Looking for your portfolio to make a splash in time for summer? Visual cloud storage startup Playbook.com wants to help, so they sat down with Flaticons.co owner and creator Zach Roszczewski, an icon designer behind the famous iconography of Airbnb, Facebook, Lululemon, Bose, and numerous tech startups, to see what he can share about his work.
And it gets better: this July, Playbook.com will be giving away 1,200 of Roszczewski’s famous iOS Edge Line icons ($50 value) to the first 1,000 who sign up for early access to Playbook. Become one of the first to experience how easy it is to store and transfer icon and design files.
This post was written and sponsored by Playbook.com — a visual cloud storage platform for designers.
You’re famous, but tell us more about you (including how you got started)!
Hello everyone, and thank you to the fine folks at Playbook for the kind introduction. I currently run a freelance design studio in the coastal town of Encinitas, California. I specialize in creating icon and illustration systems that are custom-crafted to complement the client’s brand. Aside from work, I get inspired by spending time in nature. You can find me surfing most mornings somewhere in North County, San Diego.
I grew up in rural Michigan in a home built by my father on seven acres. I was constantly creating as a young child with my three brothers. I was inspired by my dad who loved to paint and really supported our love for creating. We would draw for hours, build epic Lego creations, and film stop motion animations for fun.
I further pushed my love for creating by obtaining my bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a graphic design concentration at Central Michigan University in 2012. That’s where my passion for illustrative design blossomed.
Luckily, six months after graduating, I was offered my dream job at a startup design studio in Santa Cruz, California to work as a web designer/illustrator for Octopus Creative. It was an epic opportunity that taught me all of the inner workings of running a design studio along with building out beautiful UI projects for clients like Google and other tech giants in the Bay Area. This is where I realized my passion for icon and illustration design within the apps and websites that we were building.
In 2014, I headed south to pursue my dream of running my own design studio with a sole focus on crafting premium icons and illustrations. With the extra time on my hands as a freelancer, I realized a need for consistent and premium icon sets that could be easily accessible for all. That’s where months of long nights and thousands of icons later—Flaticons.co was born. Creating all the icon sets for my “side hustle” really helped jumpstart my icon design niche, hone in on my skills, and perfect my craft.
I am now in year seven of running my own design studio and have had the opportunity to work with amazing clients such as Airbnb, GoPro, Bose, and Lululemon. I am grateful to be able to spread joy through design and add delight into their everyday experiences. I am more inspired than ever and am always searching for new ways to push the boundaries in contemporary design.
How many teams or companies have you worked with? Which ones were most memorable?
I have had the opportunity to work with over 400 different companies of all shapes and sizes over the past seven years.
Airbnb was my very first large client that helped get my name on the map. They were just about to launch their new brand, and they wanted icons that would compliment the new brand mark. Once I shared to the world the icon system I created for them, many other tech businesses followed suit and reached out to have their icon systems redesigned to be custom-crafted for their brand.
Another memorable project was the icon system created for Turbotax. Every year they run major Super Bowl commercials because the game is right at the height of tax season. I was watching the game with friends and their commercial popped up. All of a sudden I was greeted with a vision of the icons I had created making their first debut on the big screen. It was only for a few seconds, but it definitely made my dad proud and that’s all I can ask for.
What guidance would you give to the in-house designer on how to work with freelancers?
I think setting them up for a seamless transition into the project is important. There needs to be a concise brief that illustrates the vibe of the brand, the direction they are heading, and the tasks they are looking to achieve. Google Docs work perfectly for this.
When it comes to the style, give just enough guidance to show them the way you are headed, but not too much to where there isn’t any creative freedom to explore from a different perspective. A mood board works great for this to get a general range of the vibe you are working towards.
Most importantly, keep the project fun and uncomplicated to allow the creator to flourish. When the freelancer is stoked and excited for the work, that’s when the best stuff is created.
For young designers who want to be like you, what advice would you give to them? (Any secret sauce?)
My advice would be to find which part of the design world excites you most and focus in on that direction. Create fun projects on the side when you’re starting out that are in that realm to help hone your craft.
The more work you create in that zone, the more clients who are attracted to that type of work will come to you. Sounds obvious, but many designers try to do it all and get lost amid the surging number of creators out there. If you focus in one direction and show that you are a specialist in your craft, clients or employers will view you as an expert and pay you accordingly.
In the end, your best work will come when you are working on what you enjoy. So find it and build it, and then they will come. (The clients, that is). So enjoy the process and remember that fun is number one! ■