Creative Series : Ben Goetting

Creative Moxie: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into design?

Ben Goetting: I'm 32 years old, born in California and living in Brooklyn, NY. I wouldn't really say I got into design so much as design got into me. I've pretty much been a lover of all things art and music for as long as I can remember. The first time I pulled albums out of my mom's collection to listen to- my choices were based solely on the cover. The Beatles were my favorite, and it all started with seeing covers like Abbey Road, Revolver, and Sgt Peppers. In my teens, the DIY spirit of punk/garage rock really fueled me into making zines, which led to my first job at an indie label that let me have my own (now long defunct) garage label that I did a lot of the design work for out of necessity. A few yeas of random jobs and freelance led me eventually to my position at Vagrant, where I've been working for almost 7 years.

CM: Describe your design style and how did you develop it?
BG: For the most part .. "fucked up and photocopied". Not every project calls for that obviously, but that really comes out when doing personal work or when a client gives me total freedom and I think it fits. I like things done mostly by hand that don't have too much of a digital quality. I've had the same Canon personal copier since my zine making days. I use it to treat a lot of type and images.

CM: You have done design for some well-known musical artist including Dashboard Confessional, Pete Yorn, Fistful of Mercy. What is your process in design, do you base it off the sound of the album or is taken from suggestions of the artist and record label?
BG: Every project is so different, sometimes it's total freedom (Rocket From the Crypt only had a title), sometimes I have a suggestion (Pete Yorn wanted black on black), and sometimes I have all the elements and just have to choose type/layout (like Danny Clinch's amazing photos on Fistful of Mercy).

CM: What would be your dream design project?
BG: Hmm that's tough. I'd love to be involved in the re-branding of a baseball team. More in the roll of art director than designer. The Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins this year and their re-branding stirred up A LOT of talk. Some people LOVE their new look and some people HATE it, not many in between. I personally love it and I would love to be involved in something like that.

CM: Do you ever get in a design funk, and if so what things do you do to get out of it?
BG: Sure. But I pretty much always have a few projects going at once. I find working on something that is less creative and more technical (converting a CD layout to LP or making ads, posters, etc from existing artwork) usually will give me a fresh start. If not... reddit.

CM: How do you promote yourself?
BG: I have the advantage of having a full time job that I really like - so I don't do too much self promotion. I will occasionally do freelance work but only if it's something I'm interested in doing.
CM: Any advice to graphic design students?
BG: Make friends. All of my jobs have come from my personal network. People in the music industry, comedians, publishing, and other designers. As long as you have friends and a decent portfolio, you'll be the first person they think of when they hear of work.

Learn more about Ben Goetting