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Q&A with Dave Dawson

Graphic designer in NY | Founder of design studio Cottleston Pie

I’m a graphic designer in New York City. I call myself a "graphic designer" because it's the broadest label that fits what I do (and it's what I went to school for), but lately I've been doing less and less designing. I run Cottleston Pie, a tiny design studio. I’m the co-founder of Stash, a service that brings you joy through the mail. I run Get Biked, a weekly email of bikes for sale in NYC and a community for bikers. I ask people questions on the street every Wednesday and post their answers on On a Wednesday. I run What's in Season Today, a tool for finding seasonal fruits and vegetables. And I lend a hand with the Typedia Type News every week.


I have a macbook air 13", which I hook up to an external monitor at home or at my studio. That's about it. I have an iPhone with a busted screen that I use to record the audio of people's interviews on the street for the On a Wednesday project.


I obviously use Photoshop and Illustrator a lot for production work. But I spend a lot time writing, getting my thoughts down on paper. For that I use my own app call scrtchpd, which allows you to take quick notes. If I'm collaborating on something, I'll use either Google Docs or Editorially. I use Omnigraffle for wireframing and putting together user-flows, (only because I haven't found a better option). I write my code in Sublime Text. I have Rdio open all day.

Ideal work environment

I'm not sure if I have an ideal work environment. It kind of depends on the day, my level of concentration, and what commitments I have. If I'm doing production work, or coding, I prefer to work from home. It allows me to really concentrate and focus on just getting done what I need to get done. If I'm doing more concepting work, I usually prefer to do that in the studio. There's always someone around who I can bounce ideas off of, or even just talk to about something completely different to get my mind thinking in a different way.


The inspiration for work that I do usually just comes from problems I see in the world. If there's something that I have the ability to make easier for people, or myself, I just do that. As far as visuals go, I try not to look at too many "designery" sites, as I feel like they water down my output and I just make things that look like other things (which isn't always a bad thing). But if I'm really in a bind, I'll spend some time with some of the design annuals that I keep around. Flipping through some beautiful campaign work can get the juices flowing again. But honestly, taking my dog for a walk has been the best. I've solved more design problems walking my dog than I have sitting in front of a computer.

Admire most

Again, I don't really keep up with the designery stuff too much these days. But there are a few people that have really influenced the way I think about things and approach problems: