An Interview with Peter Lippitt

Non Wood

An Interview with a man and woman talking with speech bubbles on a brick wall.

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow designer Peter Lippitt of Peter Scarks Design about his journey into infographic design, how he creates his work and what advice he would give to clients looking for an infographic designer. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you tell me a bit about your career/education background? How long have you been a designer and how did you get to where you are now?

I attended art school and studied Technical Illustration when I was 16. I started my career as an art worker for a reprographics company, which gave me a solid understanding of the offset litho printing process. In the mid-90s, I learnt how to code html and css and started working as a web graphic designer. I then worked for Orange as a mid-weight designer just as they were revolutionising the telecomms industry with their uber cool brand. In 2004 I started Peter Scarks Design.

You have a tab on your website for infographics – Do you consider it a specialty?

Yes. We’ve partnered with lots of brands to produce a range of infographics. We also apply the same thinking to presentation design through Prezi and Powerpoint.

What attracted you to infographics?

Primarily, the idea of taking something that’s not greatly understood and simplifying it. By simplifying it, you need to make it look beautiful too. There’s a lot of ugliness out there in the way of noise, and we’re fighting it by creating something interesting that is easy to understand and looks great. Infographics are the ultimate democratic way of sharing information.

What would you describe as your main sources of inspiration?

Everybody. Everything. Everywhere. There are stories to be told visually everywhere. How to make the connections for your clients is how good you are as an infographic designer.

Do you have a favourite subject matter?

Food and drink. Popular culture. Business – I like to simplify businesses processes.

Can you tell us about the process you go through when designing an infographic?

I try to become a mini-expert in the subject matter. I’ll ask lots of questions, looking for clues and ideas to help me establish a visual treatment. I then produce a rough sketch of how the infographic will look – this gives stakeholders an opportunity to fine tune before it goes to the graphic design stage. I then set up the artboard, apply a grid – I like the rule of thirds! Most of the time I’m working with brand guidelines and outputted skyscraper-size graphics. I’ll then work each section, making sure there is balance, flow and correct visual hierarchy to the work.

Would you say you have a specific style, or do you prefer to mix your visual styles up?

I like less-is-more. White space and uncluttered. That it’s important to leave out as much as it is to leave in.  We do have a house style at Peter Scarks Design. You can see it in our work.

Are there any skills you’re looking to learn in the near future?

I’m interested in what I don’t know. I like making connections with things that aren’t necessarily to do with graphic design per se. I like to cross over into other categories for inspiration. A designer should be deeply curious about everything.

Is there anything that drives you crazy about other people’s infographics?

When an infographic is beautifully presented. Stunning illustration. Great use of colour. Knock out art direction. Complex subject matter distilled n a simple way. That drives me crazy – so much so that I wish that I had done it.

What is the one design mistake you’ve made that you will never repeat again?

Not checking and checking again. Every designer has had a time when they’ve been caught out by typos. As a rule – you can’t proof your own work, so get somebody else to do it too.

What advice would you give to clients looking for an infographic designer?

Look at their work. Look at who they have partnered with. Talk to them about best practice. Look for a balance and beauty in their work. Don’t go to the bottom or you’ll end up with mediocre work.

So, what’s next?

We have a solid video and motion graphics capacity at PSD so, partnering with developers, we would love to do more interactive infographics and explore how VR can be integrated into infographic design.

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You can see Peter’s work at peterscarks.co.uk
Thanks to Peter for his time and insight.

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