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Q&A with Tim Belonax

Graphic designer, writer, educator

Hi! I’m Tim Belonax and I’m and a Graphic Design Lead at Airbnb and a Senior Lecturer at the California College of the Arts.

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

I’ve been drawing since I was about four years old. I started illustrating the bedtime stories my parents would tell me. I continued to draw as a hobby while also injecting it into school assignments. I was working with type and imagery before I learned about the concept of graphic design. I was slowly introduced to it when I started looking into colleges in high school. My first serious introduction to the subject was at the Rhode Island School of Design, where I earned my BFA.

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 lucky to work in a variety of environments that I’ve loved. One was an intimate studio that allowed me to learn directly from clients and the other was a studio that was a print-makers dream. Both of these spaces balanced a casual attitude with a serious work ethic; both allowed for hands-on making in the space; and both played music for the whole studio. I think that demonstrates a solid work dynamic—shared music.

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

I value work ethic and an inquisitive nature over inspiration. A healthy curiosity and thirst for learning are vital traits in this profession. I’m always trying to gain new knowledge, whether that’s through attending lectures, reading books, or visiting museums.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?

The one place I will almost always walk into is a bookstore. It doesn’t matter what city I’m in, I can’t seem to resist the warm embrace of these shops. Some of my favorites in San Francisco are William Stout, City Lights, Park Life, and Green Apple Books.

Who are the graphic designers you admire most? 

I really admire graphic designers that I’ve gotten a chance to work with because I’ve been lucky to see more of how their lives work with and around their profession. Christopher Simmons, Lorraine Wild, Martin Venezky, Jon Sueda, and Nancy Skolos are just a few of these people.