His portfolio includes logo design, iconography, illustrations, lettering, and character designs, just to name a few, and given his broad background and insatiable appetite for projects, we thought he would make the perfect interview candidate here on GraphicDesign.
GraphicDesign: Thank you for joining us. Tell us about your background.
Von Glitschka: I am 48 now and have been working in this field for just over 28 years. I’ve been on my own since 2002. Previous to that, I worked in-house at smaller design firms, a small ad agency, and Upper Deck in the late 1990s. I worked on the different sports licenses for the NBA, NHL, and MLB.
I worked for other people for 15 years and, in 2002, my boss at the time for one reason or another saw that other design firms had approached me and thought I might leave. Before he found out more information, he fired me. That’s when I started my own company. That’s the motivation I needed to go out on my own.
GraphicDesign: How much of a leap was it going out on your own?
Von Glitschka: It was a steep learning curve. There’s a lot of difference between doing design for an employer and running your own agency. There are so many aspects of running your own business that they don’t teach you in design school. I plugged into a small business program offered through a local college and became friends with someone involved with that who understood business.
He would meet with me once a month. At the beginning, he audited my business and understood what I did. Taking that information, he helped me figure out how I needed to set things up so the business side of my business was done well. That really helped me from a marketing standpoint.
I originally started by having a lot of local clients. But, over the last 14 years, it has flipped where my local clients are very rare. Most of the work I get now is out of state and out of country. I’d say about 60% or 70% of my work is as a creative hired gun for an ad agency or an in-house art department. That said, I have my own clients, but most are out of state now. I’m designing an identity for a new distillery in Idaho, for example. I’m working with Allstate Insurance developing an iconography for them.
A friend of mine, Justin Ahrens, runs Rule 29 out of Chicago. He works with a company called Lifewater. They go into areas in Africa to remote villages without fresh water services. So, they’ll drill wells and help out. They’ve manufactured these plastic jerry cans so if there isn’t a well in an area, they’ll provide containers with which people can go to a dirty swamp or dirty river and these containers filter 20 liters of water. I’m developing a jerry can type of character they can use to market with. That one is more pro-bono and it’s just a good cause.
GraphicDesign: Tell us about the book you have coming out.
Von Glitschka: I’m working on a book that’s due out in January 2015. It’s called “Take and Make Art.” It’ll be a stock art book for designers. It goes from conceptual and strange to off the wall. It’s unique stock art to generate concepts and use in publications and design projects. It’s a good excuse for me to draw whatever I want.
GraphicDesign: You work with iconography too?
Von Glitschka: Yes, I do. If you get a print collateral piece from Allstate, you’ll see my work. I am working on icons for all of their policies and services.
GraphicDesign: What are your favorite types of designs and which do you feel you excel at the most?
Von Glitschka: I am probably most known for my illustrative design identity, like logo designs. My niche is that I’m a designer, but I’m also an illustrator. I usually leverage illustrative methods in design. A lot of my logos, iconography, and custom typography have illustrative attributes that a lot of designers wouldn’t have because they’re not illustrators. I approach things from an illustrative point of view. That’s why a lot of ad agencies use me: I can adapt to whatever style is needed.
GraphicDesign: How many staff do you have and what’s your company’s structure?
Von Glitschka: My daughter is going to graduate next year, but she has already started working with me on several projects like my book. I have a design posse that is building my artwork. Then, they give me the file and I go through it to make sure it aligns with the aesthetic. My daughter has been great with that too. She worked with me on the jerry can project and she has worked on concept designs. There are three of us total: my daughter, my wife, and myself.
I have seven other people too. I put a post on my Facebook page saying that I was looking for people to help with precision art and posted a test for them. Out of the 30 people who sent it back, I found five who I thought could execute the art on the level I wanted to. They’ll be putting the art in my book together. One is a friend from art school and three are former students of mine, so I know them well.
GraphicDesign: We noticed that you specialize in quite a few areas. Is it difficult trying to work in logo design, branding, web design, and pattern design, just to name a few, all at the same time?
Von Glitschka: I do a good job of compartmentalizing. I put projects in their own context. Design is style-driven, so usually one of the first things I’ll decide is what style I’m going to approach a project with. That will dictate my remaining decisions, so there’s a context for each project. My methodology will be reflected in each project, so that doesn’t really change.
I try to dovetail projects so once one is done, I can jump to another. As you might be able to tell, I like being busy. I don’t like having downtime. Within the context of all of these projects, I always have something I’m doing for myself that I can go back and work on. I think it’s important to explore and share whatever you’re working on.
GraphicDesign: Tell us about your relationship with Lynda.com.
Von Glitschka: Lynda.com approached me and asked me if I would do design content for them. It has been a lot of fun working with them. I develop new courses for them and have a couple that will be coming out in the next month-and-a-half.
That has been a great experience where I get to make my scripts and go down to SoCal and make videos. Not only do I need to get the book done by September, but I also need to get two courses for Lynda.com done by then. It should be an interesting next few months.
The best part about working with Lynda.com and other clients is being able to engage with other designers around the world. I’ve gotten e-mails from designers in Brunei, Pakistan, and everywhere else. I like meeting people who enjoy doing what I do, but never came to mind as places where designers would be camped out.
GraphicDesign.com would like to thank Von for his time and if you are interested in his book “Take and Make Art” it is available to pre-order. Amazon describe the book: “Now, anyone who buys this fun and funky book will get access to thousands of Von’s unique, royalty-free, high-quality illustrations for use in their own projects”. They go on to say “You won’t find royalty-free vector illustrations like this anywhere else”. Who ever buys the book once it’s out in January of 2015 will get 10 new pieces of art each month for five years. So the collection keeps growing. Watch this space as more than likely we will be posting a review of his book!