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Meet Andrew Houle, Founder of MyInkBlog.com

by Grant Friedman

on December 10, 2008

in Interviews

This week I had the opportunity to interview Andrew Houle from My Ink Blog.  Andrew interviewed me about my site very early on and has always been a huge help to me as well as a resource for me whenever I’ve had a question.  I have really enjoyed reading his blog and in this interview Andrew shares some great insights into the world of design blogging.  I hope you guys enjoy this interview and when you’re finished, feel free to visit his websites and to connect with him using the social network of your choosing.

Andrew, thanks so much for participating in this interview.  Can you begin by explaining a little bout your background?  Where are you from?  How did you get your start as a designer?

Grant, thanks so much for the opportunity to be interviewed on Colorburned. I love the site, and I’ve really enjoyed watching your blog grow!

I grew up in upstate NY. Within this past year I’ve moved to western NY to take a position as a web developer at Niagara University. I’m currently working toward rebuilding the entire site (we are basically starting over from scratch). The site is going to built using Silverstripe CMS, which I’ve grown to love and become a big advocate of.

I began my design career at a small fine arts gallery. I was the assistant gallery director; in charge of all graphic design, from postcards to brochures. As well as recreating the entire website. It was at this job, that I began to get a passion for all things design. Ever since then that passion has continued to grow.



I am always interested in how design bloggers got their start.  How did you fall into the world of design blogging?

I began blogging really as a combination of wanting to give back to the design community, and wanting to learn more about wordpress. I kept seeing awesome wordpress blogs and my curiosity got me to download and experiment with a local wordpress installation. It didn’t take me long to realize the potential and power of this awesome open source platform. Every day, I learn so much from the new challenges I take on, and really that’s what makes blogging so great. I’m constantly pushing myself to try and learn more and more.


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How has blogging affected your ability to design?  Do you feel you spend more time blogging and less time designing than you used to?  Or has blogging opened up possibilities that you might not have had otherwise?

In general blogging has helped me grow considerably as a designer. Trying to be an expert on a subject (or at least close to it) really pushes me to learn and try things I wouldn’t have otherwise. And although blogging is certainly very time-consuming, it’s also extremely rewarding. I’m probably spending less time designing, more time learning, and receiving more opportunities then I would have otherwise.


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Tell us a little about your workspace.  Do you prefer a Mac or PC?  Why do you prefer one over the other?  Do you work with a tablet?  Single or dual monitors?

My workspace is quite modest, and right now is in a bit of a transition. Mostly because my PC and laptop are both faltering and I have a baby on the way (there goes my office). In general, I like to keep my workspace as simple as possible, so I’m planning on buying a sleek, simple desk and a MacBook. However, right now I’m stuck rebuilding my PC because the mother board went on me. The whole process has proven to be quite a learning experience, mostly because it’s the first time I’ve ever dove into hardware.

I started in design as a PC advocate, but I’ve recently changed my alliances over to Mac. At work I get to design on a 24″ IMac; which I love. They are simply better and more reliable. At my home office, I don’t have a tablet or dual monitors, but I’d prefer to have both luxuries. I just have to convince my wife that they are necessary for my job.


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Do you use any non-Adobe tools or software that you would like to share with us?  Any plug-ins that you like?

As I mentioned earlier, Silverstripe has quickly become one of my favorite development tools. They are an awesome CMS that’s very intuitively built on OO PHP and MySQL.

A plugin that I would have a tough time doing without is Firebug for Firefox. This plugin has saved me countless hours of potential CSS headaches.


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Are there any web services that you cannot live without?

I like to use Zoho to keep track of a lot of my invoices, notes and details. Another awesome web service is BuySellAds. They’ve streamlined all my blog’s advertisements, and anything that saves me time is so very much worth it! Then there’s the social media sites that consume far too much of my time.  I use Twitter a lot. I’m amazed at just how helpful it has been to help spread the word of my blog and network in with other like-minded designers. I also use Digg and Delicious quite frequently.


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Which designers have influenced you the most and why?  Are there any areas of design that you would like to experiment with?

The entire design community has influenced me so much it’s tough to pinpoint just a couple of designers. But I’ll give it a try, here goes:

Adelle Charles (Interview) of Fuel Your Creativity – Adelle has to be one of the most helpful people in the design community. She is always available to give advice and lend a hand. She has a great eye for design, and her work ethic is unbelievable.

Liam McKay of Function – Liam’s style of subtle grunge, creativity and alignment are second to none. His blog always has inspirational articles and awesome freebies. I especially like his recent work with wordpress themes.

David Airey – David is such a professional. I always enjoy reading his posts on the logo design process. He is very thorough and detail oriented, and has a knack for all things design. His blog is a fantastic example of a minimalist design done right.

There are so many more folks that have inspired me, but I figured I should keep the list to just three.

To answer the second part of your question, I would love to learn more about a bunch of areas of design. However, the three areas at the forefront of my mind at this moment are: Silverstripe, WordPress themes and AJAX.


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Finally, which do you prefer?  iPhone or Blackberry?  Why?

Although I’d love to own either, right now I just have a simple Samsung cell. But after seeing enough ads and reviews I’ll say the iPhone.


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ANDREW’S WEBSITES

MyInkBlog – My blog where I spend most of my efforts and time. It’s designed to be a resource for fellow designers. Complete with tutorials, articles, interviews, freebies and more.

Houle Designs – My portfolio site that is badly in need of a redesign (hopefully soon).

Fighting Chance Fantasy – A blog I started with a friend of mine. We give fantasy sports advice mostly for baseball and football.

CONNECT WITH ANDREW

Twitter
Flickr
Stumble Upon
Digg
Delicious
Design Float

About Grant Friedman

Grant Friedman is a graphic design, blogger, and author. In addition to being the founder of this website, Grant is also the editor of Psdtuts, one of the world's most popular tutorial websites.