We whackjobs at Paper Darts know a thing or two about side projects, about fitting a hearty web publishing schedule around a full-time “real job.” That's just one of the reasons that we love Tilman Zitzmann and his Tumblr, Geometry Daily. Every day Tilman posts an original design, a geometric composition assembled digitally and diligently between his agency work at The Warriors of the Light, teaching gig at the University of Applied Sciences, and his duties as a dad. In short, he’s one impressive S.O.B. and you should follow his beautiful blog, stat.
Paper Darts: You have a really robust “About” page that answers every easy question we could possibly ask you. (Why geometry? Why analog paper and dirt? What is your process?) What is one question you wish more people would ask?
Tilman Zitzmann: The question I would like to hear is “Why do I find this simple combination of lines and shapes beautiful?”
I find an endless beauty just in the way geometry works and I want to share it. It feels like geometry has only a small set of rules, yet it creates so much complexity that we will never be able to see even a small fraction of what is possible.
And it is reliable. Take any triangle and you will be able to draw exactly one circle through all three corners. This is true here and on the moon and it will be in a million years.
If our world is constructed on these thoughtful, simple, reliable and beautiful rules, there must be a god, no?
PD: It was wonderful to see you bring up the idea of “flow” in relation to the creation of this artwork. When working as a paid designer with clients, do you ever have to “cut yourself off” from that feeling of flow in order to make a deadline or achieve the focused, specific needs of that client?
TZ: Of course. Anybody who works creatively knows that “flow” and “trying to solve a specific problem” does not match all the time. Still we need to search for the flow or we will not be doing our best.
PD: Looking at your process, Geometry Daily is comprised of so much more than quick sketches. You do a lot to simulate the print process and add texture to give each piece a bit of analog allure. Does this project provide an escape from your work for The Warriors of the Light, or does it inform it?
TZ: I’m happy to say that Geometry Daily informs a lot of my client work. Mostly because the Warriors of the Light take pride in their creative and innovative solutions. It matches beautifully.
PD: Speaking of The Warriors of the Light, you took a year off recently to spend more time with your children. How did your design sensibilities change with a year spent away from the agency world?
TZ: Again I realized that there is such a great world outside the “designer bubble.” So many people who use designed matter every day but have an entirely different perspective on these things as the designers. It’s liberating, because I saw that there are many other things that are at least as important as design. And it motivated me again to work for “real” people, not just my agency peers.
PD: What is the most important piece of wisdom you hope to impart to your students when teaching interactive design?
TZ: Look closer.
It will make you a better designer if you constantly look at your work and the work of others in detail and from every perspective possible.
PD: Your color choices are so fresh and unique. Are you inspired throughout the day by combinations you spot in real life? Or is it more of an intuitive process once find once you sit down to work?
TZ: It is a very intuitive process. There are many rules to create a harmonious color palette but currently I like to skip them all. I find a lot beautiful combinations through randomness. Then I choose intuitively what feels right to me. Many times colors and combinations remind me of something in the real world—that helps to choose.
PD: Your sentiment on why you are drawn to minimalism moved us. Do you feel that there will be a rise in geometry used in design over the course of the next few decades to combat the overload of images we face every day?
TZ: I am sure! Because it is already happening. The rejection of “skeuomorphism” and the rise of “flat design” in web and application design is exactly that: Minimalism. Simple, clear, reduced. This will naturally lead to geometric shapes.
PD: When will it be time to quit Geometry Daily? (Hopefully not at #365!)
TZ: 2012 had 366 days, so 365 was never an option! I hardly scratched the surface of what is possible with Geometry Daily. There is no way to stop now.
PD: If you were commissioned to do an over-the-top portrait of a celebrity (living or dead), who would it be and how would you pull it off?
TZ: I would choose Max Bill and try to recreate his face with as few colored geometric shapes as possible!
PD: Pick one: ability to fly or ability to breathe underwater.
TZ: As that a trick question? Have you ever used Google Earth or Google Maps? How could anybody be not fascinated by our planet seen from the top? Breathing underwater pales in comparison.
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