Interview with Shelby White (Wanken) + Giveaway

Shelby White also known as WANKEN is visual designer and photographer currently living in Portland, Oregon. His blog is part of a quality content that will surely inspired your retro side on visuals and photography and more. He's also the creator of, image-based inspiration resource that is really on the verge of taking our internet image research experience to a whole new level.

For more information on Shelby White, check out his blog or follow him on Twitter @shelbywhite.

You can also check out his website or follow Designspiration on Twitter @designspiration.

Shelby White (Wanken) - Image by Ian Matteson

1. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? Where you studied, what courses you took?

I'm a visual designer and photographer working under the moniker Wanken and currently living in Portland. I also am the founder of Designspiration. Wanken originally started as a video production venture by brother and I in 2004. After a while video production become less of an interest so I took Wanken and ran with it in a different direction involving design and photography.

In 2007 I moved to Seattle to get a bachelors degree in graphic design at the Art Institute. At the time I was heavily into photography but had no interest in going to school for it. Since the degree was so focused, most of the classes revolved around the principles of design.

2. You're also a writer for the ISO50 blog; tell us a little bit about that story?

I followed ISO50 Blog for years and actually started WANKEN around the same time. Gradually I was finding that my interests were quite aligned with Scott's and Alex's. Randomly one day I received a message from them asking if I was interested in coming on as a writer. At first I almost ignored the message because I thought someone was playing a joke on me.

3. Could you describe for us your typical 'Start to Finish' workflow on a project and what programs do you use the most?

Every project is different but I try to stick to a similar process each time. I start with defining a clear goal of what the project needs to do. I really believe this is essential. After defining goals I try to get ideas out of my head as quickly as possible by sketching. This goes for any print or web work. Actually, it goes for anything you do.

Filtering out bad ideas quickly is the next step. If I really believe an idea is worthwhile, I'll take it through questioning as if I'm trying to hire it. If the idea or feature isn't doing the job that it should be, then it should be fired.

When I first started designing I had to use Paint because I didn't have Photoshop. Now I regularly use Aperture, Illustrator, Indesign, Photoshop and Coda. I work between two stations: a Mac Pro desktop and a MacBook Pro laptop as my travel station. The laptop serves more of a developing station and the desktop is the design/photo station. As of right now the majority of my work is being done on the MacBook Pro.

4. Where does your inspiration come from?

A portion of my inspiration comes from specific aesthetics of design or photos. The rest that I have control over, comes from imaginative interpretations of feelings or nostalgic moments that I've had. The most typical and clear form of inspiration I get, is from reading about Mid-century or Swiss design.

Regularly I'll sift through archives over 10,000 images and only ended up with 4 images that truly inspire me. For now I may have found what inspires me, but it will continue to change. Of course I have to mention that I browse Designspiration on a daily basis in search of inspirational images.

What is the concept of is an image-based inspiration resource that allows anyone to search and explore images to get inspired. The site is aimed at helping inspire students and professionals in all of the creative industries: architecture, design, fashion, photography, etc.

There are a number of features to better the experience on Designspiration: the live search function which allows you to just start typing at anytime to search, searching by color, using the keyboards arrow keys to go to next/previous posts & pages and then the ability to traverse the site using tags.

I've written a detailed article about the time it took for me to build the site and the process behind it. The project overall took around 2,000 hours to complete and exposed me to more great design than I knew existed.

6. What are your plans for the future; any new projects?

As of right now you can expect to see some Wanken t-shirts being launched by the new year as well as more posters. I've been working on the Designspiration iPhone & iPad app. The site itself will receive some updates as well to enhance the experience. Wanken will also get some new updates.

7. How does your job as an designer influence your life; do you feel that you see things differently?

Since I've gone through school, I've definitely had to change the way I look at things. During my first year in college I would return home and see the design of local businesses and just hate it. There definitely is a point when you have to learn to disconnect from design just enough so you're able to enjoy things for what they are.

About half way through college when I started revisiting my entrepreneurial interests, I also realized the importance of knowing more than just design. Knowing about business, social media and just about people has really helped me.

8. Once again, thank you very much for the interview. As a final word, do you have any tips for upcoming designers?

I have three pieces of advice that I've found enormously helpful: learning by trial and error, aligning your goals, and being positive.

Learning by trial and error is something I can't stress enough. I've done it and succeeded so there's no reason you can't do it too. It's natural that you may be afraid to try new things but you can't be worried about failing. The fact is, you'll most likely fail at first, but get past it quickly. The only way to get better is to try and try again—you have nothing to lose.

Alongside trial and error learning is aligning your goals. Figure out what your larger goals are for what you want to do or who you want to be. Align yourself with your larger goal and you'll find yourself creating smaller goals that fall perfectly into place. Sounds cheesy doesn't it? Wildly successful people don't question whether or not they can do something or if they'll hit their mark, they know they will because they've aligned themselves to do so.

Learn to focus your positive energy. The more positive you are the easier it will be for you to envision your goals and to reach them. Be positive, but remember to be honestly honest with yourself because if you have your positive energy flowing and you don't know how to do something, you will be able to do it.


To end this interview, Shelby was kind enough to make a little giveaway to our readers. He's giving away this beautiful poster entitled: "The Typefaces of the World".

To participate is simple, just leave a comment with your valid email in the comment box below and we'll pick one lucky winner by the end of this week. Good Luck!