I get a lot of compliments on Small Coffee’s branding, and I owe it to Adil Dara Kim. Adil is a Brooklyn-based freelancer with nearly a decade of experience working in branding, art direction, illustration, and essentially all aspects of design. However, we’ve never met in person! We talked on the phone once and the rest of our communication has been over email, so I really don't know him that well; which is why I wanted to point the spotlight on him this month.
I reached out to Adil back in 2011, around the time he started freelancing. I was looking for a graphic designer to create a personal logo for my portfolio site and for my business cards. A friend of mine who knew him in New York showed me a Beyonce/Bianchi bike he designed (right) and I was like, “I want to work with that guy!” Fast-forward three years later, I found myself needing a logo for Small Coffee and wanted something truly unique. I felt like Adil really got my design aesthetic the first time we worked together, so I knew he would be the right person for the job. And he was!
Over the past five years, Adil has really upped his freelance game. His clients have included Cole Haan, Mozilla, Amazon Publishing and Hachette, just to name a few. Learn more about him, and reach out to him if you need him to help you with your branding!
What was your path to becoming a designer?
As a kid, my friends and I grew up skateboarding and making t-shirts and board graphics. I had no idea this could actually be a career. Then, I created show posters for venues in Philadelphia, and now I’m creating book covers, brand identities, etc.
What kind of projects do you take on and who are most of your clients? What project do you not take on?
Recently, I’ve been taking on mostly book jacket design and branding projects. I won’t take on a project if I don’t believe in the product or service.
The first time I reached out to you it was because I saw you had a playful sense of design. The second time I reached out to you it was because I realized you're quite good at being minimal, which is an aesthetic I like. What would you say is your personal aesthetic?
I like communicating a message in a simple and effective way. A lot of my designs end up being having a clever, playful element. Having a sense of humor is important in design.
What I appreciate is that you always meet your deadline. Any tips for staying motivated and organized?
Lists, alerts, and being a people pleaser doesn’t hurt
Where do you find inspiration?
I like to get inspiration from places that aren’t necessarily graphic design related. I’ll look at fashion, architecture, fine art, nature, food, science, etc. But, really, I end up being inspired by the most random things when I’m not even looking for it.
What's a typical workday look like for you?
On workdays, I’ll make coffee and walk around the studio until I feel ready enough to tackle the project at hand. On my free days, I’ll walk or bike around the city finding things that interest me.
What do you like to do for fun?