Wednesday, August 29, 2012

BEHIND THE PEN: James Bruno (Jeiji)

by Tina

Okay, we're going to change things up just a little bit today and rather than interview a photographer we're going to interview a graphic artist.   James is also a part time photographer, but it is his artwork that caught my eye first.  James, also known by friends as Jeiji, designed my photography logo that you can see here (Tina Case Photography) and also at the very end of this post.  I had a self-made logo for a while when I was on a tight budget.  I finally decided to invest in a professionally designed logo now that my business is getting firmly established and I wanted to convey a more professional appearance.

After a thorough and well-thought out interview with me, James camedesigned my new logo based on what he learned and you can read about that process and outcome here on our sister blog, Parent Grapevine.  For those of you just starting out, or even for those of you with a long-time photography business, when was the last time you really looked at your logo?  Does it convey what you want about you, your business and your style?  The world of graphic artists is amazing to me because their designs come fully from the inside, what they see, how they interpret things and out it pours from hand to page.  There are similarities with photography and design.

By the way, James has a very minimalistic style - he loves to create pieces that convey a meaning in the simplest way possible.  You will find that he likes to do that in his answers also.   He is a man of few words but with BIG impact.  Herewith, our interview with James Bruno:
Your Name: James Bruno
Your studio/business name: Jeiji
Location: San José
Twitter: @Jeijisan
Other: Soundcloud:

Your Style

In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your design?


Are you self-taught or classroom trained?

I am a hybrid of both. I gained most of my experience doing horrible freelance work in high-school and learning from those mistakes. Then, as I improved, I was nearing college, and decided to take classes.

How many years have you been a professional designer?

To be honest, I find it hard to separate my novice years from my more advanced years, and still also find it hard thinking of myself as a “professional”. Not because I don’t feel competent as a designer, but because I hold a high standard for myself. There are also so many “professional” “designers” out there who mimic and follow trends, claiming their worth, and passing themselves off as specialists in a craft they don’t even know any history of, so that they can simply get paid. These types are all around me and other truly driven designers who have a passion for creating strong conceptual and individual art. When I can easily  stand out from amongst that ilk, paint the walls of my mind with infallible design principles and concepts, and turn out nothing but pure genius, will feel comfortable with calling myself a “professional” designer.

Where do you want to take your design business in 5 years?

Honestly, I’d like to try my hand at creative/art direction. Maybe starting my own firm and collaborating with other passionate artists and creatives.

Is there a designer who inspires your style?  Who would that be?

I know he may not be in the history books, but the first designer who came to mind was Anthony Lane ( I always had a natural tendency to make minimal designs, but his work has always inspired me to get simpler, and make a stronger statement. I wouldn’t say I emulate his style, but it influences me.

Favorite location to design?

My room. I need distractions and noise to design, so having the flexibility to turn on video games, leave my materials inside and walk outside for inspiration, and even talk to my other creative housemates is a major bonus for me.

Favorite vacation spot?

My room. I am not big on travelling, but I think I should change that. Where would I LIKE my favorite vacation spot to be? Definitely somewhere in Japan with life, but close enough to nature to get away.

Your Business

What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a designer?

There really wasn’t one. Design has been in my blood since the age of 6, before I even knew what it really was. Branding to be specific. And ever since then, I’ve always craved progress and improvement.

What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you?

Work hard and show off. That part where it says “Work hard...”? Most people forget/skip that, and expect to be able to show off something that should’ve seen more critique and time. I also am a perpetrator of this, and it makes me sick sometimes.

If you do this right, when you show off, your work will spread like wildfire, and those who admire will flock to you for business.

What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you?

“...Yeah, I was thinking more like $50.”

Favorite print lab?

A place in Downtown SJ called “Plotter Pros”. They are reasonably priced, and have great customer service.

Your Gear

Are you Canon or Nikon?

Canon. But as pertaining to design tools, I use Illustrator most.

If you could only have one utensil to design with, what would it be?

A mechanical pencil with a twist eraser. Trusty trusty Pentel.

What brand bag do you carry your laptop in?

Booq. The Cobra Pack.

What gear would we find in your bag?

Laptop, many Pentel twist-erase mechanical pencils, micron pens, sharpies, a not-quite molskine sketchbook, graph paper, metal ruler, scalpel, nook, 3-way headphone jack splitter...

 Are you a pencil sketch or pen sketch fan?

Pencil. But that might change, because I am learning that if I sketch with a pen, I am forced to make my concepts work. I can’t just erase the things I don’t like.

Are you PC or Mac?


Your Tips and Tricks

What post processing tools do you use?

Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop.

Best advice you would give your 20-year old self?

Stop designing so much, and read about it instead.

Best advice you would give a new designer?

You’re terrible. The faster you get that in your head, the faster you’ll find the stones in your path and begin to improve.

What Else Should We Know?

What was your worst design experience?

When I was young, and moving fast... I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I kept cranking out horrible designs.without giving a second thought to it. When I looked back at it a week later, I was at a pretty low low.

What would surprise people most about you, whether it is design related or not?

I speak tid-bits of Russian, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, Gaelic, and USED to speak French. But I got bored of it.

Tell us something else you’d like us to know:

Me and Jesus? We’re like this: || 

And just because we want to know you, fill in the blanks

Three things I can’t live without….

God’s grace, food, and creativity.

I wish I had more…..


The best thing about being a designer is…

Getting paid to grow.

The most important lesson I ever learned was….

Do what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it, to the best of your abilities. Hardest thing anyone can do.

My favorite time of day is…


And lastly, here's a peek at one of several logos he created for me.  I have several layouts depending on the use (stationery, business cards, website, labels, etc.).  What I love about the logo is he was able to include so many elements in very subtle ways.  First, if you look closely the shape of the image is an abstract heart.  That was the one design element I asked him to incorporate.  James knows that I have 5 members in my close-knit family and that is subtly represented by the five lines in the logo, the fewest straight lines needed to represent a heart. My family supports me in everything I do and are behind my creative endeavors.  The colors chosen are my favorite, chocolate brown and contrasting blues and greens.  And the fun element is the lines are another abstract design that conveys the metering and exposure compensation in a camera.  Something a professional photographer can appreciate.  So here's one look, you can see more variations here.

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