BQ&A: Alex Croft And His Life Hacks Poster Kickstarter Project

lifehackposter.jpg

Who are you, what do you do, etc.?

My name is Alex and I am a graphic designer living in Austin, TX.

I have been a designer specializing in print work for the last 9 years. Having worked for other graphic design companies, two years ago I transitioned over to freelance work starting my own company. Most recently I have launched a project on Kickstarter.com to get a poster full of the best life hacks and guides printed. It is my first Kickstarter project and I am very excited!

What tools do you use to get your job done? Software, hardware, etc.

I use Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator on a MacBook Pro connected to an external Mac display for more screen space.

I would show you a photo of my desk but me and my wife are actually mid moving, so I am far too embarrassed. It is not a pretty sight.

What's a typical day look like for you?

Wake up at 8 AM, at my desk by 9 AM. Answer emails, plan out the work for that day and then just work away at posters, CD covers, magazines, and leaflets that have been requested by my clients. Finish up around 5 PM. Hang out with friends, get dinner with my wife. Watch a bit of TV, call around and see what my friends are doing and join them.

So, explain your Kickstarter project and why you think it's awesome (asides, of course, the obvious awesomeness of a life hacks poster on people's walls).

I have launched a Kickstarter project to get a poster printed which I have spent much of my free time over the last year creating. It is a poster full of Life Hacks. Tricks and tips that save you time and money.

About a year and a half ago came across the term 'Life Hack' and I quickly become obsessed with finding out the latest and greatest tricks people had come up with to save effort. I became a regular on Lifehacker.com and reddit.com/r/lifehacks and I just found mostly everything I read interesting and useful.

At that point I realized there were so many people who didn't know these tricks and would be at the very least amused by them. I wondered how I could get my friends interested in this subject without pushing it on them. And so I came up with the idea to make a poster. Something you could just display on the wall and people could find by themselves.

Now I need to raise a certain amount of money to get it printed and that is why I turned to Kickstarter.com. Anyone can back the project by pledging $30 to help get it printed — and there are other tiers with different rewards as well. In return they will receive a copy of the poster (if we get fully funded). And if we don't, their pledge never gets used and they get their $30 back.

What made you decide to make this poster? I suppose that is something of a two-part question: First, what was the original inspiration for the idea in the first place, and second, what made you finally, I'm assuming one day, just decide that now is the time to buckle down and do it?

One of the main things that made me want to create this poster was that I realized I had been a designer for so many years and yet I had never designed something of my own. Everything was always for clients.

So I started really thinking about creating this poster. I got this rush of creativity and purpose - no one to demand ridiculous fonts, no client to change perfectly good designs on personal preference, everything could be as I wanted it - all these thoughts went through my head. And most of all something I could be proud of. I mean, if you are a songwriter, at least once in your life you want to write a song that only you sing, right?

Isn't Kickstarter just a brilliant thing? What would you have done if Kickstarter hadn't existed, if anything? And why Kickstarter and not one of these other services like IndieGoGo or whatnot?

Kickstarter is genius. You know some people look at companies and think "I wish I was there at the beginning" — well, I wish I was there at Kickstarter. They have opened up so many doors for inventors, artists, projects.

I picked Kickstarter because I felt that it was the best fit for this project, over other crowd-funding sites like IndieGoGo. I also think that it has more of an audience than IndieGoGo. I don't mean to knock IndieGoGo — it was the first one out there, and there are many projects that are best suited for IndieGoGo because of its different payment system.

Without crowd-funding sites, projects like mine just would not happen.

As the campaign really only just started, what are your predictions for where it will go? Kickstarter has given rise to a lot of success stories, but, without being too blunt, many failures as well. How do you deal with that all, and what are you doing to reach your goal?

All I wish is that it gets funded so I can get the poster into use. Obviously if it is a huge success and 10X it's funding goal that would be great too. But I simply want for it to be accepted and for people to enjoy my poster. I want the poster to be used and not just stay unprinted on my hard drive.

Taking a few steps back for a second, you do need some sort of prototype before going to Kickstarter. Can you talk a bit about the process?

I spent almost a year saving life hacks and tricks that I came across. I then tested as many as I could and researched those I couldn't to find reviews on workability. Then I spent a fair amount of time sketching out how best to illustrate each one.

After that, myself and a friend spent a long time illustrating them. Then it was a lot of shuffling around on the poster to make everything fit and look good.

Even today the poster is changing. I keep coming across stuff that "has to be included in my poster". I am constantly improving and perfecting it, probably right up until the day I send it to the printer.

Kickstarter looks at the overall project to approve it. You don't have to have a prototype, but I would advise it. On my project page you can see the design of the poster finished. Had I just said "I have this idea, but I can't show you what it will look like" I am sure I would have gotten a lot less support.

Now I am spending the time to promote my project. I have had a lot of interest and I hope I get more and more as the project progresses.

If this whole poster thing takes off, where do you see yourself a few months, or years, down the road?

Doing the same thing — designing. But maybe paying more attention to my own crazy ideas I come up with from time to time.

Throughout the day, what apps do you have in your Dock or open? Any favorite websites/Internet habits that you check regularly?

Oh man, basically what distracts me from work the most?

Facebook, Reddit, watching poker tournaments on YouTube, and checking life-hacking websites. In that order.

What's your iPhone/iPad homescreen look like? Single most interesting app and why?

My most favorite app is WhatsApp. I am from England living in Austin TX so I miss my family a lot. WhatsApp makes it like I am just there. I constantly get updates, photos and videos from my family.

Single favorite movie?

Shawshank Redemption

If you could have any single super-power, what would it be?

Making things fly with my hands. So I could make myself fly, and other objects or people move around.

Want to share one of your favorite life hacks from the poster here?

It is hard to pick, but one of my favorite life hacks, although I don't agree with speeding, has got to be:

When you get a speeding ticket, check the back of the road sign displaying the speed limit. If it doesn't have an official sticker on the back of it, that usually means it was put up by a developer in a commercial or residential area and that you can get your ticket overturned in court.

Although I probably use the one I explain in my project video of how to get more coffee for your dollar at Starbucks the most!

This BQ&A is just one of many awesome interviews with awesome people. Be sure to check them all out here.