10 Questions: Tom Lewek

What do you do and where do you do it?
I’m a Graphic Designer focusing on web/interactive, brand identity and collateral design. I work as a freelance Designer for groups like KRD, Digital Surgeons, Care Networks and other small agencies in the area, as well as a variety of companies and individuals around the world. I’ve also done work for Unilever, Edenspiekermann, Mastercard and a handful of exciting startups over the past 9 years. Currently I’m traveling the world with my wife Kathryn who is an opera singer, but we do have a home base in a quiet sea-side community in southwestern Connecticut.

What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it?
I’ve always been an artist, but getting into design was purely out of necessity — I have an Illustration degree, but soon after college realized how difficult it was to find consistent work. So I interned as a designer/graphic artist and quickly immersed myself in all things design to get up to speed. Come to think of it when I graduated from RIT, I rarely used a computer for my work. Things changed quickly.

I instantly fell in love with type design and typography, and methodologies for working on the web. Design was a perfect fit — my inner geek gets excited about organization, processes and anything scientific or mathematic that can help create better outcomes. I stay in it because, for any designer worth their salt, it becomes not just a career but an obsession. There’s no turning back.

What is your single favorite portfolio piece?
One of the first responsive web sites I designed while working at KRD was for author Jay McInerney. It’s always a blast to work on another creative’s site and especially so in this case since Jay is such an acclaimed novelist and a very public figure. There’s so much personality we could inject into this project that can’t be done with other sites. It’s also my favorite because of the challenges we faced as a team, and the amount I was able to learn and grow as a designer in the process.

What/Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I’d like to return just a bit to my artistic roots — drawing and painting, and creating more tangible art. Possibly design a typeface and write more often. I think the goal for me is always more creative freedom in whatever capacity that comes in. I’m certainly happy to be traveling the world just as I am now, and enjoying life.

Who/What are your biggest influences?
Designers like Michael Beirut, Erik Spiekermann, Jason Santa Maria and Jessica Hische — agencies like Paravel, Weightshift, Ptarmak and Happy Cog — type design studios like H&FJ, Mark Simonson, TypeTogether and HVD Fonts.

What do you wish you did better?
Design more efficiently in quicker iterations. Agonize less over the tiny details all of the time. Work harder on discovering creative and effective ways of communicating design ideas to others.

Why Connecticut?
I moved to Connecticut after my wife and I finished up college in Rochester, NY. She grew up here and I grew to love it for its proximity to the Long Island Sound, to NYC, to nature…along with its great history and energy. It fits our lifestyles perfectly.

Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with?
There have been many, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from everyone I had the pleasure of collaborating with. If I had to pick one point in time that had a huge impact, it was shortly after college when I interned for Mark Brickey & Beth Manos at Hero Design Studio. Their work ethic is incredible and they set a great example for me when I was just starting out, of what a designer should be: energetic, passionate and out-spoken, witty, driven, with a love for both the art-side and the business-side of things. Mark and Beth are design entrepreneurs with personalities and attitude that you don’t come across every day.

What are your loves/passions outside of this field?
Long-distance running, opera and music in general, cognitive psychology, history, and travel. I’m partial to Bret Easton Ellis novels, punk rock (and all of its sub-genres), and campy horror movies.

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
How to better stay focused, optimistic and motivated amidst everything else going on — all of the distractions of life and the world around us. Overall, just being able to establish a good balance of work and life.

3 Comments

Ann Williaams
Ann Williaams 6.10.13

Sounds like you enjoy your work. I have a great niece that just graduted from RIT in Rochester. She majored in criminal justice and is going to stay and get her masters. She graduated with honors and would like to work for the FBI. Ann Williams

Tom Lewek | Connecticut Creatives Interview

[...] out the interview here: 10 Questions: Tom Lewek and don’t miss the other great interviews with CT-based designers, illustrators and creative [...]

Mike
Mike 8.30.13

Great story Anne! My cat can dance and moonwalk to Michael Jackson’s thriller. Can your daughter do that?


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