Joel Skotak

graphic designer
Location: Austin, Texas

All images are copyrighted and strictly for educational and viewing purposes.



How did you become a designer?

I’ve always enjoyed being creative and I’ve also always loved things that are visually appealing. So, I guess I decided that I wanted to make things look good for a living, and I’m blessed to be able to do that. I enjoy the creative process – starting with a blank canvas and finishing with something that communicates, is functional, and looks nice is very rewarding.

Where are you from originally?

Born in Kansas Ciy, lived in Dallas for 12 years, and Austin for 14.

Who were your main influences growing up?

Artistically, any piece of art I thought was amazing. Realism, Picasso, Monet, Bauhaus, Frank Lloyd Wright and Japanese paintings are my primary influences. As far as people go, my parents always encouraged me to excel at what I was good at, whether it was sports, art, or anything else.

Did you go to art school/college for design or are you self-taught?

I have a degree in Design from the University of Texas at Austin. This school emphasized the creative process more than specialized graphic design trade skills. The program laid a great foundation and set me moving in the right direction, but I’ve had to teach myself alot, like any graphic designer must do, to stay on top of trends, techniques, and technology.

Any advice or tips to novice designers?

Challenge yourself to produce work that is better than work you are inspired by. Be very critical of your work, but when someone says job well done, let it soak in. Constantly observe and analyze art and design in your everyday life and ask yourself how you would make it better.

What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?

Since March of 2006 I’ve been heading up a nonprofit organization called Above Grounds. This organization promotes an intangible idea of community, and to come up with original artwork and a well designed system for representing and communicating “community” was a good challenge. In some ways, though, being the person that writes the copy and knows the organization better than anyone else makes my job of communicating the message visually much easier than if I was working for someone else.

What is your favorite portfolio piece? Why?

Without a doubt, is my favorite piece. I’m happy with the way it looks and functions, but it is also helping to build and unify a community in Austin. This project has become such a part of my life that it means a whole lot more to me than any other project could.

What American artist inspires you most?

Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, especially “Fallingwater“, is awe-inspiring to me. When my work is as functionally beautiful as his, I’ll be satisfied. Until then, it’s back to the drawing board!