An Interview with Gal Shir, Designer and Illustrator

Get to know Designers from some of the world's leading companies in our new series of interviews, Designers Spilling Tea.

What was the moment that you knew you wanted to be a designer?

How did you get to where you are now?

In the beginning, as a teenager, I did a lot of free work for some small local business in the area where I lived. Then I started to publish my work and find more clients online. I gained experience and learned a lot while being a freelancer for several years working with different clients. Then I started to work full-time in some creative agencies and some startups.

What did your teachers think of you?

I think my high-school teachers liked me because I was a quiet student and didn’t make many problems, but I actually had very low grades. I was drawing during class instead of listening to the teacher. I didn’t make my homework on time nor studied for exams since I was sitting in front of my computer playing with Photoshop and learning the internet.

“I was drawing during class instead of listening to the teacher.”

What does a typical day look like to you? And what makes a day, a good day, for you?

I usually wake up at 9:00 AM and start my day with a 20-minute walk to the office of the startup that I’m currently working with. I meet with the team, work a bit, eat lunch together, work a bit more, and head home in the evening. At the end of the day, I find some time for social media, emails, drawings, and watching Netflix or YouTube.

What does your setup look like?

I use a MacBook Pro 15.9 inch with an Asus 4k monitor. Nearby, I have my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil, my Bose headphones, Lumix GH5 Camera, some sketchbooks (actually many sketchbooks), pencils and a bottle of water.

What’s your process around bringing an illustration to life?

My animation process starts before the illustration step, when I first try to think of a story. I find the interesting features of objects like their shape, material, or functionality, and figure out what could be funny or entertaining about them. Then I sketch the illustration, most of the times using the iPad Pro, and work on the animation in After Effects.

What was it that made you start drawing?

I think I’ve been doodling since the age of 3, so I’m not sure that there is a specific thing or moment that got me into illustration. But I got deeper into it in high school, through learning more in art class and then more professionally when I started to work on illustrations for clients.

What was the project that you feel you learned the most from?

I learned and am still learning the most working with Lemonade. I’ve faced some challenges with them since they’re a startup reinventing the old-fashioned insurance world, a tough task in itself because as you know, insurance is not that simple to explain. I’ve had to push the boundaries of my creativity to deliver complex messaging through illustrations, and to build good UX out of a bad-UX industry.

What are you most proud of?

What makes me really proud is the community I’ve managed to grow around digital illustration on my Instagram and my YouTube channel. I’m super excited to have the opportunity to inspire other people, share my process, and engage with many designers all over the world.


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More Halloween stuff! 👻 A little ghost this time, hope you enjoy watching the process! Made on iPad Pro 12.9 inch using the #procreate app. ✍️ Brushes: Studio Pen and Grunge. Let me know what you think! #art #illustration #drawing #creative #halloween2018

A post shared by Gal Shir (@thegalshir) on

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“I think one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is that if you want to become a good creator, you need to start with being a good consumer.”

Maybe it’s a bit abstract, but I found out that when I wanted to become better in illustration, for example, I had to consume a lot from the illustration world. There’s this phase saying “You are what you eat”. So, I started following all kind of illustrators and made my Instagram feed full of Illustrations so I can consume it each and every day. And it worked, I think.

“The worst advice is that you must go to university in order to succeed. It’s true that you need to always keep on learning, but the way you do that is not important.”

What are you watching on Netflix right now? What are you reading/listening to right now?

Watching “Disenchantment” and the new season of “The Good place”. Listening to “Epica vs Attack on Titan Songs” which is a new album by a band I love, covering songs from an anime show I’m currently watching called “Attack on Titan”.

Who’s work do you follow and admire?

Illustrators:

Animators:

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Writing for Marvel. Writing for fun. Eating everywhere, all the time.

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