Daniel Patrick Simmons
Three creatives. Three interviews. Three perspectives.
Part One / Interview from October 2015
How did you get started with design?
It’s been a long process, really. I used to sketch a lot as a kid, but never thought I would pursue anything in the art field. In high school I dabbled in web development and bought the book “html for dummies” for a class. After college, I got an internship in Las Vegas for a non profit – gained lots of experience but it only lasted a year. I created web banners, experimented with video production, but soon got burnt out. I decided to give up design.
I thought I couldn’t make money freelancing, so I got a job at an Apple retail store for three and a half years. I worked with the global marketing team doing ui – it kicked my butt into gear! From then on I had two options; pursue a higher position in Apple or give freelance another try. Apple was great, but I realised I couldn’t accomplish the things I really wanted to. So in 2013, I started freelance again.
What is the most rewarding part of being a designer?
Well, the most rewarding part for me is working with many different people at once. I have the opportunity to work with a variety of different industries; fashion, tech, sunglasses, furniture, the list goes on.
Favourite part about designing?
Favourite is an interesting word. The things that compel me to do design is critical thinking and strategy. I believe design is a culmination of strategy. I would love to be an industrial designer, but don’t have the time to go back and learn that! What burnt me out before was doing everything and not focusing on one area. I do branding because there’s a need, and in order to focus on one thing. I also focus on the relationship and personal side of design – working with people on more than just a design. I have conversations that are way more than just logos! I’m really interested in mentoring in the future.
What are you passionate about?
I am ultimately focused on growing business with clients. Everybody thinks they can be a designer – nowadays it’s so easy. But there is so much work in building a relationship with clients and maintaining that relationship. I think there is this “high brow” pretentious crowd – especially in the Bay Area – where everyone is comparing themselves; which clients they have captured, etc. I think that design should be functional and real and that people should become a designer to remind and tell clients that it’s ok if you’ve never worked with a designer before, we are working on this together.
Designers think they should be exclusive + expensive, but that’s not how I am. People need to understand that Helvetica and Comic Sans were designed and should be appreciated accordingly. I want to be approachable, I’m passionate about the relationship between designer and client.
How do you define success?
Success, for me, is more about daily success, daily measurables. When I think of myself as successful, I don’t think about all the projects I want to do in the future. I need to get daily tasks done, and if I don't, then I’m not being successful. I’m not ever going to get to a point where I’m like “I made it.” I just want to be able to say at the end of the day, “I accomplished what I needed to do.”
Advice for a young designer like myself?
Learning and finding opportunities to speak and talk to a lot of people. Be interested and find out what other designers are doing. I didn’t go through formal training, so I’m interested in what they’re teaching you! There’s such a stigma for designers to wear clarks and a flannel, writing on Field Notes ... these are superficial things. Good designers don’t have to look a certain part. There are no rules in this industry! If you’re looking to grow yourself, find something that you’re interested in. Go with that. Pursue what’s different and very unique to you.
Aside from marketing, we need more individualistic thinkers in the world. Everyone is copying one another. There’s enough people who do design work, but how can we continue to differentiate ourselves from the world? Bring a unique voice, show the rest of the world what you have to offer. So much opportunity to share what you have.