Ryan Scheuer – on Instagram, you can find him as @sauce.design – is a designer and developer, currently based in Philadelphia, USA. He previously worked as a director of digital design and web development at Kristian Kirk. Ryan is interested in many different areas of digital technology and the web and although his work is varied and mixed, his style is recognizable, bold, futuristic, and full of vibrant colors. We got in touch with him on Instagram and Ryan was very happy to answer a couple of our questions about the COVID-19 era, music, and his creative process. Also, check out his web Spiritual Engineering with helpful creative resources and tools.
♫ While reading, you can listen to some of Ryan’s favorite songs ♫
∎ Thank you very much for this interview. For the beginning, where are you know and how was your day?
Thank YOU! 🙂 I’m currently at my desk in my bedroom in Philadelphia, USA. My day was honestly pretty lazy. Just ran some errands in the morning with my GF and drew some letters in the afternoon. Not bad for a Saturday!
∎ Has your creative process changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Totally. I’m used to working out in public, in coffee shops, restaurants, parks, etc, and around other people. I used to find inspiration organically while just walking around to different places in between work sessions. I feel like now I have to make a more conscious effort to find inspiration in the spaces around me. I’ve been going on more dedicated walks to explore my city and all of the amazing visual stimuli it has to offer. As for working around others, that’s still basically not possible. My online life has grown significantly, and I’ve been relying on my friends on Discord to give me that creative push when I need it :).
One big change I’ve noticed in myself is that I change what kind of creative work I do more often. Since I’m always in my bedroom working, I often get bored of the work I do just from staring at the screen for hours. Switching up tasks every few hours has been a huge shift in the process for me. I’m typically one to obsess over the same project for the entire day. Since COVID-19, I’ve been playing more guitar, reading a LOT more, and messing around with a large printer I got recently. Sometimes a quick guitar break can give me that „brain reset“ needed to solve a particular problem.
∎ How do you keep yourself busy during these times – physically and mentally? What do you do besides work?
I like going on walks in my neighborhood and long bike rides if I’m stuck mentally/physically. Sitting at my desk all day can seriously hurt my eyes and back after a while! I also have a little moped that I ride around when the weather permits. It’s fun to just zone out and focus all of my attention on dodging cars and going fast in the city.
The line between „work“ and hobbies for me has been blurred since COVID-19 started. Most of my other hobbies are in some way related to design or programming. My main personal projects revolve around a Discord server I started back in May called ECCO. It’s a great community of fellow type designers, artists, and cool people who help each other out and talk about life. It’s a huge time suck for me, but I love it.
∎ What do you mean by your motto on Instagram: “Spiritual engineering & design from the 5th world”, please can you elaborate on these two terms?
Both terms are just phrases I think are cool. „Spiritual Engineering“ is a title of a book I found in the Whole Earth Catalog. Don’t know much about the book itself, but I liked it so much that I made a little information-sharing website inspired by the catalog titled Spiritual Engineering. I think the first time I encountered the phrase „5th world“ was on the subreddit „r/5thworldpics„. It’s just a bunch of weird images that supposedly come from this fictional type of place „5th world“, which is an extension of the Nth-World nomenclature we use to (questionably) categorize countries. No real relation to my work in general, I think I make 0-World images.
∎ Are you listening to music while creating/working? Do you find it helpful for your creative process?
Yes and no! Sometimes I begin work without music and then realize 4 hours later that I’ve been sitting in total silence! Other times, I will put on a playlist or radio station and kinda use that energy to guide my work. Sometimes I just listen to really fast music if I want an energy boost. It all depends on my mood/ if I even remember to open Spotify or something. I have found that it’s almost impossible for me to do programming while listening to music. In those cases, I try to play super minimal ambient artists like Gaussian Curve or lo-fi house tracks. The more repetitive the better! For my music selections here, I chose a bunch of my all-time favorite tracks. Some of these are great for working, some of them are just fun to ride bikes to! Hope you enjoy listening 🙂
∎ With some artists, musicians, rappers for example, when they’re creating and recording a new album, they usually don’t listen to other rap songs, in their genre, to not be influenced by other rappers. Are you also trying not to look frequently at other contemporary visual artists and graphic designers?
Again, yes and no! Most of my friends are designers of some sort, so we send stuff back and forth to each other constantly. I’m definitely influenced by their work and they push me to be more creative and find new ideas. I also like to often parody modern graphic design trends & pop culture stuff. I’d say at the very least, I’m extremely aware of my peers‘ work. I try to avoid Instagram while I’m working, though. I’ve recently turned off notifications for the app, and it’s been super helpful for my monkey brain ? to stay focused on my own stuff. I will say that I am totally influenced by past artists‘ work of all mediums. I’m a huge fan of Paul Laffoley, John C. Lilly, and Don DeLillo.
∎ What do you think it’s important and valuable for the graphic designer, or visual artist today, what would you advice young student of visual communication or graphic design?
I think the most important thing for graphic designers today is to have fun with it. Make memes, do logo ripoffs of big corporations, pirate my fonts if you choose to. Do whatever makes you happy. Sometimes the best work comes out when you are just messing around aimlessly in Photoshop for 5 minutes. I was never a design student, so I don’t have a lot of advice to give in that specific area. My biggest bit of advice to students, in general, is to go to every class and get close with your professors. Go to office hours! Use every resource your school has to offer. If you don’t go to school, use every resource the internet has to offer (which is every resource).
Questions: Krištof Budke