Brent Couchman is a graphic designer working in San Francisco, California. He moved to the Bay Area a few years ago to work at Hatch design, but has recently started working fulltime for himself. Before working at Hatch, he was Senior Designer at Fossil in Dallas, Texas.
Draw Outside the Lines
If you have a degree in what field is it?
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire?
It's hard to pick one but I've always really admired the work of Jason Schulte/Office.
What's the strangest request you've received from a client?
I actually havent had anything too crazy. One time a client mailed me an 8.5x11 pencil sketch of a vineyard scene he wanted me to make into his logo.
If you weren't working as a designer what would you be doing?
My wife and I always joke about starting a food truck. Maybe bringing some Tex-Mex to the Bay Area would be nice.
What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign?
ESPN's on-air graphics are pretty weak. I'd love to see someone give that whole package a facelift. I've never understood why all that faux-3D fractal space crystals is associated with sports.
From where do your best ideas originate?
Usually when I'm not thinking about the project, or I've taken a break to distract myself. I may have the project on my mind for weeks but I'll be doing something unrelated and I'll see something that just sparks an idea. Almost all of my favorite logos have happened that way.
How do you overcome a creative block?
Most of the time I'll disregard one aspect of the brief and start "playing" in an area that might feel wrong, then when something happens I can bring it back into context or it will help spark another idea that works. I think it's mostly about pushing through and creating, even if its not totally right, at some point a solution will naturally come out that makes sense.
What's your dream project (not client, but project)?
I'd really like to work on an outdoor equipment brand from the ground up. It's one of those industries with so much terrible design work, seems like a lot of fun and an interesting challenge to come up with something great.
Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design?
Music has always been a huge passion of mine so listening to or playing music is something I'm constantly doing. Also illustration has become sort of a creative outlet when I'm feeling too restrained. I'll just start drawing random objects or scenes, playing with scale, form, color, etc just for fun and practice.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life?
For me it's all rolled into one. I'm lucky to work in an industry I'm passionate about and would be doing the same thing even if I wasnt being paid.
What product/gadget can you not live without?
What's your favorite quote?
Work hard and be nice to people. —Anthony Burrill
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession?
Work hard, be nice, soak everything in. Even if your first job isn't great, you can learn from the people around you, even if it's learning what not to do.
What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
Good work takes hard work. I was always frustrated looking at other designers work, thinking they had it easy, or didn't have to work as hard to get great solutions. But as I've met more and more designers I look up to, I've seen they all put tons of hard work into their work.