An interview with Nick Slater

By Ed Vinicombe on Mar 24th, 2014

Hey Nick, for those who are unaware would you care to introduce yourself?

Hey Everyone! My Name is Nicholas Slater and I am a designer based in the SF Bay Area. Originally I'm from upstate New York from a small town called Sodus, it is just outside of Rochester. Currently, I am holding a position as a Designer at Palantir located in Palo Alto, CA.

How is it working & living in Silicon Valley? That must be pretty cool!

Never in a million years would I have thought I would be working and living in Silicon Valley. It is an honor to work for a company that encourages, supports, and allows me to express my creativity as a Designer. Being surrounded by great people that are on my team and all of the individuals at Palantir is a priceless opportunity. To explain my feelings in one word about working in Silicon Valley is... sick!

So much of your work is hand drawn. Can you talk us briefly through the process of paper to screen?

Most of the time I start my projects by researching first. To fully understand a product, client, projects, etc. I need to know as much as possible about the project. Ask questions...a lot of questions. The more I know the better the sketching process will be. I usually try to keep a sketchbook on hand but if there is an instance where I forget my book, I have a drawer of post-it notes, recycled paper, even napkins that I can sketch on. (I actually keep all of my past sketches, doodles, and notes in a drawer at home to reflect on later.)
Once, I have a general idea I jump into illustrator and hammer away, sketch some more, ask more questions...and never forget to take a break. I always say Design is a lifestyle, not a career. Some people forget that we are not creative machines. So taking a break is crucial... you need to rest to recharge your battery... simply playing video games, reading, cooking or whatever gives you time to gather that precious energy to make some killer designs.
After recharging I go back into the process on illustrator and put the finishing touches on the design. Having fresh eyes on a project can be the designers best tool.

Are all your clients very open when it comes to your style of work or do they need a bit of talking round?

That is funny... that particular shot was actually just for fun. To be honest most of the time the clients I have worked with have generally been open. Having said that...I personally believe as a Designer that yes I do have certain taste and a style but, I do not feel that a client should be privileged that I am doing work for them.Remember they are the ones that are paying you. My job is to keep them on course, develop a sound project that fully represents their needs and make suggestions of what is best suited to what they need. I think communication is important in the early stages of developing a project. The more you're on the same page with the client the better the progress will go.

What has been your favourite project you've worked on this year?

I like to think that each project is unique, fun and special to me. If I had to pick one then it would be the The Salvation Army WarDrobe project. There is something truly special about working on a project that is for a good cause. Being apart of something like that is truly a honor!

When starting a new project what is the first thing you do?

I research for hours, make mood boards, doodle and make notes. Once I am done with research then I jot down a list of ideas and sketch away.

Where do you go for inspiration when starting a new piece of work?

I find inspiration in a lot of things, it can be as simple as when I'm eating breakfast and reading my daily blogs. Which can lead to an idea that will come out of nowhere and rain down on me like an asteroid of inspiration. Creativity is spontaneous, so keeping an open mind can really help out. If I feel my creative well is running low I like to check out some of my favorite designers on dribbble, (killer site), We Love Typography (another killer site) , Designspiration, FFFFound, Pinterest and many more.

Designers you would recommend checking out?

There are so many that I can suggest, so I am going to name a just a few... Rogie King, Glenn Thomas, Collin Roe-Raymond (one of my co-workers), Sergey Shapiro, Claire Coullon ( Not only is she an amazing designer but, one of the most kindest people out there... She is a must follow.) Emir Ayouni, Mike Brunner, Paul Saksin, Daryl Ginn, Michael Spitz, Deividas Bielskis, Simon Alander, Mike Bruner and many more.

Design essentials? (e.g. hardware, software)

A pencil, dot paper and coffee.

Every worked/want to work in London? What do you think of the scene over here?

I haven't worked in London yet... but I have freelanced for a few companies in the UK and would love to visit someday soon! I have always wanted to check out the countryside of the UK and drink a real Black & Tan with fish and chips!

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