Tobias van Schneider is a multi-disciplinary German designer, maker, and creator of useful, curious and beautiful things. He was originally born in Germany and raised in Austria, and now residing and working in New York City.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) October 31, 2018
He is the co-founder of Semplice, a portfolio system for designers and community of world-leading designers who represent brands such as HUGO, BBDO, Tumbler, Disney, and Apple to name a few. He writes about productivity and portfolio building on his blog, DESK. So where does it all start for Tobias? Well, he dropped out of high school at the tender age of 15 with big dreams of becoming a software engineer. After realising he, quite frankly, sucked at it, he began teaching himself design at the age of 16.
He paid his dues and worked really hard and founded his own design company. He is also a speaker and mentor. Since opening up his own design studio he has had the honor of working with the like of Red Bull, Google, NASA, BMW, Wacom, Sony, Fantasy Interactive, Stinkdigital, Toyota, Ralph Lauren and Bwin to name a few. Previously Tobias served as art director and the lead product designer at Spotify in New York.
Tobias has been honored with the net magazine designer of the year and Awwwards Art Director of the year awards. He currently serves as a member of AIGA NYC board of directors and a supporter, advisor, and mentor to numerous programs around the world.
The Logo Creative – Hi Tobias it’s nice to have you taking part I know our reader will love reading your insights, and take away a lot of value from it.
Tobias van Schneider – Happy to participate, sounds interesting and you’ve got an awesome lineup, Andrew.
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Tobias van Schneider – When it comes to my career, there never was a specific turning point. Most of my decisions early on I made out of necessity. I originally started an apprenticeship as a software engineer, which led me to learn more about design. After I applied to design university but failed to get accepted, I opened my own small design studio and tried to keep paying my bills with little design jobs. Of course, there are more details to the story, but this is the short summary.
That was really the beginning of it all. One project led to the next which led to the next and eventually brought me to where I am today. My turning point was necessity.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Tobias van Schneider – My day is completely random and seemingly boring if you’d actually follow me around. I usually sleep in and work very late into the night, as I enjoy the quiet of the nighttime. My mornings/noons are usually spent doing emails and admin work (calls, catching up with my team) and then at night I find some time to do creative work.
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Tobias van Schneider – Definitely a night owl. No emails, no calls, no instant messaging, everyone is sleeping and it’s just me and my thoughts. Similar to the morning person, the night owl values alone time to get creative work done. It’s the only time in the day when no one bothers me and distractions are at a minimum.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Tobias van Schneider – It was likely a logo for a Counter-Strike clan because that’s all I did when I first began designing. I doubt it was anything special, otherwise I would clearly remember. I did about 20 logos for Counter-Strike clans and other gaming guilds back then.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logo you have designed?
Tobias van Schneider – As a designer, I’m never happy and it would be almost impossible to settle on a favorite logo I designed. Especially since it’s my own work that I’m never really fully pleased with.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logos of all time?
Tobias van Schneider – This is a difficult one as there are so many great logos out there. But trying to not get too distracted by the powerful brands, one of my most favorite logomarks is probably Sony Vaio. It’s just one of those logos I wish I’d done myself. I also love the Mercedes Benz and Playboy logos. Both are simple and recognizable in an instant around the globe.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Tobias van Schneider – In theory, it’s pretty simple, but the execution takes time.
A logo can be anything as it only serves as a vessel for the meaning we apply to it later on. So when it comes to designing a logomark, there are essentially two different sides to it:
The first side is how well I can extract an idea out of the company I’m designing for, then sell it back to them while injecting a little piece of meaning into it. The process here is mainly about selling the logo to my client. It’s not about what the logo is, how it looks or anything else. All that matters is that I start the first page of a story and convince my client that this is the right story to believe in.
The second side to a great logo are the attributes of the design itself, simplicity being one of the key components. The mark should be simple enough to be able to take on the meaning of a brand without adding too much clutter or detail. Its simplicity allows it to be quickly recognizable, which brings me to functionality. A logo will be used by many people besides myself, so I must build functionality into a logomark will prevent it from being misused. And lastly, relevancy. A great logo should reflect the time it lives in.
In my process of designing a logo, these are the things I consider. How I ultimately get there doesn’t matter – I could sketch it, draw it on the computer, mold it out of clay, whatever it may be.
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Tobias van Schneider – I admire brands that are consistent in their messaging over a long period of time. In my own experience, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain consistency while making it appear effortless. Brands like Nike, Apple, IKEA or RedBull are mentioned a lot in this context because it is those brands that set an inspiring example at scale.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Tobias van Schneider – One or two months on average.
The Logo Creative – What are your recommended design books to read?
Tobias van Schneider – Anything that has nothing to do with design is the best thing you can read as a designer. Broaden your horizon. Read about history, arts and whatever you’re interested in. Especially as logo designers, we draw so much inspiration from our world around us. Reading about everything outside of design helps us develop our visual reference database, rather than relying on ideas from other designers.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
Tobias van Schneider – I mostly use all apps within the Creative Suite by Adobe. Most commonly Photoshop and Illustrator.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Tobias van Schneider – Whatever gets the job done and fits a certain company or brand. If I had a favorite style I’d be a bad identity designer.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Tobias van Schneider – Music is probably my biggest inspiration. I actually share my personal mixtapes every now and then right here.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Tobias van Schneider – I love riding my bike, skateboarding, playing computer games, reading books or learning new skills such as building my own custom sneakers. Friends who know me would tell you that I certainly know how to keep myself busy (:
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Tobias van Schneider – The biggest challenges are always human relationships and communication, rarely anything else.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job as a designer?
Tobias van Schneider – This really changes depending on the project, but I’d say the best part of my job is designing in solitude, being alone with my craft and focusing on just that. The worst part, but arguably also the most important, is navigating politics and trying to settle things with stakeholders. To be a well-rounded designer you want to be good at both.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Tobias van Schneider – Always my mother.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite graphic designer and why?
Tobias van Schneider – The people I’m inspired by change all the time and rarely are they other graphic designers. Not that there aren’t any good ones, there are many. But I personally get inspired by people outside of my field, ranging from artists, fashion designers, architects and people within finance or business.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Tobias van Schneider – Graphic design is whatever you make of it.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Tobias van Schneider – So much to talk about here. I actually wrote an article about this in detail – my story of becoming a designer. You can read it here.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Tobias van Schneider – To keep going exactly as I did. Everyone is figuring it out as they go and we have to make our own experiences, even if that means repeating something someone else already went through.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Tobias van Schneider – That no one owes me anything. That I have to work hard and prove myself.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Tobias van Schneider – Nobody owes you anything, You have to work hard and prove yourself!
Also published on Medium.