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Reagan Ray is the lead designer and resident illustrator for Paravel.

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Interview

Greg Lutze

June 27, 2011

Tell us about your background. How did you get started?

I started designing professionally in the dot.com bomb era. I graduated with a degree in Marketing but had some web skills (aka I read a book about the internet) and a hook-up by a friend who worked at a company creating educational DVDs, websites and videos. I had no idea what I was doing. Apparently, neither did the company as nine months after I started they folded.

From there I worked at Relevant Magazine, Asterik Studios, Wonderful Union, XBOX and BKWLD before starting Must Warn Others with family (sister Christina & wife Gabrielle) and friends (Jordan Butcher & Colin Day.)

Between Relevant, Asterik Studios, BKWLD and the rest, it’s clear you’ve had the opportunity to work with some highly talented people and in a variety of environments. How has that experience prepared you for opening your own agency?

It’s true- I’ve been blessed to work with some talented people! I learned a lot from working with Demetre Arges at Asterik Studios and Wonderful Union. He’s the Creative Director at Digital Kitchen in Seattle now, but I worked with him for quite a few years at Asterik Studio and Wonderful Union. He’s one of the smartest guys I know.

From the amazing Clark Bros. to the talented Mr. Danny Jones and Michael Madrid to all the guys at BKWLD, it’s been an amazing ride. There’s just too many great people I could list- I’ve been very fortunate.

Opening my own shop has definitely been a process- I wouldn’t have been prepared to do it even four years ago. Now that I think about it, I wasn’t prepared to start when I did. I guess that’s the beauty of not knowing- you do things you wouldn’t do if you knew better.

I’ve learned its one thing to be able to create and design, but its an altogether different thing to run the business side of things- the taxes, the finances, the client aspect. Bringing Christina on board to help handle that was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Working in a bunch of different environments revealed to me what I wanted in my own shop. I’ve learned that I never want to run a large shop, that clients who care about craft are always better than those that don’t (regardless the name or the budget), that working with people who you can share a coffee or a beer with is always preferable, and that no award, title, project, tweet or recognition will ever be better than living a balanced and beautiful life.

Which project would you consider to be your first big “gig” or “break”?

Ha, its probably gotta be the Puddle of Mudd website while at Asterik Studio. At the time I was like, “Man, we’ve hit it big time.” I think that was 2002-ish.

Wow, now that takes us back. Let’s talk about more of your recent work. What are some of your favorite projects from the past year?

My perspective on design has changed over time. I’m much more influenced by minimalism. Where I used to look for opportunities to add textures or “break the grid,” I now design to make it as clean and simple as possible. I’d rather the design or illustration take a back seat to the message its trying to communicate.

I’m more intrigued by business and am currently working on a few different start-ups: Visual Supply Co., a resource for photographers that includes conferences, websites, branding and other photography tools. Our first workshop takes place in San Francisco in August, with the launch of the other products soon after.

Additionally, I’m illustrating and writing music for a kid cartoon band, called The Rizers. We’ll be releasing the second album this summer. We’re working on a bunch of cartoon videos now, and hope to start releasing those by the end of the year.

We’re also launching a Must Warn Others store late fall with some goods we’ve been making over the past year.

Here are a few projects I’ve completed recently:

Kondoh / Founded by photographer John Keatley and MIR water bottles owner Bryan Papé, Kondoh is a business creating bags and iPad/iPhone cases with a large % of profits benefitting Liberia. We’re responsible for the website design, print & sales collateral and branding.

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Various Websites / Website design with/for the Seattle agency WINTR (Dev by Typeoneerror), photographers Tiffany Brown (Dev by The Molitor) and John Keatley (Dev by Typeoneerror) and Bicycle Adventures (Dev by Pivot & Levy), via the Seattle agency Egg.

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Honor the Emperor / Album design and songwriting for Honor the Emperor, via Come & Live! Records and Mars Hill Church.

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Flour / Branding, Stationery & Website design for the New York shop Flour.

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Redemption Church / Branding and Style Guide for Redemption Church, via the Phoenix agency Changegoat.

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Fast Company / Icon illustration for the magazine Fast Company, via the NYC agency Ready, Set, Rocket.

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Must Warn Others Summer Promo / We sent out a set of postcards with coffee cups, coffee and feather necklaces, just for fun.

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Let’s talk specifics. What are your 3 favorite typefaces? If you could add/remove any feature from Photoshop what would it be? What music do you listen to when working?

3 Favorite Typefaces: Gotham, DIN, Interstate.

My friend/ former co-worker Shelby White inspired me to refine my font library. Here’s where I ended up: Akzidenz Grotesk, Alte Haas Grotesk, Arial, Avant Garde, Bodoni, Caslon Pro, Didot, DIN, Farnham, Franklin Gothic, Futura, Garamond Pro, Georgia, Gotham, Goudy Old Style, Helvetica Neue, Hoefler Text, Interstate, Knockout, Lubalin Graph, Mercury G4, Neutra, Proxima Nova, Sorts Mill Goudy, Trade Gothic, United, Univers, and VAG Rounded.

Add/Remove Photoshop: Add better integration with vectors. Remove pretty much anything in the Filter drop-down.

Music I listen to when I’m working: I like pretty much everything. I have no taste in music, whether good or bad.

Hip Hop: Lecrae, Aesop Rock, Tedashii, Hail Mary Mallon, El Producto, Sage Francis, Listener, Lupe Fiasco, B.O.B.

Metalcore: August Burns Red. And then some more August Burns Red.

Indie/Cred: Local Natives, Bon Iver, Alexandre Desplat, Limp Bizkit, Manchester Orchestra, The Black Keys, R. Kelly, mewithoutYou

Old Stuff: A lot of folk/bluegrass & cheap 25 cent records from Goodwill.

Nostalgia: Smashing Pumpkins, The Refused, Rage Against the Machine, At The Drive-In, PM Dawn

Top Pop: I’m a sucker for Top 40 Radio Pop. Against my better judgement I love pretty much all of it. The party don’t start till Ke$ha comes on!

Describe your work day (hours & rituals you keep) and your work environment (how your workstation is set up & what your office is like).

I have a 6am alarm clock in the form of my 1 year old daughter, so I start the day pretty early. I try to get some form of exercise in- hike, swim, bike, TRX. I like to dress semi-classy as it helps me stay focused and feel like I’m ready to take care of business.

I’ve tried hard to limit my work day to 8 hours. While I want to create the best work possible, its more important for me to be a good husband and dad and turn off the computer/smartphone/iPad/Twitter/etc. It’s too easy to get stuck in this fake digital world where Twitter followers and email replies become all-consuming and addicting. It’s been a challenge and a goal I don’t always meet.

Our cozy office is filled with memories from my life. People generally think its just random old stuff, but everything is either mementos I’ve saved or things I’ve inherited from my family. Here’s some pics:

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Show us an image of the most inspiring thing you’ve seen this week.

I don’t have a picture of it, but the most inspiring thing I’ve seen this week is the sheer joy and amazement of my daughter discovering her shadow. So instead, here’s a picture of the little one taking Qbert out for a walk. (Image by Sean Flanigan)

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Thank you for your time Greg, it’s been great!

You bet. Thanks so much. I love what you’ve got going with Method & Craft!

Greg Lutze's Work
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