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AMA: Veerle Pieters of Veerle's blog & Duoh!

almost 4 years ago from , Chief of the playground at Duoh!

I’m Veerle Pieters, a graphic/web designer based in Deinze, Belgium who runs her own design studio Duoh! with my partner Geert Leyseele. People in the field might know me from my blog on veerle.duoh.com or my Inspiration Stream.

I’ve started as a freelance graphic designer in ‘92, working on print design. Then later, from the early days of the Internet I moved into webdesign and GUI design. Ever since I’ve done a lot of different kinds of projects in the field of webdesign, and graphic design in general, including illustration work as well.

Besides my passion for design, I’m also addicted to cycling. I go out on the bike about 3 times a week exploring the country side. Cycling is my way to clear my head and recharge myself. It keeps me fresh and energised, ready to jump on the next creative challenge. During my cycling adventures I regularly take photos to post on Instagram

You can ask me any question about work, life, my passion,… and I’ll try to answer them as honestly as I can :)

25 comments

  • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, almost 4 years ago

    Your work is always so colorful. What's your process for working with color?

    2 points
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      I don’t have a strict methodology. So it’s pretty hard to add a practical explanation to this as I always choose my colors very intuitively. Though there are few guidelines that I know usually work well. I start from 2 colors that contrast well. To put very simply, colors like blue and green, or red and yellow, or complimentary colors like purple and yellow. Then I ‘build’ my palet from these 2 primary colors. Usually the secondary ones are derived from these 2. They often have a lighter or darker hue, or they can be less bright. The 2 primary ones stick out the most. If it’s for a web site or app, I make sure one of the 2 is good as a highlight color. That one needs to stick out well, it can be a bright color or a darker color compared to the rest of the design. If I’m having trouble choosing the first 2 colors, and I have no idea in which direction I would go, I usually browse my Inspiration Stream, or I go experimenting a bit with photos on Adobe Color For me that is a last resort, because I usually go bananas if I start playing around here :) I tend to end up with so many options, and I usually feel a bit overexposed :)

      I guess I’m mostly influenced by the way I look at things. Whether it’s design, art, objects, nature, etc. I look in a way that I see colors, shapes and compositions. Hope this helps and answers your question.

      3 points
  • Colin DevroeColin Devroe, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Veerle!

    11 years ago on your blog you asked people to submit their work space. I commented and showed mine (which still appears to work on your blog!). So, I'm going to ask that you return the favor 11 years later!

    Here is mine (at home) as of 7 December.

    Colin Devroe's Home Workspace

    The photo appears sideways for no apparent reason and rather than try to fix it I thought I'd just leave it that way for fun. You can load the file full here.

    I also have a dedicated spot at Coalwork (a coworking space I co-own) but I don't have an updated photo of that.

    2 points
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      Haha! That is a post from the pre-historical phase of the internet :) But still a good idea, as I find a good inspiring working environment so important. I even have a Flickr group about just that.

      So here's mine, as of December 11th (evening already here): my workspace

      2 points
  • Mohsin NaqiMohsin Naqi, almost 4 years ago

    Been a fan of your work since 2006 Veerle (oh boy, I fee old).

    Don't you think your blog looks a little dated design wise? (though I do like it for nostalgic reasons)

    1 point
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      Oh wow, that’s from the very early days! Thanks for that, much appreciated.

      It’s been around for a long time but I don’t think it looks dated that it sticks out in a ‘lipstick on a pig’ kinda way. Sure it’s old and it’s time for something new. Code wise it’s a dinosaur. Honestly it’s always a struggle to keep posting good content or not post anymore and create something new. It’s not a small task to start with as I also want to change the CMS. That means I have to learn that as well. I already had a redesign ready in Photoshop but I never implemented it code wise. I like to keep the old designs around for historic reasons. It’s a loss that so many things don’t go to go some kind of digital archive. I know of the Wayback machine, but sites stored there aren’t flawlessly archived. Keeping the old ones around means that you need a good SEO strategy so you don’t lose what you’ve earned over the years etc. It’s not easy doing this all while working for clients and still doing my bike riding too. I need that as I don’t want to get another burn-out. Anyway I’ll bite the bullet in 2016 and hope I can create something nice. No pressure :)

      2 points
  • Danelle BaileyDanelle Bailey, almost 4 years ago

    Veerle, just wanted to hop in and thank you for your contributions throughout the years!

    1 point
  • M. AppelmanM. Appelman, almost 4 years ago

    erf

    What you think of the new Saxo training kit?

    1 point
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      I like it, it’s better than the camouflage one. As you might know i like geometric designs :) Only the typeface isn’t something I would use. It serves the purpose of the owner well in ‘getting noticed’ :) Wouldn’t wear it personally though as I’m more a fan of subtleness.

      0 points
  • Jason FleitzJason Fleitz, almost 4 years ago

    From starting out as a graphic designer who worked on print to the type of projects you work on today, could you speak to how your design process has evolved over the years? What has changed? What has remained the same?

    1 point
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      I guess the biggest change in IMHO is the way I search for inspiration or resources. I used to only look into design books and magazines ala Print, How magazine and Communication Arts. Now there is a wealth of resources online. To learn new things, you needed to go to evening school and such, now you hop online and follow an online course or all those free tutorials. The sharing community wasn’t around. The other things that changed is that things became much more technical. The amount of learning and the speed of how it evolves is overwhelming. I still design in Photoshop (not a fan of designing in the browser as I feel it limits my creativity), but I don’t go all the way as in working out every page into detail. Once I have the basic look & feel nailed down, I switch to coding. Before, I would work out forms etc. Of course the set of tools at your disposal are also quite different from years ago. The basic things such as choosing typography and colors etc. remains the same.

      0 points
  • Max LindMax Lind, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    Hey Veerle, thanks for joining us! :)

    • What's your take on using tools like Webflow to design and build websites? (as compared to a workflow where you write the code)
    • Your Twitter feed is a great mix of design tutorials, inspiration, resources, etc... who do you like to follow for similar things?
    • (For the bike beginners)... any recommendations on bike styles/brands?
    1 point
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      I’m not a big fan of tools that do or try to do everything for you. I feel there’s always some kind of trade-off. I tend to see services like Webflow for prototyping or if I need to get something really quickly done because there isn’t much budget. I haven’t used it yet, but usually the coding output isn’t what I would code myself. I started out with coding by hand (with World Wide Web Weaver), and later I used GoLive. So maybe I’m influenced by the WYSIWYG apps from then :)

      I follow people that I personally know, and many of them share smart stuff too. Like: Christian Heilmann @codepo8, Smashing Magazine @smashingmag, Adactio Links @adactioLinks, or Russ Weakley @russmaxdesign

      The range of types of bikes these days, plus amount of brands is huge. It all depends on what kind bicycle rider you are, or would like to become if you’re just starting out. For instance when you’re just looking for a classy commuter/leisure bike, I would recommend Achielle. If you’re looking for the adventurous kind like me, I would recommend going for a cyclocross, or gravel bike. With this bike you can do everything: put on bigger tires or road tires, you name it. You can turn the bike into a race bike or go into the woods or hills on gravel etc. As for brands, I personally own a Merckx, Trek and a Ridley. Specialized is also a brand that I hear good things about.

      0 points
  • Benjamin ValmontBenjamin Valmont, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    Any tips on going freelance? Do you feel there is a decent market for Graphic/Web Design in our little country ?

    1 point
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      The biggest tip I can give you, is to make sure you never jump into freelancing right after school. Make sure you have a couple of years of experience first. Preferably in multiple agencies. This way you discover all aspects of the job and you see different approaches. I jumped into freelancing way too soon and I was too naïve. The first 5 years were really tough with as good as no earnings. The competition is hard, but I believe you can stand out from the crowd by finding your niche. It won’t be easy, because there are so many, and it’s so easy to get your portfolio out. When I started there was no Internet and I had to visit companies with my portfolio under my arm. That took huge courage for me to do, as I’m not good at selling myself. Still aren’t :) If you haven’t anything to show, you can always try to work for a good cause and use that as a showcase.

      0 points
  • Brandon KellyBrandon Kelly, almost 4 years ago

    Hey Veerle :) Can you tell us about your tools? I know things end up in Illustrator, but I'm curious if you start your process on paper, or if any other tools are involved? Are you thinking about trying the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil?

    1 point
    • Veerle PietersVeerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      Sure :) For certain things like logos or ideas for illustrations I always start out on paper. I have a bunch of sketch books laying around, but with new beautiful ones I always have a certain fear of the white canvas, scared of spoiling the perfect white space :) There is some kind of pressure for perfection, like doodling is not good enough. Strange I know.

      My main tools are still Photoshop and Illustrator, sometimes InDesign as well, when I need to work for print. I need to try out the whole range of new tools from Adobe on the iPad. I have a Wacom tablet that I only use in specific cases, so it’s not connected every day to my Mac. The iPad Pro sounds very tempting, especially with all the raving reviews I read about the Pencil, but the question is ‘do I really need it?’ :) When I end up in an Apple shop I’ll certainly check it out and try to draw something.

      As for web design I immediately start in Illustrator, doing some wire framing if needed, never on paper. I’ve known Illustrator since the beginning, so it’s like 2nd nature to me. That’s probably why I’ll never change to another app.

      1 point
  • Tom SiodlakTom Siodlak, almost 4 years ago

    Hi Veerle, I just wanted to thank you because you were one of my biggest influences when I was in high school and throughout college. Even before I knew I could pursue a career in design and ultimately work for myself in design and development like I do now :)

    1 point
    • Veerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      Oh thank you for those very nice words! I know I reach people, but I actually don't stand still by things like this. That's what I try to accomplish, inspire people to go chase their dreams and passion. I'm happy to hear you succeeded in doing this. I always believed in sharing what I know, even when people told me that I was crazy to do so in the very early days of blogging. They always said that the competition would take all work away :)

      0 points
  • Sagi ShrieberSagi Shrieber, almost 4 years ago

    Hey Veerle, love your work. Been following and sharing your posts since 2010 :) So... what's your best tips for a designer-blogger? and, if you're willing to share, what was your most well-exposed post of all times? :) Thanks a lot and keep inspiring us :)

    0 points
    • Veerle PietersVeerle Pieters, almost 4 years ago

      Thanks for that :) Design wise, think about typography as they create visual hierarchy and contrast. White space, so there is enough breathing room. Don’t try to overthink it as that sometimes happens with all of us. If you doubt try to subtract something and see if it still works. One of the harder parts of design is picking the right colors. I’ve touched on that subject earlier in the questions here. But the absolute toughest one is creating great content that people want to read and keeping that going for many years because there isn’t a magical formula to get noticed. It’s persistency that is the secret sauce. Write about what you know and try to keep it understandable for everybody. I have no idea what my most exposed post is, but I bet it’s a tutorial like this one about geometric patterns in Illustrator.

      I’ll try :)

      0 points
  • andrew korf, almost 4 years ago

    Hey Veerle

    As a longtime fan and fellow cyclist I wonder if you'd be game to share feedback on a side project we are getting out into the world in 2016: pedalr • a better marketplace for people who love bikes (www.pedalr.com)? I will send a you a link directly as we're not quite ready to share it with the world.

    0 points