Tispr Stories: Kevin Doyle is Designing for Connection
Every Friday we check in with a freelancer or small business person who is following their dreams and doing what they love. This week we sat down with Kevin Doyle, a visual and web designer who freelances and works on passion projects in addition to his full-time job.
Here’s what Kevin had to say about collaboration, balance, and going outside of his comfort zone.
Tell us a little about you as a person—what makes Kevin…Kevin?
I think the thing that makes Kevin “Kevin” is that I like to learn and solve problems and I have found a way to make a living doing that in creative ways. I love helping family, friends, and businesses achieve things that I happen to understand just a little bit better than them. I primarily get contacted for website work, but that often expands into other fields. I’ve also recently grown to love meeting with other freelancers for coffee or dinner on a regular basis because there’s nothing better than a fellowship of like-minded individuals.
What made you decide to pursue a freelance career in your free time?
Passion. It sounds silly with how overused that word has become in our time when talking about a career, but my passion keeps me growing and learning new things is just incredible and that's why I pursue visual design as a freelancer.
How you do balance your freelance gigs with a full-time job?
It’s tough to balance my freelance work with my full-time job at times. It also requires me to be honest about my time with not only clients, and the important people around me but also myself. It takes a lot of support from my girlfriend, family and friends and I couldn’t do it without them. Knowing I have their support makes the finished struggle an adventure!
How did you get into visual design?
I got into visual design when I was young. I’ve always loved to draw and craft and growing up with a techie father, he always suggested new ways I could be creative using technology. He’s always encouraged me to try new ways to express myself and I just fell in love with creating designs and even websites at a young age. That evolved from a hobby to a passion to a career with time.
“At the end of the day you’re not just finishing a project, but walking away with fresh experiences and new things learned.”
How long have you been freelancing?
I think that depends on what could be considered freelancing. In the early days of smartphones, I would search the App Store and Google Play (Android Market, at the time) for projects that needed help. I would design a new icon and charge them anywhere from 5-20 dollars via PayPal just because I thought it was neat for someone to use something I designed as their project’s visual identity. I actually got some paying clients this way, and it was so satisfying, I kept designing.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I like making things that I can share with the world. It’s satisfying to go from a problem or an assignment and finding the right thing that the client wants. Getting a client to say “this better than what I could ever imagine” is better than most things in this world.
How do you feel when you’re working, doing what you love?
When I’m doing what I love, I feel just that - love. I feel at peace, happy and sometimes frustrated if things aren’t going my way. But being able to deliver a finished product is a wonderful experience.
What’s it like being in your line of work?
It’s always interesting to see or hear people’s reactions to me being a visual designer. Often times someone who hasn’t worked with, or had any real exposure to the visual or graphic design industry has an idea of it, but can’t really see the whole picture. It goes deeper than just being an “operator of Photoshop” and it’s not about the tools at all. It’s about how you transform a blank canvas into a deliverable and presentable product. If you can’t present your idea, no one will understand it so I think design is a very communication heavy field. With that comes a lot of freedom and a lot of discipline and as long as I find a nice balance between those things, I thrive.
How has freelancing changed your life?
Freelancing has changed my life in many ways. Most will probably instantly focus on the extra income aspect, but to me it’s about the people. I have met and worked with so many wonderful people and grown my network of acquaintances, colleagues and even friends through freelancing.
“Getting a client to say “this better than what I could ever imagine” is better than most things in this world.”
What have you gained from freelancing?
I have learned so many things freelancing. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone socially, professionally and other ways to get a project done. At the end of the day you’re not just finishing a project, but walking away with fresh experiences and new things learned.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to younger you?
I would tell my younger self to start reaching out to other designers in the area a lot sooner than I did. Working with others on bigger projects is so fun and beneficial to a freelancer. There are many roads to the finished product, and seeing others’ workflows and points of views is not just fun but opens your eyes to new ideas.
What’s been your favorite project to work on so far?
My favorite project to work on is Trenta OS hands down. It’s one of my pet projects, and it aims to be a beautiful computer operating systems for creatives likes myself that allows them to make things digitally without having to startup costs of a high end computer and high end software because when you’re just getting started, or you enjoy media as a hobby that is crucial. I want everyone who has even an inkling of interest in design and media creation to have a shot at it.
This interview has been edited for clarity.