This week’s interview is with our creative director – Sinan Imre. Sinan talks about founding the studio with Tamara and how he balances his design vision with the clients’.
I take pride in both the quality and quantity of custom emojis I have created for our Slack workspace.
Hey there, I’m Sinan! I was born in Turkey, and moved to Greece at the age of 8 until graduating high school. It was there that I began making animated music videos on Macromedia Flash (R.I.P.) and ultimately decided to pursue a career in visual art and design. In keeping with the westward trend, I moved to New York City 11 years ago to study Communication Design at Parsons the New School for Design. Soon after graduating, I was lucky enough to work alongside talented digital designers around the time web was noticeably gaining on print. I suppose you could say I was taught design fundamentals and print, and learned digital out of necessity, curiosity, and practice.
If I’m not at Simpatico, I’m most likely playing bass, cooking, watching soccer (go NYCFC!) or kickin’ it with my cat, Cheddar (see below).
What’s your typical day at Simpatico like? What are some of your duties?
As Creative Director, my duty is to lead all ideation and execution of creative work, and to provide the guidance qualities to maximize the creative talents of the team.
Now that the boring corporate answer is out of the way, let me give you the real answer.
I don’t want to get meta this early, but days at Simpatico are typically atypical. I enjoy knowing that I may find myself in an ad-hoc brand brainstorming session (where no whiteboard is spared), stay for a late night design session with Corey, learn about an obscure board game from Evan, or dogsit Lucy or Pretzel if Tamara or Bruce need to step out for a minute.
I love lists, and you’ll find no less than two on my desk at any given time. Every Monday, I update my weekly to-do whiteboard which has a permanent spot next to my monitor. Daily to-do’s go in the notebook, and post-its are for ongoing project tasks. It helps when you have to constantly jump back and forth between actually doing the work and managing the project.
I’ve grown to enjoy early mornings — if I can, I like spending an hour before the day starts to try out a late-night idea for a project, spend time on an Instagram post, design creative for our blog, put on my project manager hat and update all active clients, read an article, etc. before picking up one of my lists where I left off.
The people I work with are some of the most creative and interesting folks I’ve met. We have a wide range of skills between us and an understanding for each other’s strengths and disciplines. All this makes it hard to define my role as Creative Director, because everything I do comes out of that collaboration and the energy in the studio.
Why did you decide to start Studio Simpatico with Tamara?
It came down to two things: Luck and Tamara’s general awesomeness. I had met Tamara a few years before Simpatico was born, when I was the in-house Creative Lead at SocialCode. I was working on a brand redesign which included a website, and I met Tamara when she became our contracted developer for the project.
My next professional move was to freelance, and I worked with Tamara quite a bit during that time. Between hopping around to meetings in all corners of the city (on one occasion we showed up wearing the exact same outfit) to working sessions at our office (read: Tamara’s house), we quickly built a great working relationship on top of our friendship, so creating a studio seemed like a natural next step.
Most who live in New York can relate to a love/hate relationship with the city. Well, I was feeling more of the latter when Tamara floated the idea of what would later become Simpatico. So I went on a two-week hiatus, and returned with a drive and excitement that I still feel when I sit at my desk every day. That coffee meeting was the start of Simpatico and the rest is history.
How do you balance your clients’ wants versus your own design vision?
This can be tough, because we want to address a challenge with what we believe is the right solution, but we also want our clients to leave happy and satisfied. Our goal is to solve a brand challenge, and it’s important to communicate that our vision doesn’t come from personal preference, but rather from a thoughtful consideration of what’s right for the brand. For us, this often means stepping out of our comfort zones and leaving personal visual styles behind. In the past I’ve defined it as being the Gary Oldman of design. Seriously, do you even know it’s him in half of his roles?
Ideally, we aim to frame our design decisions within the context of the problem we are tasked with solving. That way, any discrepancy between our clients’ wants and our vision becomes a discussion that ultimately takes us one step closer to the right solution.
In the midst of this problem-solving process, we also try to stay transparent and in communication with our clients. I don’t mind sharing half-baked ideas, sketches, or examples early on, and involving our clients in that blue-sky thinking phase. In the end, it’s not our vision vs. our client’s vision. It’s a collective vision vs. the challenge.
What’s your favorite type of design style to work with? Your favorite kind of client or business subject to design for?
Given the previous answer, I really don’t have a visual style that I prefer. I tend to gravitate towards a bold, high-contrast aesthetic, and I probably couldn’t tell you why. I like systems and structure so designing product UIs always seem to spark joy. It also gives me an excuse to see if there are any new Sketch plugins to try out.
While I don’t have an affinity for designing for a certain industry, I love larger projects where we can be involved early in the brand articulation phase and take it all the way to a website or product. I stand by a user/goal-oriented approach to all facets of design. I’ve probably asked myself, “why is it here and who is it for” more than I’ve hit Cmd+S, and that’s a lot. So to be able to articulate a brand with a client, and be there for its growth and application is something that I always look forward to.
Besides design work, what is your favorite task to do at Simpatico?
I take pride in both the quality and quantity of custom emojis I have created for our Slack workspace. Generally speaking, I feel at home in any of our Slack channels, where gifs and memes are most welcome. So it’s only natural that like any homeowner, I want to give it a bit of a personal touch.