when everything came together for me and I learned what being a designer meant. My focus in college was in critical thinking, and more traditional craftsmanship of print design. I never lost my interest in technology however, and enjoy designing for the web as much as I do designing and screen printing a poster by hand.

What are you working on now?

I have a few really awesome clients I’m working with right now. One of the coolest is designing the identity for a startup that’s building some seriously badass new creative tools. I’ve also recently rebuilt my personal website——and I’m still slowly adding new content to it. I’ve also been designing a cabin to build on my parents farm in Oklahoma, and working on setting up an online store where I can sell some prints and things.

What tools and software do you use for your work?


  • Pencil / Pen & Paper
  • iMac / Macbook Air
  • iPhone (Camera)
  • Sony RX1 / Leica M
  • Epson Expression 11000XL
  • HP LaserJet M750


  • iA Writer
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Clear
  • Keynote
  • Sparrow
  • Spotify
  • Sometimes
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Indesign
  • Atom
  • SketchUp
  • Processing

What is your ideal work environment?

A private studio space attached to / on the same property as my home. The studio would have big long desks / tables with room to spread out projects, a cork board wall, plenty of shelving and flat files, a dedicated place for doing tabletop photography, a small wood shop, and finally a screen printing / letterpress printing area. Oh, and a super high speed internet connection.

Where are your favorite places for art?

I’m a bit biased, but the Artist in Residency program I helped start at Facebook has brought in some incredible artists who have produced a lot of really great work. Every time I go back for a visit I’m blown away by all that has happened since I was last there.

Who are the designers, artists you admire most?

Difficult to create a truly comprehensive list, but here is what comes to mind in this moment.

Contemporary—Jessica Svendsen, Everett Katigbak, Tim Belonax, Brent Couchman, Carl DeTorres, Sarah Labieniec & Ryan Meis, Robin Standefer & Stephen Alesch, James Victore, Charles S. Anderson, Michael Schwab.

Historical—Lou Dorfsman, Corita Kent, Joseph Eichler, Oskar Fischinger, Alvin Lustig, Doyald Young, Yusaku Kamekura, Alexandre Steinweiss, Buckminster Fuller, Samuel Mockbee.