Ever since his Dad gave him a copy of Photoshop for his 14th Birthday, Yossi Belkin has made his mark in the graphic design industry and he has grown into passionate photographer too. His art is fresh, hip, and modern, and with clients like Oscar Meyer and Subway, it goes without saying that his work is of the highest calibre.
What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer?
When I was in middle school, I used to go way overboard on school projects. Spending hours upon hours at my local Kinkos cutting, scanning, gluing and using Microsoft Paint and word to put it all together. I already knew then that this was something I wanted to do. I just did not really know what “this” was. Thanks to my dad for giving me a laptop with photoshop loaded on it for my 14th birthday back in 2003, I started taking my “projects” to the next level. Granted, they had a lot of drop shadows and lens flares, but hey, it was 2003! It was a love affair. I would spend every waking moment when I was not in school from then on working in Photoshop and seeing what else I could create.
What does your day consist of?
Things changed drastically for me over the past year as I became a dad and moved into an office. Currently my day looks like this. Wake up with my little guy and play with him and give him breakfast while my incredible wife catches up on some much deserved shut eye. Pack lunch and head to the office. I currently share office space with the amazing team at www.freshmadebrands.com and it’s a special experience to be around such talented people all day. I stay in the office working on a slew of freelance projects until around 6pm which is when I try and head home. Dinner with the family, blowing off last minute steam with my little man and then bath time. Finally, once my son is sleeping peacefully it’s to the couch for some netflix, a good single malt and time with my wife. That’s when everything goes according to plan. Obviously, working overtime and heading back for late nights at the office are way too common with freelancing but I try.
What was the first logo you ever designed?
The first logo I ever designed was for a Jewish Center called Chabad. It’s part of a large sect of orthodox Chassidic Judaism with over 4000 centers around the world. Growing up as a member of the Chabad Community and a follower of the Chabad Chassidic movement I had an in with the community. What started as a one logo for a Chabad center in Chicago quickly spread to doing dozens and dozens for different Chabad centers all over the world. From New York to Berlin. Granted, the work I was doing then was pretty awful, it was fun to be recognized and have my work so public at such a young age.
Are you a Mac or a PC?
Mac all the way. I started on an old Dell Latitude but ever since I got my first iMac way back when I can’t bring myself to part with it.
Are you Marvel or DC?
Both? I really love The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.
Which software do you use frequently?
Photoshop is my go to. I never got the hang of Illustrator the way everyone seems to tell me I should. I try but bad habits are bad habits and I always find myself back in Photoshop. It’s a work in progress.
What is your favourite style of logo design? and why?
Clean. Minimalistic. I like brands that embody the “Aha” moment without trying too hard. Or that are just so aesthetically pleasing and brand-able that I could see it being used small and in one color and be just as blown away by it as if it was animated in the opening sequence of True Detectives season one.
What is your daily inspiration when you design?
I spend an unhealthy amount of time on behance and dribbble. When I am truly stuck on something, I hop on over to ffffound.com and that generally does the trick.
What do you reckon is the best logo you’ve designed?
Damn. Thats a hard one. I don’t have a favorite logo. I am very proud of a lot of my work. Some of my favorites have been rejected by clients and have never even seen the light of day. Others, that I was never a big fan of, have been brought up to me so many times by new clients asking if they could have something like “that!”.
What are your top 5 favourite logos? (from all the logos ever created by mankind)
Oh. Another hard one. Honestly, It’s easy for me to say things like Nike, Apple etc. But do I really love those logos? Or do I love the “brands”? The answer is both. The logos are great. But the brands, the way the products and the marketing and the design and feeling surrounding the logo. That’s what I love. If we are talking just my favorite logos? That changes day to day as hundreds of talented designers blow my mind over and over again across the world.
What’s the best part of what you do?
Creating something. Having an idea. Sketching a shape and then seeing that morph into a brand. Breathing life into a product or organization or anything for that matter. Seeing as a restaurant goes from that place that makes a good burger to that place that I need to be in right now. Needing to feel the logo burnt into the wood table, see the pattern and custom illustration painted on the wall. That burger is now more then just a good burger. It’s an experience. To me, thats the most enjoyable part of what I do. Watching my work grow wings and go from a brand I designed on my computer to a brand that makes me want to be there to experience it.
What else do you do apart from design?
I dabbled in photography for a while. Toured around with Matisyahu shooting his live shows. Love photography but since getting married and becoming a dad, outside of work, it’s family all day every day. Maybe a little bit of Call of Duty. Ok, maybe a little too much of Call of Duty.
One thing you always carry with you?
My hard-drive. Never got used to the whole dropbox thing. I have one, loaded with all my fonts, files etc. but for some reason I feel naked without having it all there with me on my little hard-drive. Oh, and a glasses cleaning cloth. I always used to laugh at my dad as he would pull it out and breath on his glasses. Alas, here I am.
What’s lined up for Yossi Belkin in the future?
In a perfect world, I would love to keep doing what I’m doing. I am truly blessed to be able to work with such incredible clients on so many amazing projects. Maybe one day, open a firm, offer the whole package. Take my brands as far as they can go… Until then, I’m a very lucky designer to receive so much support from the design community and my clients and I am humbled and grateful.
Who is the most inspiring person to you?
As a person – The Lubavitcher Rebbe, the leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. I live my day to day life following his instructions for how to be a better human and make this world a better place. Bringing a drop of light to a world that seems so dark at times. He would famously say, a little light dispels a lot of darkness. He would also say that each good deed a person does in his life, can be the good deed that tips the scale of good and evil in this world bringing about an era of goodness and peace for all mankind. I dig that. We all know we can use some of that right now.
As a designer – Jay Fletcher has been inspiring me with each piece he puts out for the last few years. I don’t know him and never met him. I personally think he’s some sort of wizard but people tell me he’s just an awesome dude. But seriously, the guy can design. Genius work.
What is your message of inspiration for budding logo designers?
Keep at it and don’t lose your head when someone hires you. The first bunch of years I was doing logos for people, I was pretty awful. I wish I had the time to go and contact every client I worked with before 2010 and offer them a free re-brand. Know your worth and where you stand as a designer and know that with each project, with each hour of trying something new, you are only going to get better and better. Keep at it.