Meet Ryan Putnam (AKA Rype) of Vectips

This week I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite illustrators and tutorial writers Ryan Putnam (AKA Rype) of Vectips. Some of you may immediately recognize Ryan from his website, others may know him from some of the amazing tutorials he has written over at VECTORTUTS or even from some of the many illustrations he has for sale on iStockPhoto. I have been very impressed with Ryan’s work as well as his blog and I highly recommend that you guys take a look at his website as well as his tutorials. He has a lot to offer some one looking to learn more about Illustrator or illustration in general. As always, scroll down to read more about Ryan and when you’re done, feel free to connect with his using the social network of your choosing.

Ryan, thank you very much for participating in this interview.  I’ve learned a lot by following your blog and I am sure that my readers feel the same way.  Can you start off by explaining a bit about your background?  Where are you from?  How did you get your start as a designer?

Thanks for the interview! I love Colorburned and all the great Illustrator brushes!

I’m from Colorado Springs, Colorado and I’ve lived here most of my life. I’ve been drawing and doodling my whole life always recreating comic book cover and cartoons. In high-school I started with fine art, then went to Colorado State University and graduated in 2004 with a BFA in Graphic Design. It was a good program. We were taught more design principles rather than program knowledge.

After college, I worked for a print house and was the prepress manager and graphic designer. I didn’t stay there long, it wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to do. After the print house, I worked for a small design agency where I designed print collateral, identity packages, book covers, websites and so on. It was great experience!

The whole time I was working I was contributing to iStock and doing freelance work on the side. Eventually the the freelance and stock made enough money for me to go full-time freelance. This enabled me to explore other projects like Vectips.


I am always interested in learning how successful design bloggers got their start.  How did you fall into the world of design blogging?  How did you come up with the idea behind Vectips?

I started Vectips because I wanted a site where I could find Illustrator tips, tricks, and tutorials. I use Illustrator almost all day, every day, and little quick tips or tutorials on trends and styles are extremely valuable. I loved when Bittbox would post a quick tip for Illustrator. It’s amazing how much these tips, tricks, and tutorials help. So I wanted one place just for Illustrator, and I figured if I was clamoring for it, other were as well.

It was also a chance to give back to the design blogging community. I have learned so much from all the great sites out there, it’s my chance to give some knowledge back. So I hope the content is relevant and useful.


There are a lot of design blogs out there?  Why do you think your blog has become so popular?  At what point did you realize that your site was beginning to gain such a loyal following?

I like to think it is because readers can see my passion for the subject. I also hope that readers are getting useful knowledge to help with designing and illustrating with Illustrator.

Not really sure at what point I thought “Wow, people are actually reading!” I guess it was when I was asked to contribute to Vectortuts. That is when I figured out people actually knew who I was, very flattering.


Many of my readers might not know that in addition to maintaining Vectips that you are also a monthly contributor to VECTORTUTS.  Would you tell us a little about your work flow?  How much time do you spend blogging and writing tutorials?  Do you get much time to work on personal or professional projects?

Working with Vectortuts is great and I’m lucky enough to work Sean Hodge (Interview) who is a great editor. Recently, I had to put Vetortuts on hold because of some other projects, but I will be back soon.

I do a good deal of client work along side the blogging. Actually, I have gotten many new clients because of Vectips. I like to do a mixture of blogging, designing,  and illustrating for client and personal projects. I tend to get bored if I am constantly doing one or the other.

Because of juggling, organizing my time is essential. A usual days goes something like: wake up and drink coffee, manage social networks and email, do some writing, make corrections to client work, eat lunch and watch podcasts, check emails again, do design and illustrating work, and if time is left over, I will explore personal projects. This is pretty much the schedule I stick to. I like writing in the morning and designing in the afternoon and always make time for relaxing and hanging out with my wife in the evenings.

I wish I had more time to spend on personal projects and learning, but I usually try to set aside time on Fridays to just have fun.


I personally believe that you write some of the best vector tutorials out there.  How do you come up with such amazing ideas?

Wow, thanks! It’s hard sometimes constantly coming up with things to write and blog about. I try to really pay attention to popular trends and styles and how to apply them to vector art. I want to create relevant cool looking tutorials, but keep them relatively simple. I hope to make tutorials that anyone can create, tutorials you don’t have to be an amazing artist to create. Moreover, I try to create tutorials that are easy to apply to different illustration and designs.


Tell us a little about your workspace.  Do you prefer a Mac or a PC?  Why do you prefer one over the other?  Do you work with a tablet?  If so, which one do you use?  Do you prefer single or dual monitors?

I work on a Mac. I was brought up in a PC household, but switched a couple of years into my design career. My first design job, we used PC and my second job, we used Macs.  After working on both extensively, I prefer to work on a Mac. I prefer the overall usability of the Mac OS so I don’t mind paying the Apple Tax.

For a tablet, I use a Wacom Intuos3 6×8 tablet. I have be using it for the past 5 months and don’t know how I lived without it. It greatly improves my Illustrator and Photoshop productivity and the added features that come with using a tablet in these programs are awesome.

I still just use a single monitor. I have an extra monitor and I don’t know why I don’t hook it up. I use Mac OS X Spaces on the Mac and it kind of acts like different monitors. I have a space set for social networking and communication programs, one for design programs, and one for writing and blogging. This work pretty well, but I will have to check out the dual monitors setup.


Do you use any non-Adobe tools or software that you would like to share with us?  Any Illustrator plug-ins that you could not live without?

For illustrating and design I stick to the Adobe products. I haven’t felt the need to explore any other programs. I’m sure there are some great image and vector editors out there, but I don’t want to take the time in learning another programs. For web development, I use Coda and it works great.

As far as plugins, I’ve been using the Phantasm CS Studio plugin lately. It’s a great plugin, adding some color adjustment functionality to Illustrator, but is a little expensive. Rick Johnson’s Graffix plugins are always useful. One of the most useful, is his Select Menu Plugin, but it is not available for CS4 yet.


Earlier I mentioned your personal and professional projects.  Are you working on any exciting new projects that you would like to share with my readers?

I am writing some lessons for The Adobe Illustrator CS4 Wow! Book, which is really awesome! I love the Wow series and can’t believe I’m writing some lessons for it. I hope to put out a book by myself in the near future, but we will see.

Other than that, it is just the usual client projects, but I always have ideas in my head for new blogs and projects, I just need to find the time.


What would you consider your dream project?

That’s a hard one. I think all my dream projects would be personal projects and probably something like creating my own graphic novel or writing and illustrating a series of children’s books.


Which designers have influenced you the most?  Are there any areas of design that you would like to experiment with?  Any software that you have always wanted to learn?

There are some many designers and illustrators I admire. I love so many different styles and honestly, I sometimes I forget their names, I just recognize their work. Here are just a couple illustrators and designers that I admire.

Matthew Woodson

Simon Oxley

Chris Leavens

Jared Nickerson

I would love to design for clothing, interiors, products and anything else that can be designed. I really love creating things. It’s a great feeling when you look or hold something you have designed or created. I actually would love to get into more crafty projects. I crochet hats, scarfs, and other clothing as a hobby (I know, I sound like an old lady), but it is really relaxing, a good way to get away from the computer, I’m still doing something creative, and I’m make something I can use.

I would also love to learn how to program, but that might be too big a bear to tackle.


What advice would you give to any aspiring designer or blogger looking to make it in the industry?

Be passionate about your work but be able to step away from it. If you can’t take criticism, you might not be in the right place.  Also, ask questions and take advice, but trust you gut instinct.

I would suggest any aspiring designer and blogger to be careful of what they sign and agree too. Always think about the future ramifications of signing and agreeing to terms, contracts, and client requests. It could make things harder in the future.


Finally, which do you prefer?  Blackberry or iPhone?

iPhone all the way. I use it all the time for emailing, blogging, and as a resource for designing. I use the apps Color Expert and Font Shuffle (Links to iTunes Store) all the time for designs and illustrations.


Illustrator tips, tricks, and tutorials.

Rype Arts:
Ryan’s personal portfolio which is in the process of a redesign.


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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.

  • Jean-Claude Tremblay

    Great Interview! Always interesting to understand the “story” of some peoples like Ryan. Hope 2009 will bring others amazing interview like this.

  • Thanks again for the interview! I really enjoyed it!

  • Nice interview. I love Ryan’s illustrations, he’s definitely one of the best in my opinion. I especially like his tutorial for the leafy text that is shown above.

  • Thank you, Grant, for that interview.
    I love Ryan’s work and i learn great deal from his tutorials. The fact that he keeps it simple but still impressive is very helpfull for people like me, who just started working 2d graphics.
    Thanks again. Keep these interviews coming…
    Happy new year!

  • Ryan, you make me want to quit school and pursue design full-time =)

  • This was fresh. Ryan, you have mad skills.