Original Interview: October 2017

Neon Moiré

Here is a man worth shouting about; Thomas from @neonmoire likes to curate design conferences and summer schools around the world on his platform Neon Moire. He loves the colour purple and is pretty passionate about typography—check out what Thomas created with his side project Tabletto—give it a go if you love a challenge! 

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
Before I went to art school I studied to become a window dresser. But I found out that 2D fits me better. So I studied graphic design at art academy St. Joost in Breda. The first year is a general introduction to all creative fields, from film making to sculpture. I chose graphic design. After the 4 year bachelor I did a Masters degree in graphic design at the same academy. The masters focused on graphic design and urban space. During my studies I started to design for clients, making posters and identities. That grew out to partly freelancing at small studios and building up my own studio. My goal was not to become an independent designer, but I slowly grew into that role, and I really like it. Working closely together with clients, transforming their questions and ideas into clear timeless visual communication. I’m proud that this is something I managed to do.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
I design graphic matter, like books, identities, exhibitions, websites and app’s for profit and non-profit organizations. Focusing on editorial design. Next to that I run the site neonmoire.com, which is a curated design conference guide.

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?
I love to listen to podcast! 

  1. True­ crime podcast ‘Criminal’ by Phoebe Judge.
  2. Death, Sex and Money by Ana Sale. About daily life struggles. Ana Sale has such a nice calm voice.
  3. How I Built This where Guy Raz ask entrepreneurs, about the stories behind the movements they build.

The design podcasts I like to listen to :

  1. Workmode hosted by Alex Nemeroff of digital agency Dynamo/MTL. It has a very strict script about work routines. It’s fun.
  2. The Dirt by Free Tilled Soil a show about UX.
  3. 99% invisible by Roman Mars
  4. The new It’s Nice That podcast by Alex Bec and Will Hudson the founders of It’s Nice That is fun. Every episode they has one topic and they ask three different experts to tell about their take on it.

Oops that’s seven. Their are so much more great ones. And Lime Town… and… 🙂

What’s your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)
Recently I started to hire interns. I don’t know yet. It’s super fun, but also very intense especially since I work mostly alone and travel a lot. So before I started hiring interns I got the advice to hire two interns for the same period. So they could work and learn from each other. I’m still very grateful for that advice because it brings a different dynamic to the studio.

What do you look for in a great portfolio?
Personality and skills I don’t have.

Any passion projects you would like to share?
Right now I’m working on Neon Moiré it’s an online curated guide with the most interesting design conferences / events around the world. The project started because I was always finding out to late that their was a the nice design event happening. I also noticed that their isn’t one complete overview of all cool events. Of course there are a lot of design blogs that  mention events, but that is fragmentary. So on a Friday afternoon in 2015 my friend Jurre helped me build the site. Now, next to the events on the site, I interview conference organizers and speakers and I have a podcast called the Neon Moiré Show.  

Another passion project is Tabletto. Before Neon Moiré I worked a lot on Tabletto, an typographic game, with which you can create any letterform in any language and icons too. It’s very strict but that’s the challenge.

“Now the consumer is the creator, apps like Canva or Square Space make that “simple” design work can be done by anyone not just by trained designers. Which in a way is a good thing because then design competition platforms as 99designs will probably disappear.”

 

Do you ever wish you were a freelancer or in-house designer?
I don’t know. I like being independent. But I’m very curious about the day to day life of an in-house designer. Especially when working in a big tech company. Focusing on improving small parts of the product. When working as an in-house designer in a smaller company I imagine it must be more or less the same as my studio life. Designing lots of different products to promote a product or work your company or client is selling/wants attention for.

But I also see that after a while in-house designers change company or start their own independent studio. Most of the them have a ton of passion projects.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?
It’s hard to say, the craft of graphic design has changed so rapidly since the introduction of the internet. Now the consumer is the creator, apps like Canva or Square Space make that “simple” design work can be done by anyone not just by trained designers. Which in a way is a good thing because then design competition platforms as 99designs will probably disappear.

But is also bad because lots of designers don’t get these gigs anymore, so they can’t uplift the design outcome. Platforms as Tumblr, Dribbble, Behance and Instagram create global trendy styles. And you don’t know if it’s #wip, a mock up or made for real clients, as student or personal work.

That said, I think we are shifting more and more towards screens, adaptive light projections, VR and AR orientated times. So graphic design will focus more on digital spatial design that is aware of its realtime surroundings, with animation and real time adaption to time and space. Instead of designing on a screen for a piece of paper we will design for gestures and touch points in the air. Very exciting and still lots to learn about.

“Instead of designing on a screen for a piece of paper we will design for gestures and touch points in the air. Very exciting and still lots to learn about.”

What advice would you give students starting out?
—Follow your gut feeling.
—Stick to your plan and make it work.
—Ask for help and bend it to your will.

How important is networking to you?
Super important. Most of my client work comes via my network. I like networking and connecting people. I work hard to have a good and diverse network.

Who would be the “dream client” that you would do anything to work for?
I don’t really have a “dream client” more a project I would love to do. That is to design all graphic matter for a Hollywood feature film or a really big event.

Website: dahm.nl, neonmoire.com, tabletto.com
Instagram: @neonmoire
Twitter: @neonmoire