To kick off our People of Ptex series, I sat down with Art Director Moshe Indig to chat about design, branding, typography, and the meaning of creativity.
Around the office, Moshe is known as a fearless creative and a man who puts his heart into his work. With a brilliant eye, golden hands, and his little black sketchbook never too far from reach, Moshe has this rare knack for knowing how to simultaneous inhabit the divergent worlds of art and strategy. And it shows.
Lucky for me, I had the chance to sit down with Moshe for an interview in the Brain Room.
What’s your official job title?
Ptex isn’t really into official job titles. But I guess if you have to give it a name, I’m a Senior Designer/Art Director.
What first got you into design?
When I was in school I was always doodling. I’d hide my drawings in between the pages of my Gemara, and sometimes my Rebbeim would take away my drawings because I wasn’t listening in class. When I was in yeshivah, I started designing wedding monograms for people. I’d just plug in my earphones and sit for hours and draw and draw. And that was the beginning of my love affair with art and graphics.
Was there a specific person who inspired you artistically?
In the early days, my father had a big influence on me. He is an artist. In his spare time, he would make these beautiful hand-drawn Ketubahs for friends’ weddings. At one point, he did graphic design. At that time, there were no computers, so graphic design was hand drawn with wax paper templates that would transfer the font onto paper. I used to love looking at his work and trying to copy it.
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in design?
I tried many different types of jobs before becoming a designer. While working for one company, I tried to challenge myself to do as many different jobs as possible—just to get the experience. So I worked as a customer service rep, truck driver, cabinet manufacturer, kitchen designer, marketing director, trade show arranger and product developer. Then discovered my passion for branding & design and realized how strongly it influences today’s culture. I learned more, took a few courses, and eventually founded my own boutique agency, Indigo.
How did you come to work at Ptex?
It’s a funny story. I was working for CNC Cabinetry, selling kitchens. I started off in customer service, answering phones (I’ll admit, not really my thing). Then, the company hired Ptex to do a rebranding. So I was in touch with the designers on the project, and we started to speak a lot over the phone. I got to know others in the company, and over time I built friendships with many of them. A few years later, when they posted on social media looking to hire freelance designers, I responded, totally as a joke, “Hey, how about me?” I started freelancing, and I loved it so much that I ended up joining the team full time. The rest is history.
What is your favorite part of your job?
When I came to Ptex, my eyes were opened to a new world. I had never worked as a designer with a team before. I came in thinking of myself as a pretty good designer, but the caliber of the talent here was tremendous—it was very humbling. The collaboration was unlike anything I had experienced as a freelancer or running my own agency. I love working with a team and learning and growing together. In the last year and a half since I’ve started working at Ptex, I’ve learned more than I probably did in the 6 years before that when I was on my own.
I also love that I’m doing work that really makes a difference. When you work for a serious agency, you are under a lot pressure to deliver real solutions to the client. So you can’t just take the first idea that seems good and run with it. You’re forced to push boundaries and then push harder. And incredible things come as a result.
What is something you’ve learned from working here?
It’s commonly said that designers are problem solvers. Until I began working at Ptex, I never really understood this. Who’s buying something just because it comes in a pretty package?
But I learned that there’s a certain strategy and structure to good design. To achieve a look that’s not just pretty, but that communicates the brand, requires practice and a thorough understanding of branding and marketing. I also learned the importance of typography and layout. And why fonts make such a difference.
Yes, I know you’re very into typography. What’s all the hype about type?
It’s one of the things that I think distinguishes good design from great design. For some designers, it’s all about the shapes and images, and the text is just stuck in almost as an afterthought. But fonts and typography are very powerful tools for storytelling, just as much as the colors and shapes and images.
Fonts tell a story? Can you give me an example?
I once had the opportunity to meet with Michael Beirut at Pentagram [a renowned design studio in New York City], and at one point during our meeting, he gave me this little essay booklet that was published by Pentagram. The booklet spoke about a study conducted by Errol Morris that concluded that Baskerville is a more believable font then others, including Georgia, Helvetica, Trebuchet, and Comic Sans. He discovered that the reason for this is that most Bibles were printed in Baskerville, so eventually, with time, people started associating it with the truth and higher power. If typography can actually influence our perception of truth, that’s pretty powerful proof of its storytelling ability.
What advice would you give to a designer just starting out?
You can have opinions and ideas, but they can only take you as far as your knowledge. Surround yourself with other talented people who can critique you, challenge you, teach you, and open your eyes to new ways of thinking about things. You absorb from your surroundings. And the work you can produce from learning and collaborating with others is exponentially better. It’s on another level.
When you hear the word “creativity,” what comes to mind?
What’s creativity? Oxford Dictionary says creativity is “The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” But in reality, it’s way more than that. Creativity is not just an idea, it’s something that changes and shapes the world. When someone has a problem and is looking for ways to solve it, there are two ways to tackle it. There’s the conventional way—easy, logical, that no one will notice or pay attention to. Then there’s the unconventional way—an out-of-the-box way that people instantly notice, turn their head, and go, “hey, that’s cool, I want it.”
Though the unconventional way looks smooth-sailing and cool from the outside, the route to get to it is always more difficult. It requires more thinking, more work and more, well, creativity. But, at the end of the day, the results speak for themselves.
What words do you live by?
“Love what you do, and don’t work a day in your life.”
Follow Moshe on instagram @moish_art.