I met Armin Vit at Design Ranch, the awesomely hands-on creativity conference I attended earlier this year. Armin and his wife, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, led one of my favorite workshops, “Posters from the Ground Up.” Also in attendance were Armin and Bryony’s two adorable kids, who got crafty right alongside us and even strolled around the room, critiquing our work. In addition to being a designer dad, Armin (with Bryony) runs UnderConsideration, where they not only design, but tirelessly blog via sites like BrandNew and FPO. Originally from Mexico City, Armin and family now live in Austin.
Q&A with designer dad Armin Vit
Tell me briefly about your design business and what kinds of clients you have/what kinds of work you specialize in.
We’ve been in formal business since 2007, when my wife (and fellow designer and business partner) and I established UnderConsideration as an LLC and left our respective jobs. BUT, the core of our business — blogging — had been in place since 2002, but that’s part of a bigger story. In our first two years we did a lot of client work. Websites and identities for a good balance of for-profit clients and non-profits. In 2009 we sort of lost all our clients (thanks, economy!) and we were forced to figure out how to make money on our own, and we have transitioned into a strange “publisher” where we generate content online through our blogs. We’ve self-published one book and are in the process of another; we run one conference right now and are planning to run two next year; and we’ve established a couple of design awards that have attracted some really fantastic work.
How long have you been a dad? How many kids? Ages?
I’ve been a dad for four years. Two daughters — the oldest one just turned 4, and youngest one is 13 months.
How has fatherhood affected or influenced your work or business (positively or negatively)?
It’s definitely been positive. When we had our first I had one of the best jobs in the design world, working with Michael Bierut at Pentagram in New York. But it was a very demanding job and the only way to achieve the level of sophistication and precision they are known for is by spending a lot of time revising and finessing your own work, so that meant a lot of heavy hours at the office. Once my kid was born I could not wait for the clock to hit 6:00 pm so I could rush home, and in the mornings I would hate leaving the house. The situation was not fair for my daughter, for me, or for Pentagram. That’s when we decided to start our own business and run it from home so we could be there for our daughter as much as possible. So she gave us the push we needed to take that last leap. The negative aspects are just the petty ones: I may be on the phone with a client or vendor and if a tantrum explodes in the living room it can be heard ’round the world, or there might be some interruptions to change a poopy diaper while I’m trying to get my kern on.
Have you ever designed anything for or related to your children? Birth announcement, party invitation, etc.?
No, not at all. That’s Bryony’s department. My style is too much Gotham, Black weight, 120pt, black on white. Scarier than the boogeyman for a 4-year-old.
Do you have any work that you feel was inspired by your kids or fatherhood, whether it’s directly related to children/parenting or not?
Nope. By now you think I actually hate my children. But I have a very clear division between kids and work. When I’m with my girls I’m sill and make goofy faces and farting noises and whatever… When I’m at work, or thinking about work, it’s all business and our business has nothing to do with kids. We’ve been talking to a science museum to redo their identity for the last three years, and if we do get it one day, I know that I will have a lot of first-hand experience to draw from, because our oldest loves children and science museums.
Is there any particular child product whose design you really like?
I love The Backyardigans. I wish I had their dance moves. There is something very smart and yet completely mainstream about it that I like. Other than that, I respond well to anything that can withstand the abuse of children. I’ve learned that you can spend a $100 on a pretty, minimalist, designer piece of furniture that looks great in your house and have your kid hate it, or you can spend $20 on a Fisher-Price vibrating swing with monkeys and rainbows and jungle sounds coming out of it and have your kid spend an hour mesmerized by it, while you catch your breath.
Any you can’t stand?
My oldest daughter is starting to get into princesses and fairies. I love her and I’ll do anything for her, but the princesses and the fairies are not my cup of tea. Sometimes, at the end of the day, if Ultimate Fighting is on after they go to sleep, I’ll watch it just to bring some balance to my life.
Anything else you’d like to add?
There is nothing more invigorating than getting an unexpected hug or laugh from your kid at 3:00 in the afternoon just when you are running out of steam from working. Everything we do is to give them a better life, so having them around as we go about our business is a real pleasure and gives fulfillment to what we do.