Jolly Interviews! Bart-Jan Verhoef

Bart-Jan Verhoef is a talented digital designer who caught our eye with his stand-out interface designs on Dribbble.

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In the spectrum of job descriptions web professionals have (Web Designer, User Interface Designer, Front-End Developer, User Experience Designer), which would you say best fits your skill set?

I call myself a designer. It covers my skills, ranging from concept development, content strategy, interaction and visual design to occasionally some frontend development. I’m also a – newbie – creative director, overseeing the creative work at VI Company.

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Your recent interface design is incredibly refreshing. As data-driven applications become more prevalent in every day use, do you think designers are being given more responsibility, and more credit in their work?

Yes, definately. Our industry is maturing and the need for design that people can connect to is recognized more than ever before. We have a large responsibility in creating things that are useful and meaningful in peoples everday life, be it on a small or a large scale. I think designers who carry this responsibility well do get credit for it, as they should. There’s still a lot of not-so-great design out there, celebrating good design and its creators sets an example for the rest of us.

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As designers we’re more often than not being asked to fit more information into smaller devices. Do you see the explosion in the numbers of handheld devices as a problem or an opportunity?

An opportunity, without a doubt. Our work went from desktops, where people may spend up till a few hours a day max, to mobile devices where our work is basically available to them at all times. And not just that, the role the web and all kinds of apps play in people’s daily life is still constantly increasing. That’s a HUGE opportunity for anyone willing to adapt.

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Where do you draw inspiration from? Which sites or blogs do you visit every day?

Curious by nature, I have a wide range of interests – from design to arts and literature, politics, music, crafts, nature and many other things. These are all topics I draw inspiration from. It’s hard to be very specific as a lot of different things can inspire me, ranging from problems begging for a (better) solution to beauty in design, art or nature that trigger me as well.

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Who are your favourite designers or agencies at the moment?

Altough I always struggle to name favourites of anything, I can say I have an angoing appreciation for the work of Trent Walton, Ryan Clark, Scott Hill of Foundry Collective, Kelli Anderson, Jason Santa Maria, Naz Hamid, Tyler Thompson and several others I’m forgetting right now!

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Our experience of Dutch creatives is that they’re generally very talented but almost always humble and likeable people. What would you say are the reasons for this?

I haven’t thought of Dutch creatives typically being like that before. I agree that there is a lot of talent here, and a lot of dutch creatives indeed are very likeable people too. At the same time, very few have a public voice in design. If that’s because they’re humble, I don’t consider it to be just a good thing: I’d love to see more Dutch designers blog, talk on events and so on. The only reason for Dutch creatives to be (too) humble is that many of them have a strong focus on what’s happening elsewhere, in other countries, and feel they don’t play much of role in the international industry and community.

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One of the things we really like about your shots on Dribbble is that they’re completely honest and exposed. There’s not a single shot with browser chrome or a hand holding an iPhone obscuring your work. Is that something you’ve ever been conscious of avoiding?

Yes. While there might be a rare situtation in which any of those actually adds to a shot, to add context for example, in most cases, not just on dribbble but also in portfolios, they are indeed obscuring the work. I prefer staying away from (detailed) browser chrome, iPhones, Macs and other kinds of elements that direct attention away from the actual design, and serve my work as it is.

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Bart-Jan’s work can be seen on his website.

Jolly Bureau, May 29, 2012