For our second installment of Design Diet, our new column where we talk to the design obsessed and feed off what inspires them, we hear from Luis Gonzalez, Senior Brand Designer at InVision. As part of our fully-distributed company, he designs from his home office in St. Petersburg, Florida. We asked him what inspires him and keeps him motivated while he works remotely—here’s what he had to say.
Luis, Erica, Leo, and Maple walk by the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
My wife Erica and I moved to St. Petersburg from New York City a year ago. Since then, I’ve become a dad to our son Leo. Now that we have a newborn, we go for walks with him and our dog Maple in the mornings and the evenings to bookend our days. From our house, we do a quick two miles, walking to the Tampa Bay waterfront and past the Salvador Dalí Museum. (Before we moved, we’d walk the Brooklyn Bridge waterfront; living near the water has always made us feel grounded, especially since I grew up in Puerto Rico.)
Right now, the museum’s pretty secluded with all the social distancing happening. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we’d also stop by Erica’s store Pete’s General for their amazing homemade vegan bagels and sandwiches. I love to get the Original Pete—everything bagel, cream cheese, lox, tomato, and capers. Their bagels are on par, if not better, than New York bagels, I swear. Then we like to hit our other favorite spot in town, Bandit Coffee Co., which is owned by our best friends. Since moving here, we’ve gone caffeine-free: Erica will get tea and I’ll get the Golden Milk Latte that’s made with turmeric and cinnamon.
When I took time off for paternity leave, I looked at my design practice and at Leo and felt like this was a great time for me to re-energize my excitement around design by making something for my son. I started a project where I design a poster a day that documents Leo’s “little” moments, the moments Erica and I might forget about as he gets older. During the day, when I see something that’s significant, I doodle a quick idea and write out what happened in my sketchbook.
The posters are inspired by my background in traditional graphic design and Swiss and minimalist-style design, specifically, the designer Michael Bierut. I also pull inspiration from The Brand Identity, Grafik Feed, and Morrre.dsgn on Instagram and curate the images I like into mood boards. I try not to make my designs too grandiose; having this structure has helped me to loosen up any self-imposed guidelines I may have had and open up the sandbox a bit more. I can have a day’s design that I don’t like and be ok with it because it’s part of the bigger project and not a standalone piece. I’m currently on day 58. Once Leo turns one year old (308 more posters to go! An extra day because of Leap Year), I’d like to turn the series into a book. This is a gift to him, and something that he’ll have for the rest of his life.
After I first visited NYC, I knew I needed to live there once I’d finished college. I’m lucky I got to experience it, but after seven years of the daily grind you realize that NYC is an anxious and exhausting place. In my last two years there I started to feel some anxiety in my day-to-day life. I researched tips to help out and got into meditation for a bit. It was in looking up panic attacks that I came across Dan Harris and found comfort in hearing his story. I turned to his podcasts and books for support. My Wednesdays alway start with the newest episodes, and though I don’t relate to every single one, there are always valuable lessons to pick up on that help me reframe my perspective. From listening to Harris and reading his books, I realized that it’s ok to push past the stigma; they gave me the courage to seek out a therapist who I’ve been working on an off with for a couple of years for my OCD. It’s actually made me want to do my own podcast to talk about mental health issues among everyday people who work in design, advertising, and tech. I highly recommend checking out the podcast, especially during these tough times as they are tailored to deal with Covid-19. The two that I would recommend starting out with are How to Actually Get Work Done at Home and How to Handle Coronavirus Anxiety.
I just started listening to this book and so far it’s great. It’s all about building your personal rhythm in generating creative ideas. In today’s world, you need to come up with great ideas all the time. That in itself can cause burnout, fatigue, and create bad habits in your workflow—especially when working from home. The one concept that’s resonated with me right now is “creativity killers,” one of those being what he calls “the ping.” That’s that feeling in our gut, the urge to leave what we’re presently focusing on and check emails, Slack, social media, or anything else really. As our options grow, the pull becomes stronger. Rather than being present, you go off and are no longer fully in one place. We can be in a state of perpetual distraction. The answer isn’t getting rid of technology, but setting our own boundaries in the use of it all to allow for optimal creative flow. That can mean turning devices off, only logging on at certain times, logging out of accounts, or turning off notifications. The book has been great to listen to while being back from paternity leave as I make my way through my daily tasks.
Looking for more ways to stay inspired? Check out our definitive megalist of the best design books, podcasts, movies, and more!
I’m Luis Mark González Jr and this is where I say that I’m an award winning Designer & Art Director. My day job has been taking brands from start ups to house hold names by telling stories and creating designs which inspire and cut through the clutter of the everyday. I’m currently leading brand design at InVision for the past year where we are working on redefining the brand from the ground up. Before all of this I worked in advertising and design. Follow me @luismarkgonzalez.