Jon: On this episode of Well-fed I'm super excited today because I get to talk to you a good old friend of mine Vincenzo Vin Conti designer, illustrator, typographer, amazing all-around good guy. We've known each other for a while now. He is currently a designer at WeWork on the team We are Lunch Money or Lunch Money and yes Vin thank you for chatting with me today.
Vin: Thanks for coming and welcome to my apartment.
Jon: As ****I said I'm really excited because we've known each other for so long. I think one of my first internships was at the nightclub that we both worked at when I was a shit little marketing intern tracking down tweets and you were the designer there so stoked to talk about that. How's your new year been since it started?
Vin: Very busy. I get to travel I get to go to Charlotte North Carolina.
Jon: For what?
Vin: For WeWork. I have to do an installation and paint a mural. I mean it's not an exotic land but I'm excited nonetheless.
Jon: Way better weather than New York right now.
Vin: Yes, I don’t know what it’s going to be like there may be like 60/70 better.
Jon: I am kind of like getting in that mode of sort of depressed because of the winter and it's dropped like 20 degrees here and I don't like last year for some reason I thought it was so much happier like I was like okay it's staying in on the weekend and kind of just chilling and reading a book or watching Netflix. But now I'm like it's so cold that my apartment windows are so shittily sealed that like oh yes even it seeps into the room and I'm just like freezing.
Vin: There's never a draught anymore it's like a breeze [laughter]
Jon: So, we first met at Pacha summer of like I don't know 2011/2012.
Vin: I was living an upstate in Plattsburgh I remember where I got the job at the end of that summer.
Jon: Before Pacha before you were designing there, did you have any other positions or any other gigs?
Vin: I had a small little thing that wasn't like full-time but it was in Poughkeepsie where I grew up.
Jon: What was it?
Vin: It was for like a non-profit we used to do design and like web design for nonprofits it's called Mark and Phil.
Jon: Did you dig web design front-end design?
Vin: No. It was good that I did it because I you know I got the introduction to that and I realized I did not like it. I mean I'm glad I did it I learned a lot like a lot of stuff I've really had no idea about but is good but in the long run did not want to do web design.
Jon: I kind of wanted to ask that because now you're doing something totally different where you're not doing any web, you're not doing any kind of digital work or digital in that kind of coding sense. So, you left Mark and Phil how did you end up a Pacha?
Vin: Oh, I was doing like really weird freelance stuff. I would charge like 50/60 bucks for like flyers at like in Poughkeepsie for like kids like deejaying in basements. It was just like an introduction there like I make there 50 bucks here and there and somebody like was playing the basement show and in Pasha and Pauly was like “Who did your flyer it’s sick?” And then he like two reached out to me and he was like “I saw your stuff you should come work for like Pacha?” At the time I was like oh shit Pacha.
Jon: Yes big New York Club.
Vin: So, that was cool it was just a super random I designed something for $50 and I got a job in New York City; it was really random.
Jon: And for people who are listening who don't know Pauly is at the time was the kind of head designer there I would say big inspiration to me.
Jon: He was there for pretty much the whole campaign of Pacha which is like 10 years doing design and anything in between that promoting, playing music, DJing so shout out to Pauly. So, he just kind of found you and sent you an email?
Jon: Did you move from Poughkeepsie to New York?
Vin: Yes, I was living in Plattsburgh that's why with the college and like all my buddies were up there is like awesome like basically summer camp one last hoorah before like got my shit to get there and I got the job and move down to like the Bronx really cheap apartment.
Jon: Yes, I got a $500 room. I got like four walls a window and I can like draw all day when I'm not working.
Vin: I lived with a guy that washes pots and pans in the bathtub [laughter] everybody starts somewhere.
Jon: Dude start from the bottom. What were the things that or the tasks that you were doing at Pacha?
Vin: there's a lot of cutting like masking out like ladies and like plants--
Jon: The scandalous nightclub artwork.
Vin: Yes, all the Flyers are it's such a funny type of design because all the DJ's like want their photo to be the biggest, their logos to be the bigger you know it's like it's super funny because they all have themed parties so that part was like super fun. But it was a lot of like Pauly realized that I could do lettering like that was like the beginning of me like dabbling in that. So, I got to do that a lot which is awesome it wasn't like I was just like you know moving pixels around until something look good. I was actually being like creative and custom.
Jon: I remember some of the like smaller things I think about and those are some of the coolest things like the wristbands and you're doing the big tarps outside of like the festivals fences and stuff like those were some those are some really awesome things because like there was no one that was the creative like official that was saying no right like it is you know Andrew and Rob and James you know rest in peace. They wanted just something that looked awesome and they really didn't have any like care in the world as long as it's big and kind of cool.
Vin: Big bright. I had to do something really quick really quick it would be like you know someone so and so is attached to the bill now then we have to get something like you have to add like a whole other thing it would be like a day or two then be like a quick like start over. But it was like this stuff I'm Arden to actually turn things around quick and be confident in your work that was huge.
Jon: You said that like Pauly had just started he realized that you were doing lettering and stuff like that was that stuff that you're doing outside of work that kind of caught his eye or was this stuff that you were looking at the time that you were just super inspired by?
Vin: Yes, it was just work outside of Pacha it was like I would look at tutorials and like read books about just fonts and letters it was super just I don’t know I'm was super interested in letters.
Jon: For sure. I think back and remember well I remember so clearly like one of the days I was in you know marketing in the summer interning we were looking at like dribble that was the shit in the office and we were looking at like these little geometric liquor bottle illustrations. I don't know if you remember that it was like someone did the wax from like the maker's mark or something, I remember like it's super effective because little like squiggly line but it was so recognizable. At the time were there any kind of designer specifically that you were looking taking inspiration from or kind of like anyone that really push you more into the letter for more into typography?
Vin: Yes back in the day was like John Contino but I saw his how like loose he was with his lettering which is what turned me on to drawing way more but then I realized I didn't like it wasn't unfinished but I really liked going the extra step and making it like super crisp vectors. I started like finding tutorials with the students Spencer Charles and like Simon Walker from Texas in Austin and I would just like take their letters and like literally translate over and see where they put anchor points like really nerdy stuff and it just like that helped an incredible amount.
Jon: That's one thing I have such a tough time with is like understanding where the anchor point is like the most correct place to do because like you can get the curve if you had like a million anchor points or you can like add three perfectly placed ones and have the--
Vin: The cleanest curve is like the least amount of anchor points which is a lot of math [laughter].
Jon: During the time of Pacha you were living in the Bronx it's weird because I don't, you're not at like a club house type of guy. What do you usually listen to?
Vin: I mean Pauly really got me into house music, like good deep house which I still listen till to this day, but now it's a lot of like stoner metal like hardcore punk like the same stuff I've been listening since I was like in middle school sure it's almost what mood I'm in really like hip up.
Jon: Is there anything in the kind of the music covers or album covers or anything like that in terms of design that catches your eye that kind of draws you to it as well?
Vin: Yes, it's almost like a judge a book by its cover literally.
Jon: A song.
Vin: Because in my eyes if they focus on the album art a lot and they like really respected design process almost their music is almost better because they appreciate the whole package.
Jon: It's more of a holistic consideration.
Vin: I'm making a song whatever. It's like I want this album art to look like this and be printed like this you know it's like the whole package is great.
Jon: It's also because like a lot of the time now you're not getting a CD or more vinyl's popping up but like the album is going on your phone which is like super clear and crisp and if it looks like shit that can be kind of a bad experience for someone. How long were you at Pacha in total?
Jon: I’d say like two years.
Vin: When did it end?
Jon: I remember I was there so 2012 that summer and I came away from the marketing internship, but I start doing photography there and doing the night shift for photo shows. So, I was still around but like dude I was there for a while. It was kind of like I went to went back to school kind of went quiet for a little bit came back like the following year and there was like this whole shift and you had left.
Vin: Yes, that was the when it turned into rpm so that shift was like it was just, they had to give me like less hours and it just didn't make sense for me to stay there so I left.
Jon: When did you move back up?
Vin: I moved back upstate for a year or two and then I worked back at that Marketing in Philanthropy which is the name.
Jon: Oh, mark and Phil I thought it was some cheap--
Vin: Everyone is like “Who is Mark and Phil?”
Jon: I know there was like Mark and then Phil was like the Phil of color inside of the Mark.
Vin: That would make sense.
Jon: I was trying to really like kind of bring some kind of meaning to it.
Vin: I proposed the logo for them as a joke and it was a Mark Wahlberg's face and Phil Collins next to each other. That was my greatest project.
Jon: Is your family originally from upstate?
Jon: So, kind of you have a family up there you just went back home.
Vin: I grew up like 20 minutes outside of Poughkeepsie.
Jon: I've never been up there, but I mean I've been up there for like the Hudson area the Catskills there it's beautiful.
Vin: It's one of the things I'm like didn't like it when you were there now it's like I need to get out the city.
Jon: Exactly Jersey is sort of I have that same feeling like grew up in Jersey for the most part moved close to the city now and now like you're in the neighborhoods everyone's on top of each other you have this you know it just drives you down. Everyone will tell you that it's just like yes, it's a machine turns you out. Every time I get outside the city it's like it's literally like a relief it's like the biggest breath of fresh air.
Vin: It's wild like when you're camping or something or you're just sleeping outside of the cities you sleep like 80 hours because you're like there's no noise.
Jon: Do you do you kind of imagine yourself being tied to the city and for how long do you think?
Vin: I see myself another two or three years seriously. I want to have like a max and maybe just like change it up and move up to like Vermont or like if I have to come back or it makes sense to come back when you want to but I really want to be at a point where I could freelance.
Jon: I have that same thought like that.
Vin: You don't need to live in the city for that.
Jon: Cutting ties with New York because of how demanding the city is almost. You have to commute in whether that's 30 minutes 40 minutes an hour sometimes is like when I’m doing from Jersey it's two hours. I think now it's more relevant that you can build up kind of a little bit more recognition independently through digital through social all that stuff and kind of work off of that that wave where you don't have to be tied to an office in the city. It's nice it has its perks sure but I think like for the well-being of you and I. I recognized that as well for a while I was like yes, I want to always be in the city. Now I'm like I want to move away I want to have some land maybe set goats.
Vin: Some honey.
Jon: Exactly my god that would be honest that would be sick.
Vin: You know we're lucky we're in the industry that you if you have a Wi-Fi connection you can work under a cave.
Jon: It's awesome and very true. When you went back to Poughkeepsie to kind of move back you work a little bit more Mark and Phil? You freelance for Mark and Phil but did you do any kind of like on the side as well?
Vin: Yes, it was all the same thing. There was like smaller projects. There was one bigger one called the Warlock CrossFit and I'm still doing work for them today. He's allowed me to just like really have fun with it and he's got so many members he's like killing it.
Jon: That's sick.
Vin: It looks really cool and has a good name.
Jon: You're doing the design for it so it's been good.
Vin: Yes, working on it.
Jon: How did you guys come in contact?
Vin: He went to my college shout out to Eric. He went to my high school sorry and he was actually a DJ and he was one of the DJ's I was doing work with like first-first-first like in college he hit me out be like on Facebook. I would post like just shit I was working on. He was one of the first DJ's I got introduced to and then all of his like friends needed work and then they went down to Pasha and-- it’s pretty much like that.
Jon: It's a nice like full circle kind of…
Vin: Looking back at it was like oh that’s how it happened.
Jon: Is there any kind of freelancing obviously you're your own boss and on top of that you're your own accountant your own finance manager like everything. Is there anything that you've learned over the years that you wish you knew kind of when you were younger? If you had to tell someone like an intern like me coming into the creative world like what should I get my shit straight on?
Vin: Just be confident in your work and don't sell yourself short because there was projects I’d be like I only have like 100/200 bucks and I do like a lot of work sure just I wanted to do it and get my name out there, but at the end of the day--
Jon: Like busting your ass.
Vin: Under selling that design side of things it's like unhealthy for our industry.
Jon: I think um it's tough. I think there's like three columns of freelance design when you're doing it for yourself. It's like you do it for fun, do for your friends and you do for fortune. So, fun is like the personal projects that you're like oh I like you see something in the store and you're like I could do that better and that's like your kind of passion project in a sense. Then your friends reach out to you and they're like hey I'm starting this business kind of like I guess Warlock Fitness potentially and you want to support them you really driven the idea. There's also some kind of like gaps in between in that friend's column as well because you're like okay how do I charge this person, but also like not feel like I'm giving my creative away for free my designs away for free right and that's tough.
Vin: When you have to do it when you do for family it's always free.
Jon: Oh yes family. Like my dad he is doing this like online radio thing and I'm kind of like business console and design consulting consultants it's just like you got to give him like a plan to go it and do these things. I would never charge my dad obviously or like any other family members for that matter, but friends are like it's tough I guess do you just chop cost in half at some point.
Vin: It's almost like I have like different tiers it's mostly I'm doing logos and branding work. So, I have like different tiers of the most expensive one would be I'll give you like four or five options and like two rounds edits and you get like a little like secondary branding elements like little badges. Then there's like the low end where it's like I'm going to have two or three options like one round of edits. I'll do that mostly if it's like a good close friend, but also if they have an idea that I'm like super pumped about and I want to see them succeed you don't need to like bust down on your friends for just for like a little bit of like a couple hundred bucks.
Jon: Sure. Getting over into like the fortune wire which is like more professional kind of column and stuff like that I guess like do you end up getting a lot of kind of inquiries about working you know with other people that not necessarily your friends or maybe their referrals or anything like that?
Vin: Maybe not really. I haven't been focusing on freelance that much especially the client side of things. I really would just want to read every book there is because it's so hard to do all the taxes and the finance you out of it that's the scary part. I'm really confident my work now and my portfolio that what I do build it up selling myself will be the fun part and like that work will be great but the finance side is scary.
Jon: Yes. I'm trying to as I mentioned like I'm every year I redo my portfolio and that's kind of like I want to get more professional or like people are reaching out to me because they're like hey I saw this project and I want you do that for me. I have the friends that come to me and I'll try to work together a logo for them or help them anyway but it's like at some point you know as we were just talking I would love to cut my ties and I can't continue to cut my ties to the city and I can't continue to do work for friends to do that. So, it's like now I have to kind of like pull up my pants and be an accountant and all those other things. So, how long was it before you returned to the city or like what was the in between from freelancing to getting back to New York?
Vin: Getting back to New York I was obsessed with Dribble. I posted everything on there and I was doing a lot of stuff just like-- I was working like almost part time at that job up in Poughkeepsie but I would work eight hours a day even if I was making stuff for myself or fake stuff I was just needed to get better I needed to build a portfolio. On Dribble I was following this guy Jeremiah Britton he's now the like the creative lead director of our team. He's got 40 people around the world like on his team and he's an incredible unbelievable person to be under. I contacted him randomly because I saw some stuff that he was posting on Dribble and I was like just reach out to him. I was like what's your day-to-day like there like all the work you're doing is super different and like I've really enjoyed it. He's like “I checked out your portfolio it looks sick you should apply there's like a job on the branding team.” I was like awesome and applied and got the job. It was almost proactive in the way I reached out because I was interested.
Jon: I mean you were obviously putting the work in to kind of build your portfolio and as you said you realize that you kind of needs to get better. Do you remember what was in that portfolio that you showed him?
Vin: Actually, I don’t think it had [Inaudible]
Jon: Was it more like Dribble stuff?
Vin: Yes, there was a lot of like branding and cute illustrations stuff super fun to do but looking back at it you know it's like they're growing thing and I still really appreciate that work.
Jon: Looking back you realize now it's just like it is what it is it's beautiful to look at sometimes, but also at the same time like that kind of showed the work that you really enjoy in a sense.
Vin: Right that was the biggest thing to be it's like I don't just show work because it's like I did it and I'd show work that I want to get clients for sure. So, it's like a lot of lettering it's like put the work out there that you want people to see and want from you. I want to be at a point where people come to me knowing that I do this one specific thing and they asked for it it's not of like you know I need a logo for like Sons Barber Shop.
Jon: How many years on lunch money? You got the job at WeWork.
Vin: Yes, on the branding team.
Jon: On the branding team and what was that? What were you doing?
Vin: Well the company was just like freakishly growing yes just because every week there would be new orientation for the new employees and it'd probably get 100 or 200.
Jon: I feel like you joined very early.
Vin: Yes, I got really lucky it was super random. I was still like a big, but I think when I joined it was only say like seven eight hundred people now it's like six or seven thousand.
Jon: Wow there is popping up at WeWorks.
Vin: They are like in Jakarta, all over Sao Paulo, Bogota in Colombia just everywhere even in Alaska.
Jon: What was some of the early things on the branding team you had to kind of execute?
Vin: There's a lot of like marketing materials but it was really fun because they really liked hand lettering stuff and just things that looked like they were made by humans and not like pumped out of computers which is great. I got to do a lot of like swags like t-shirt designs and everything under the Sun and it was great. Now I see like the vintage t-shirts from three years ago I'm like I designed it and still see people walking around everywhere with them it's really cool.
Jon: I had a thought about that like you know I've seen obviously from when we first met and followed you since I was imagining in my I had a really funny side of the story would have been like you had all of them framed framed up.
Vin: I have all of them in my room.
Jon: Close we're getting there, we're getting there. So, you were on the branding team you eventually switched or did you get like kind of plucked into another department or corner of WeWork?
Vin: Yes the branding team was like kind of fizzled in the sense that it was a branding market team and almost grew to like a public affairs type of thing and then it was just like a little off and there was like new bosses that came in and I just like to switch it up a little like everything. I always wanted to be on the art and graphics team but it was just a perfect time for me to be like I want to move over now because I really wanted to help build out the brand team because it was a brand-new company.
Jon: Well, building of the brand team has turned into the lunch money team now where branding is more so not necessarily like how wework, it looks to like customers or like the inside or the inner workings of wework, you know like the inside the space is like all the offices and things like that.
Vin: That is the brand in my eyes it doesn't have to be like a like a quote on the t-shirt or like a color or a logo like the actual walking through the spaces is a brand in itself and that's huge being a part of the art team that gets to add to these wonderful buildings.
Jon: So, the team kind of consists of a bunch of different designers all kinds of expertise of design from interior to someone like yourself doing more graphic. Some of the designers that I kind of noted through Instagram and through the lunch money account were Brendan Prince, Addie Chong, Bailey Sullivan Joe Geis, Nacho Verone, Rob Alba, Teresa Wozniak and a bunch of other ones obviously you said like there's like 40 worldwide. But it's a hybrid team now that has become the team that defines what the as you mentioned the brand WeWork. The brand experience is walking through and kind of learning about the space.
Vin: Our interior design team is huge and they're unbelievably talented. It's just like they're doing really different furniture choices than like the norm or like West Elm looking stuff you see a lot.
Jon: Mid-century light bright natural lens.
Vin: It's like a hybrid of like 90s like mall and like really high-end furniture design which is like a really cool mix in my opinion because it's like the art that we're doing is so bright and like huge and neon's and really it works like holistically like really perfect.
Jon: You’ve kind of like added to the portfolio a whole lot in this kind of whole career that you've had with WeWork. Like you're nailing you're just doing a million neon's a week like you're doing huge wall murals. There are just all these physical things that like I envy because people are walking past these things and you know they're interacting with them. How awesome is it to design a five by five neon?
Vin: It's so cool that the budget is there to do these kinds of things. Our creative director is amazing he's just he lets us just get weird and he just wants everything that be like super fun like really approachable and cozy.
Jon: What is it that you kind of take into consideration when designing for a space like WeWork? I've walked into a few over the years like maybe two or three and they all feel like really kind of energetic. There's a lot of positive energy it feels like kind of energizing like you kind of just get the sense of like I need to do work here, but is that something that you guys are taking a consideration ahead of time. What does that process look like?
Vin: There's whole teams that are planning like how people want to work? Do they want to sit on a couch all day? Do they do they like having a kitchen area there's a lot of just research behind like what's the best way for people to work and our job is to make it just a really cool looking space but at the same time on a neon we don't usually do them like animated or blinking because it'll disturb people like you know the corner of their eye they see blinking. It’s little considerations like that and we're slowly moving into the way of like planning the spaces so it feels almost like a home and it just feels like cozy and that's all like I'm in office this is like cold.
Jon: Have you had to switch over kind of like I find that every different job I have even if it's a branding job at another branding studio or something like that like my mood boards and my Pinterest boards have had to change to like I could be looking at like a lot of packaging and beverage and consumer products. But then you switch over a job that does branding for something else and that all changes. What are you looking at now?
Vin: I mean I'm so obsessed with just like really raw typography stuff but now it's like I'm just surrounded by artists. Some people on the team like just don't do graphic design they're like they're artists and illustrators and it's like unbelievable switching my brain off from like this needs to look a little gritted out and perfect or clean to like just getting really raw and actually just experimenting with like different Photoshop brushes. We actually paint canvases now.
Jon: I noticed in some of the kind of the team videos and stuff like that yes you guys almost have like a studio for painting canvases and all that. Did it ever cross your mind that your kind of have gone from a designer to having this prolific like fine arts career in some sense?
Vin: It's super weird. I love it because I can like pitch stuff and at the end of the day even if it doesn't get approved like I still got to do some weird art or instead of like actually using the brain colors at every single project you have to use the same font. I do a lot of research on every building that I'm doing so you learn the history about the areas that you're like building these things for and you like bring art into these buildings that are great.
Jon: It's crazy too like I don't want to like jinx anything we're on a wood table so I'm going to knock on it now like. WeWork has popped up all these different buildings all over these areas right. There's at least one WeWork and probably most of the United States and at least one city.
Vin: Yes, these are big cities.
Jon: And chances are you have some piece of work in there. If ever gets to a point where the WeWork building is closed down, they move on to something else like all this art with your name on it’s in the world.
Vin: I was just talking to Brendan about this yesterday like this art is just going to be sitting like especially if they sell building.
Jon: I want to like go to that auction.
Vin: That’s a lot.
Jon: That's the one also one thing I was like man all the secondhand stuff you could probably get from these places would be so sick like deck out your stuff.
Vin: We have giant warehouses of art and furniture. I'd love to just go there and I’ll take this and this.
Jon: Yes, kind of have a very kind of contemporary design interior wherever your apartment is yes that's awesome. I think as I said to realize that you have all this stuff out in the world is amazing. Speaking of kind of not just the United States but you've also been able to travel like internationally and stuff like that.
Vin: Actually, when I joined the team, they got regionalized which was like poor timing because they used to travel and they would go over to Berlin to fly down to Argentina, but now it's a regionalized and I'm out on the East Coast.
Jon: You work with Eric Friedenson EfDot?
Jon: I see him all the time on Insta like traveling and stuff like that.
Vin: He moved down to I think Argentina.
Jon: Oh, he's down there.
Vin: He's back now. He moved down there to build out a team in Latin America.
Jon: Oh shit.
Vin: He killed it.
Jon: That's sick.
Vin: Yes, he's found some amazing artists like Nacho.
Jon: No way.
Vin: Rob Alba all those guys around there they're like situated in Mexico City and they do like in Colombia.
Jon: Are there any places that you wish you were able to have gotten on board with like going across the river?
Vin: Yes, I want to go to Paris and I'm going to get down to it Sydney.
Jon: Can you just like to say I mean I'm sure it probably is a little different because you're regionalizing. You said you're based in the East Coast office. Could you just go work out of Paris and stuff like that for you know for a little bit or something?
Vin: Yes. Our card is just like a global access you just swipe at the door and go in.
Jon: That’s dope and awesome.
Vin: I can use the bathroom in New York City wherever I am.
Jon: Of course, I didn't even think of it as long as there's a WeWork you could just go to the bathroom.
Jon: Wow that's clutch. Was out in like Williamsburg and just stop right off Bedford.
Vin: Yes, go to the bathroom.
Jon: That is dope. You've since moved on from the Bronx you know that five hundred dollars four walls and a window. Did you move anywhere else? What did you say this neighborhood was?
Vin: This is Bushwick.
Jon: This is Bushwick okay.
Vin: We've been here for two years pushing two years. Pushing two years here but then our other apartment we had for a year that was like ten-minute walk.
Jon: You're close to what the F train here?
Vin: The right here is the M and the L crisscross right here.
Jon: The L is shutting down though right? I don't know whether I have a clue what the deal is anymore.
Vin: I don't think it is.
Vin: They're going to do a lot of work and it's going to be slower like on nights and weekends I want to say but I don’t think they’re closing. I've tried to read like 600 articles about it. It was just didn't make sense for the businesses in Williamsburg.
Jon: I was kind of hoping that that would result in lower rents but I don’t know.
Vin: There was some spots. Whoever got the low rent made out like a bandit.
Jon: With this neighborhood is there anything that you kind of realized that you've come to love about it?
Vin: It's growing at a good speed it's not like crazy.
Jon: Bushwick is pretty far from the water. Like Williamsburg is has already been developed there's you know skyscraper is going along the river.
Vin: Blocking out everybody's view.
Jon: 420 Kent you son-of-a-gun.
Vin: Is that the building that has like a bridge?
Vin: That looks like a Soviet Union castle.
Jon: Yes, it's kind of nuts, but I mean driving out here today it feels more cozy like more neighborhood. I mean there I drove through a kind of like industrial warehouse section so like there's that over here but I'm not super familiar with kind of a neighborhood.
Vin: It's quiet enough. I mean we're pretty close to the train it's only a 40 second walk. It's pretty loud because we're just in that hub, but I just love the neighborhood because it's like there's so many like good dive bars and just like the people are like real. It's not everybody walking around wearing Made Well. It doesn’t feel stuffy at all.
Jon: It's not pretentious.
Vin: I think a lot of the people like just remind me of like kids I hung out in high school and college it just feels good out here.
Jon: What are some of the dive bars? I'm trying to like literally this podcast is just a way for me to get a go-to list. So, like whenever I need to, I have like a place that's so super selfish man.
Vin: I think I read somewhere that says there is 18,000 restaurants in New York City and we always frequent like three. It's like the Commodore out in Williamsburg, El Cortez, Old Stanley's.
Jon: I've never been Old Stanley's.
Vin: It is sick it's like you just get like a $4 Tecate and sit in a booth that looks like it hasn't changed and--
Jon: It's got like holes in the leather.
Vin: You feel that like foam.
Jon: Styrofoam you can just pull it out.
Vin: It’s just one of those spots like everybody's the same. There was music playing like really loud like punk hardcore and stuff which is good and cool backyards.
Jon: Cool backyards.
Vin: There is a lot of backyards like this area. Three Diamond Door is an amazing one.
Jon: Three Diamond Door popular spot on the podcast or at least Jeremy shouted it out like the first episode.
Vin: In the summer it’s the spot. You just go grab some beers and sit outside.
Jon: I'm trying to make the move. I'm living out in Jersey City now, my lease is up soon and I'm thinking about making the move to Brooklyn shortly, but I just don't-- like I have a car like Bushwick is not the place for a car.
Vin: Yes, it is. Even if you do Bushwick you're like Ridgewood.
Jon: Ridgewood that's so far. It seems so far sure.
Vin: It is but you have a car.
Jon: I mean like I have a car, but I want to drive anyway.
Vin: I realize I don't need a car. I’ve probably driven maybe like three or four times a year in the last 3 or 4 years.
Jon: How do you get back? You just take the bus like back home or something or train?
Vin: Well my parents moved up to Saratoga now so that's a little longer trip, but when they lived around Poughkeepsie it was just the metro-north straight up to Beacon or Poughkeepsie and then I would take a cab or get pick up. It is super close.
Jon: My parents were moving to like South Carolina now and or North Carolina one of the Carolinas which kind of like cuts my ties to having to no necessarily be grounded to Jersey like now I can really move anywhere it's like no matter what I'm have to fly to visit them.
Vin: For sure.
Jon: So, it's like now I'm considering Brooklyn also just because like I want to say that I'd lived in Brooklyn at one point. I’ve pretty much lived in Jersey since I was a kid I was born in Brooklyn, but I'm here more on the weekends and stuff like that and hanging out here my friends are out here like you're out here. I have people already out here and I should just kind of stop fighting the rent situation. So, one of the things that I want to cover that I thought was really interesting as well I think your kind of maybe correct me if I'm wrong you did this outside of work but you were a part of Type Hike.
Jon: It was a pretty big project in like the design and illustration community. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
Vin: Yes, that project I loved that and that the whole idea of that project was awesome to raise money for national parks because of our dumbass president.
Jon: That was at the time where Trump was revoking kind of funding for--
Vin: It was around the same time.
Jon: Then Patagonia made the big statement that they're trying to-- Patagonia is just a kick-ass brand by the way.
Vin: They are one of those brands that are just like their product is amazing it's made well and it's just like the stuff they’re doing outside of the actual product that they're selling is amazing.
Jon: What was part of the Type Hike project? What did they ask you to do?
Vin: I actually reached out. I found a contact like I think their website is pretty simple, but I had to do it's called the “Alpha Beast”.
Jon: Alpha Beast.
Vin: It was like one letter of the alphabet. You get a letter of the alphabet and the letter corresponds to an endangered species in North America. So, I got that woodland caribou.
Jon: Woodland Caribou.
Vin: We have to pick which is cool.
Jon: You pick the caribou.
Jon: Okay was it like that was one of the only ones left or…?
Vin: I instantly pictured what I wanted to illustrate because the antlers are so enormous. I just pictured some like the symmetry behind it. I had the ideas to really run.
Jon: It just clicked.
Vin: Like winter creatures they are so much better than tropical.
Jon: So, I'm kind of picturing like a larger rodent with a gigantic like a guinea pig like that's what pops my head when I hear caribou but that's obviously you said there's antlers.
Jon: It's a reindeer okay so I'm totally wrong.
Vin: You’re thinking of a capibara.
Jon: Capibara is exactly what I’m thinking of. What happened with the project? So, you did this illustration. Where does it go after?
Vin: They actually printed them really nicely screen-printed and it goes on a tour to like colleges and like art galleries and you can go and check it out.
Jon: So, all the kind of proceeds or profits go towards.
Vin: Yes, that was one of those things I was like I don't want a dime for this it was like I need to be a part of this because it was so cool doing something…
Jon: For the better good?
Jon: Did they give you a copy?
Jon: Okay that's like you need to kind of take an archive of all the projects and whenever possible.
Vin: I love seeing like screen printed work that you actually did in Illustrator.
Jon: Did they give you stats on like which alphabet or which letter was purchased more?
Vin: No crazy stuff.
Jon: You surprised everyone who buys little capybara caribou.
Vin: Capybara caribou.
Jon: So, when you're not when you're not like designing or you're not at WeWork what are you doing? Are you relaxing?
Vin: Yes, I've been drawing a lot. I want to draw every day.
Jon: Is that kind of like a new year's resolution thing?
Vin: New year's resolution cooking more. My girlfriend got me a le creuset set and I started using it for everything.
Jon: I got that same exact one it's so clutch it's beautiful.
Vin: You just cook in it.
Jon: That's the red gradient Dutch oven.
Vin: Weighs 600 pounds.
Jon: Dude you know what as long as like if you're in a street and someone's about to tackle you if you're carrying that they're knocked out.
Vin: Washing it is a workout.
Jon: Yes, it's all worth it. After you have that meal that was cooked inside it.
Vin: Sausage and meatballs.
Jon: Exactly that's literally my go-to thing. You're cooking a lot.
Vin: I've been trying to draw a lot more and it's a lot of like tattooed flash style because at work it's like happy approachable work. When I get home, I draw snakes, skulls and grim reapers.
Jon: You just go completely dark basically.
Vin: I just need to do that like because at work it's all bright colors so just get to the other side to keep balanced.
Jon: I was just going to say it's a good way to balance out a little bit.
Vin: That kind of art is almost like graphic in a way because it's two or three colors, bold lines so I think that's why I'm attracted to it but…
Jon: I agree. The few tattoos I have at first, I thought I was going to do that kind of more traditional style or it's like bold like mono weight kind of line and stuff like that and then I got a few that are all black so now I'm just sticking with that.
Vin: That looks great.
Jon: It's just that nice contrast that kind of sticks out it catches your eye immediately.
Vin: It lasts a really long time.
Vin: Obviously they last because they are a tattoo, but the colors and stay bright for a really long time.
Jon: Sure. You said you mentioned that you are you know you're trying to draw more for New Year's resolution is there anything else that you put on that list?
Vin: Lose some weight.
Jon: I put that on too but it's like every year thing.
Vin: If I stop drinking beer, I would lose 20 pounds in a month.
Jon: I'm doing dry January.
Vin: Dry January that sounds terrible.
Jon: It's like the way I justify is that I just drank way too much probably in the last couple of months leading up to January enough for that whole year already so that one month is enough for me to kind of hopefully get it out of my system. Not unfortunately congrats I have two weddings to go to this month.
Vin: This month?
Vin: I had 8 last year. It was a lot.
Jon: A lot of suits. I’m at a bridal party.
Vin: I’ve got the exact same suit, tie and everything. I don’t care if I look the same in every photo.
Jon: I'm in the bridal party for one of my buddy's weddings.
Vin: And it's the best.
Jon: I'm pretty stoked, but like I know that's like something I can't really be sober for because you're celebrating it's one of my best friends so that's going to be tough.
Vin: Did you have a bachelor party?
Jon: I don't talk about it. So for new year's resolutions is there anything else that uh you know you're trying to work on as a designer that as you said I think you've kind of mentioned there's always some kind of point where you realize that you wanted to get better at something you know that's what kind of led you to work for WeWork and even Pasha earlier than that. Is there anything that you're trying to improve on now and get into from the stuff that you're already doing?
Vin: I definitely want to do more animation stuff for sure because I think my work could translate really well into just even really simple animations.
Jon: All your type stuff lends itself to that.
Vin: As I'm designing and I picture how it would move or I would like want it. I can visualize it. I just need to learn to do that. I'm kind of happy I'm like a Swiss Army knife when it comes to-- I'm glad I can draw like really detailed stuff and I'm really happy I can design fonts and everything in between. I'm kind of happy that I don't have a style but in that in a sense I also want that thing that people are like that's Vin’s work, but at the same time I really enjoyed that I can just like a tackle an illustration project or a branding project. It just allows me to keep my brain--
Jon: Really moving learning all those things. All right Vin thank you so much for chatting with me today. Where can people find you online or in real life?
Vin: Right now, in real life I won't say my address, but you can come I’ve got a cool roof.
Jon: In Bushwick find me.
Vin: Yes. Well online I'm building my portfolio out as I said before there are too many cute illustrations. But right now, I'm just on Dribble, I post everything on there.
Jon: You’re on Instagram too?
Jon: What's your handle on Instagram?
Vin: I kind of forget. I think it's Vindesign_CO.
Jon: Wait is dot CO or underscore CO?
Vin: Underscore CO?
Jon: At Vindesign_CO. Thank you, Vin, for being on this episode.
Vin: Thanks Jon.
On this episode, I speak with an inspiring friend of mine, Vincent Conti. Vin is currently a brand design at WeWork where he collaborates with a cross-disciplinary team of artists, illustrators, designers, and architects to craft the spaces and places people work at WeWork.
How We Met
- Vin and I met while working at a nightclub in New York City called Pacha. I was interning on the marketing team and Vin had just joined as a designer. Prior to the nightclub Vin was working part-time at a non-profit in his hometown and freelancing on the side for friends. One of the freelance gigs was designing club flyers for friends. One of the flyers Vin made actually was for a show at Pacha and eventually, the creative director reached out to see if he wanted to work at the club.
- While at the nightclub Vin was able to work on a ton of different projects of all sizes ranging from wristbands to massive posters. The process at the nightclub was very fast and rapid. While sometimes the deadlines were tight, this taught Vin to be confident in his work and also pushed him creatively to come up with endless ideas.
- While working at the nightclub Vin was inspired by the designers such as Jon Contino, Spencer Charles, and Simon Walker. This influenced him to start practicing and sketching typography which is now a big part of his portfolio today.
- Vin also finds time to work on projects for friends whenever possible outside of work. This helps him to practice his skills and do more of the work he would like to do when the opportunity to go independent arrives.
How Creatives Network
- After working at the nightclub for some time Vin moved back home and freelanced at agency while working on his portfolio. During this time Vin was very engaged on Dribbble which is a website for creatives to showcase their work. He was following the work of Jeremiah Britton at the time who is now the creative director of the WeWork team they both work on. Vin reached out to Jeremiah to ask about what his day-to-day looked like and his process since he really enjoyed his work. Because of this Jeremiah looked over Vin's portfolio and suggested that he apply for the team and from there Vin got the job.
Big thanks to Vin for chatting with me on this episode. Sorry these notes are short for this episode. If you enjoy these write-ups and would like to see more please let me know on twitter.