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Q&A with Simon Walker

Graphic designer and custom letterer from Austin, Texas

I'm Simon Walker, a graphic designer and custom letterer working in Austin, Texas.

How did you get started in design and typography? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I got my start in design when my drawing teacher in college recognized my love for typography for what it was - a possible future designer in the making - and steered me toward an amazing design school (University of North Texas). Over the years as a designer I'd dabbled a little in some ambitious but clumsy custom type designs, but never really embraced that scene until I started seeing it become a big deal out in the world around 4 or 5 years ago.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your design studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I've been working at home now for just over a year and am loving it. My office is wide open and right next to the kitchen, and there are people coming and going around me every day. I've found that it's a truly energizing environment for me. Depending on what I'm working on and what the expectations are, I can comfortably work there all day long, but there is a natural ebb and flow that comes with being at home all day that I truly love - so, if my girls want to head out for a swim, or some errands need to be run, or we want to do a 2-hour movie lunch, it's all good.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

Absolutely - I'm inspired by all creatives, past and present. I've recently been watching a collection of documentaries on some of the greatest chefs around the world, and I've found a ton of parallels between their approach to their own creativity and my own - as well as a lot of the struggles, which is comforting. I find the same sorts of inspiration from movie makers and musicians and fine artists. I'm as much fascinated by their career lows as I am by their highs; the rocky paths creatives follow in pursuit of their art.

Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?

It's a busy life so I don't get out a ton, and as much as I know I'm supposed to name a bunch of hip outdoor spots I'm really usually happier indoors. My wife and I have figured out that one of the best ways to get out together for a couple hours is to go out for breakfast on weekdays. Some of our favorite places are Walton's, Elizabeth Street, 24 Diner - places with amazing food that are packed during lunch hours or weekends. When you hit them up at 9 or 10 am on a Tuesday you pretty much get the place to yourself.

Who are the designers you admire most?

There probably aren't many names I could mention you haven't heard before, but there's a handful of lesser-known talents that I'm enamored with right now (and have been for a while):

  • Marc Ferrino, a designer I worked with for 12 years at GSD&M Advertising in Austin - one of the straight up most naturally talented people I've ever known, and an amazing human being (which is equally important);
  • Greg Thomas, also a huge natural talent who's ready to explode onto the scene;
  • and Alex Roka, another young, unstoppable up-and-comer in Austin.