Owner, Garson Design Services
• I want to see Steve's resume
• What's up with Steve's personal life?!
Member Since 2008
Member Since 2006
Steve Answers The Tabloids Questions
What is your specialty?
Anything that prints (except specialty items) and web development. We are a small boutique studio that designs what communicates most effectively the clients product or services.
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
As a youngster I would draw holiday cards for my parents and friends and liked the reactions I received. My mother, from Germany, was always fascinated about American culture and advertising - singing commercial jingles around the house. I began as an illustrator but always found the added complexity of art, type, and design to be more interesting.
My dad was so busy with his work as a civil engineer that my sister and I would go with him on Sundays to work. At the raw age of 7 I got to play with all the draftsman's tools – the different sorts of color pencils, big tables with t-squares, mechanical pencils – it was toy land for me and a way I got familiar with the tools of the trade.
I also always seem to excell in my art classes and what I became known for (along with a mean outside B-Ball shot).
What has been your professional career path?
Initially in the Army, working on electronics for Cobra helicopters and then Illustrator for the battalion. Photostat work and then a long string of production and design work at various San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Marin County Ad Agencies. Graduate of the Academy of Art University and University of San Francisco. Then in 1992 opened up my own graphic design studio in Fairfield, my hometown.
Have you received any awards for your work in the field of design?
Numerous Graphic Design USA awards - see http://awards.garsondesign.com
Back in my agency days I received a number recruitment advertising awards.
What is your motivation? What makes you get up in the mornings?
Getting opportunities to do some juicy design work that I can't wait to wake up and work on. Don't always get that so.... running a successful business in art that supports myself and employees.
How would you define your design style?
Design that primarily communicates the clients message to promote their product or service effectively. Then our design experience and skills kick in to give them something better looking than they had received before. I like the practicality and grid design of the bauhaus, the looseness of 60's design and corporate cleanness of design since then.
How do you promote and move your work?
Good work creates a buzz and begets more work when others see it. Also we have joined all the local chambers and try to get all over the internet (like this site!).
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
With time I've learned to restrain yourself and not spread yourself to thin. Work and concentrate on your core design areas. We do broker printing to control the quality of the end product for the client. We are doing more back-end database web work. I would love to travel the world more to see different design work in other countries.
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
Get to know the client, their industry and their competition. Find the best out there to match or better it. Rough up initial fresh ideas away from the computer. Then bring it to life on the computer and get colleagues feedback.
What are your sources for documentation and to generate ideas?
Look at design everywhere - you never know where the idea will come from. Do non-design work (like build a wood cabinet) to work on problem solving.
What is your favourite type of customer?
A knowledgeable client that has a good eye, common sense and skilled enough to know when to lean on your design experience. Also a client that wont try to work you over the final paid budget.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
They say there's no such thing as a new idea – so that's our challenge to create new unique work that's personalized for the client. For inspiration I look at quality design work in the design annuals to mentally up the design bar on what we're going to create.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
The obvious - bad design, poor typography, fad design. Function following form.
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
I think newer generations may not be burdened by the history of design and are going to lead exploring into what is exciting for the younger set now. As experienced designers we need to be open to that, try new things that are still designed well.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
I don't have to necessarily like the client's product or service – unless I can't ethically agree with it. I wont work with a client that tries to prey upon naive designers that get financially taken for a ride.
How do you calculate budgets for a design project?
For typical projects like logo design, brochures, etc. we have done enough of them to have a general range of budget. Projects we haven't done before we have to give it our best guess and tell the client to prepare to be a bit flexible.
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
I started in San Francisco in the early 80s and the "Michael's" were king in the design world then and I was heavily influenced by their skills and professionalism. Michael Manwaring, Michael Schwab, Michael Patrick Cronin, Michael Osborne, etc. Also, when I worked at the ad agencies, I actually looked up to our sales staff and tried to learn from them - knowing I would be running my own business in time.
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
The typical: QuarkXPress, Freehand, Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Acrobat, Filemaker Pro, etc.
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
I'm very conscious to create designs that will actually work for the client. So I tend to scratch below the surface a lot and ask a lot of questions. The end result hopefully will look like something that some good thought processes went into it – which is my personality!...and it also looks good – maybe even some "wow" factor!
How do you distinguish passing fads from mainstays in new trends?
Fad design work is obvious. What does stand the test of time is design that just works well. Every fad design has it's merits and the good parts of it will live on in the continuing body of the designers tool belt.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
Traveling the world taking in the colors, styles and culture. Then come back continue doing good design work of my choice - maybe write a book.
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
Maybe museum exhibit graphics or an artsy designy firm.
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
Still plugging along doing even better work with an exciting crew. Ok, maybe retired, hanging out on a porch playing fetch with my Husky dog.
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?
Not too many - maybe Creative Pro, online website designs, stock photo sources.