Interview with Umar Irshad

Written by Gert Jan in Interviews

Today it’s time to make a fresh start with the interviews. I’m happy to introduce to you Umar Irshad with whom I had an interview this week. He’s a young and great designer from Pakistan. Let his work and words inspire you!



Welcome to Iconpaper Umar. Would you please introduce yourself to our Iconpaper followers?

Hello, I’m Umar Irshad. Turned 23 in May. I was born and raised in Hafr-al-Batin, a town in Saudi Arabia and currently living in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Currently taking some time off of my studies working as a freelancer. Besides designing love playing games and watching movies and TV shows.


Where did you learn your skills? Where do your creative instincts come from?

Back in 2004 or so I used to love animations, so I started learning Adobe Flash. Worked on it for couple of years, also made some small games like track racing, snake and also made a clone of old Nokia game called Rapid Roll. But as the time passed I started losing interest in it and eventually I dropped it. I also loved customizing my desktop a lot. Later I started learning Photoshop to make my own wallpapers according to my liking and later on I started expanding my use of Photoshop and got into icon designing with my first icon pack “32px Mantra”.



Can you give us an insight into a typical day in the life of Umar Irshad?

First thing I do after getting up is checking my emails and going through my stacked up RSS feeds. After having a breakfast, I start working on my ongoing projects and watch movie or TV show alongside to keep myself motivated. I take a break during lunch time and head outside to hang out with friends afterwards. I get back home at night and after having dinner I resume my designing work. And get to sleep late at night.


Although 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?

Well, I used to be a PC user which was good but over the years experience with windows only lead me to disasters. Finally I decided to move to Mac, so I bought an iMac. It’s been 1 year now since I bought my first Mac and I believe Mac, as an OS, is easy to organize, has a great interface, bug free and most important of all, very fast. The only thing I miss is PC gaming experience :D


What design tools do you use and can you explain your choice? Which tools would you suggest to fellow designers?

I primarily use Adobe Photoshop for my work, but am also aware of the usage of Adobe Illustrator. I really hope to start making use of my Wacom Bamboo. Well I would definitely recommend Adobe Photoshop, but it’s  all about how well you understand the tool/functions. I have seen some designers who make the best out of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Fireworks.

Where do you get your inspiration from or go for inspiration? And how do you deal with creative blocks?

Well for inspiration I usually surf around Dribbble, or incase I need anything specific, I just Google it out. Creative blocks usually occur when I am exhausted due to working a lot, so all I do is get out, hang out with friends clear my head and start the work again.



What are your favorite online design resources?

Besides Iconpaper, I hardly look anywhere. If I need anything I make it myself, that’s the reason I started Icon Designing in the first place. :)

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?

Process varies in size. If it’s a small icon I am working on, I usually just need the name and I design it. But when it comes to large sized icons, I start off with a sketch then make shapes in Adobe Photoshop based on those sketches and then visual effects.

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?

A small sized icon usually takes 15-30 mins depending on the details, but when it comes to larger icons the process varies, so it usually takes 3-5 hrs.



What other things do you do besides designing icons?

Besides  icons, I also do UI and Web Designing. I have worked on a couple of iPhone apps and currently am working on an Android app a website design.

Most designers have unusual quirks. For instance I find the best collaborator is myself and often talk to myself to brainstorm ideas and solutions. What are your quirks?

Well, I am trying hard to think of one, but I don’t have any. :P Though I usually talk to different designer friends and seek their opinion but that’s usually after I’m done with all I have got.


Quick Fire Five:

• Forrst or Dribbble? Dribbble

• Comic Sans, Love it or hate it? Hate it

• Hand drawn or Digital? Digital

• Facebook or Twitter? Twitter

• Design for Life or Design for Pleasure? Both




I follow you for quite some time and I think your work has become great and inspiring. What do you think is your best work (so far) and why?

Well there are many personal works I love, some of them are the ones I can’t speak/show of yet but to mention any, I especially loved the Pro Glyph icon set I did for DesignMoo.


What are your plans for the near future and where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

5 years is a long time to think of :P , but jokes apart I see myself broadening my skills to other things like illustration, 3D. I also see myself as the owner of a designing and development company and hopefully a very successful one. :P



Can you tell us who your favorite designer is and please tell us what’s so special about him/her?

Well that’s a tough question, the first those hit my mind are Zulal Ahmed , Pedja Rusic , Prekesh Chavda and Nikolay Verin .


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?

Last song I heard and love is Eminem’s Space Bound. I recently watched Will Smith’s old movie “The Pursuit of Happiness” recommended to everyone. I haven’t played any new game recently but usually play COD Black Ops (Multiplayer with friends) on PS3, also I did play NFS Hot Pursuit and loved the Cop mode in it. Totally recommended.


Do you have experience with commercial projects and if so can you tell us something about your experience with these kind of projects?

I had been working on commercial projects for a year or so, but my most recent commercial project is an icon/logo for a Facebook Places based app called StupidMap. I’m also working on several other commercial projects but I am not yet allowed to speak of them.


Thanks again for providing Iconpaper with the opportunity to interview you. Can you at last share some pearls of wisdom for up and coming designers in the field.

It was a great pleasure getting interviewed by Iconpaper. Well, I myself am in learning stages but all I got to say is keep on practicing as much as you can and maximum attention to keeping pixels perfect ;)



A big thank you to Umar for taking his time out in making this interview possible. On deviantART and Dribbble you can find more work of Umar. And of course don’t forget to visit his website.


  1. Yaro says:

    Nice interview, I liked it. He’s quite good!

  2. zulal ahmad says:

    great interview Umar and good luck with your future company :D

  3. Hey, you used to write fantastic, but the last several posts have been kinda boring I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little out of track! come on!.

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