This week Iconpaper has had the pleasure to interview a young and exciting artist. His name is…….. Asher Abbasi, who already has enough skills to make most of us jealous of his talents. Enjoy this interview!
Welcome to Iconpaper Asher. Would you please introduce yourself to our Iconpaper followers?
Hi Gert Jan. I am Asher Abbasi from a small town of Pakistan. I am 20 and studying 3rd year of Electrical Engineering. I am a freelancer and I love to design icons.
Where did you learn your skills? Where do your creative instincts come from?
I am self-taught and I have learned everything about designing from web. As a teenager, I was never interested in designing. I don’t know why I started to learn Photoshop, may be because photo-manipulation was a cool technique to impress friends. After using Window’s default theme for years, I decided to change its appearance and that’s when I got familiar with customization. Though I discovered a lot of things there, icons attracted me the most. When I developed my Photoshop skills, I decided to make my own icons and that’s how it all began.
Once you dive into designing, ideas and creativity will travel with you as long as you are keen to learn. While browsing, I come across different people with incredible creativity. I attribute their ideas to the amount of time they have given to art and the eagerness to learn something new.
Can you give us an insight into a typical day in the life of Asher Abbasi?
My day kicks off with the end of a short sleep. Following a quick bath, I take breakfast and head for campus; spend 3-5 tedious hours there then return home for a nap. After recovering, it’s just me and my PC. Movies, music, browsing and Photoshop keep me away from social contacts and my dear bed. I finally collapse to slumber when my eyes and body give up.
Altough Iconpaper is a website dedicated to Mac, iPhone and iPad customization, I really wanna know the answer to my next question from you as a designer. Are you a Mac or a PC and of course why?
I am PC. I had been using Windows XP for years but it was really unstable and annoying. So, I upgraded my PC and tried Windows 7. Till now, it’s working brilliantly; a thousand times better and more stable than its predecessor. I have heard a lot about Mac and I do want to try the magic OS but Apple’s product are more like “Unobtanium” in my region. It’s not easy to get a Mac here, lack of awareness may be ascribed as one of the reason. I’ll have to make do with my PC for now and I find no reason to regret it.
What design tools do you use? Which tools would you suggest to fellow designers?
I use Photoshop for creating icons and for doing other design related stuff. Though Photoshop is considered to be a versatile tool for many designers, it has it’s limits. It’s easy to make isometric icons in Photoshop but attempt to achieve a unique perspective can be quite a problem. A basic knowledge of both Illustrator and Cinema4D will assist in making better icons.
During my time of designing, I’ve learned that besides Photoshop, there are a number of affordable alternatives for designers in general and for iconists in particular. I’ve seen Iconka making brilliant icons in Xara Xtreme alone; am familiar with another iconist who uses Corel Draw. The quality of work doesn’t solely depend upon the software, it depends greatly upon one’s understanding and experience in design industry. Photoshop is definitely the best option for starters but the story doesn’t end there.
Where do you get your inspiration from or go for inspiration? And how do you deal with creative blocks?
Nature, leading designers and technology inspire me a lot. I believe creativity in any field comes with your understanding and knowledge. Development in skills will surely fuel one’s creativity. Without proper skills and knowledge, creativity will lose it’s meaning. I try continuously to improve my skills, let it be through a set of hundred small icons or through a single large icon, for my creativity to find a better expression.
I saw that you’re currently working on a sticker style icon set? How did you come to the style you are using in that set and when it will be ready for release?
I was contacted by a team-member of mahalo.com. They asked me to make 39 badges(icons) for their site but before choosing me for the job, they wanted to evaluate the quality of my work. They needed all the icons in sticker style and asked me to make two samples initially. The style was quite new for me but I gave it my best shot. Eventually, from twenty designers, I was selected by the team and was provided with the list of all required icons with suggested metaphors. The list was quite a surprise and not a good one at that. Metaphors like eagle,shaking hands,dog, etc. were about to endow me nightmares for sometime. Anyhow, I managed to complete all the icons within two-week deadline.
Since this is a commercial work, I am not sure if the icons will be available for download. I’ll confirm it though.
What’s your typical design process when designing an icon or icon set? And what makes a good icon or icon set in your opinion?
I’d prefer an icon to go through four steps to reach it’s completion; drawing, rendering, styling and finalizing. I am not a good drawer and pretty new to rendering but I am willing to improve myself in those areas.
For concluding an icon, I consider it’s quality, creativity and uniqueness. For me, quality encompasses selection of colors, proper shading and optimal position of light source. The other two aspects are self-defining.
For an icon set, I’d add consistency to the list. I find an icon set more challenging to design than a single icon. You’d never want to dispose an icon, you need to give it proper consideration so that it appears to be a part of the whole.
How long do you spend on average creating an icon? What are the factors that contribute to how long you spend creating an icon or icon set?
I can not estimate the completion time before an icon is specified. It depends mainly upon the size of the icon and the metaphor you select for it. Designing a quality chat bubble in 512×512 canvas will hardly take an hour or two while a camera will take a greater chunk of time, no matter what size you choose. The time also depends upon the preferred style, perspective and whether the icon is symmetric or not.
Quick Fire Five:
• Dribbble or Forrst? …..Dribbble
• Comic Sans, Love it or hate it? …..Hate it
• Hand drawn or Digital? …..Hand drawn
• Facebook or Twitter? …..Twitter any day
• Design for Life or Design for Pleasure? …..Design for both
I follow you for quite a while and for me it’s always a pleasure to have a look at your work. What do you think is your best work (so far) and why?
As far as icon sets are concerned, I’d consider “Ginux” to be my best attempt for creating a complete set based on Tango style. The special thing about the set is it’s consistency and range of icons. I don’t know how I managed to pull that a year ago. From singles, I’d pick “Socket” solely because of it’s subtlety.
Since you’ve been following me, you must be familiar with “Pixel Pulp” a set of 100 32px icons yet to be released. I conclude it to be my best work on pixel level.
What are your plans for the near future and where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Well, I keep asking the same question from myself. Before designing, I was fascinated by engineering. Now, designing has become my passion; I can’t detach it from myself at all. But in order to continue my life, I need to earn too. Following 2-3 years will help me to decide which field to choose. If I find designing a good option of earning while improving myself in the field then I’ll stick to it. Otherwise, engineering will be the inevitable choice.
Can you tell us who your favorite designer is and please tell us what’s so special about him/her?
Whenever I stumble upon the words ‘favorite designer’ three names spring to my mind fighting for the top spot; Eugen Buzuk(icondrawer), Everaldo Coelho and Iconka. All of them show perfection in their unique style. Their work is not just a rich source of inspiration but it also provides new designers with a subject to study. One can learn a lot just by observing their icons.
Pixel-mixer is the only female candidate who shows competetive quality and pixel-perfection in all of her icons. No wonder, she’s Russian and I am a big fan of her.
Please tell us what’s the last song you’ve listened to, the last movie you’ve watched and last videogame you’ve played or we should listen, watch or play and do you have any good tips for us?
I am listening continuously to “Prayer” by “Disturbed”. The last good movie I watched was “Joint Security Area” from Korean film industry, would recommend anyone who has grown sick of hollywood movies. The game I played was a PC/Mac exclusive entitled “Neverwinter Nights 2 “, highly recommended for RTS and RPG enthusiasts.
Have you done any commercial work already? If so, how was the experience? If not, would you (like to) do commercial work?
Yes, I’ve done couple of commercial works, “Alcohol Icons” being the first in the list. I was assigned the job about two years ago with minimum designing experience. The client wanted icons for their software, Alcohol 120%. I am really glad I was able to do a commercial job at the initial stage of designing.
Commercial work is not only a source of income but it offers a chance to do something different. I gained a lot of experience and a better chance to evaluate myself during all the commercial jobs I’ve done so far.
Design is a vast field which covers a number of subjects. Choose what you think is best for you and do what you think you can do best. Start your career with a strong determination and don’t let it crumble against depression. Understand the difference between inspiration and imitation. Do everyhting for pleasure, not for treasure.
Big thank you to Asher for taking his time out in making this interview possible. On deviantART you can find more work of Asher.