I recently had the opportunity to interview Yegor Gilyov, of Turbomilk, a truly creative Custom Icon and GUI design team based in Samara, Russia. Their reputation for outstanding work has gained them recognition around the planet. So it was truly great to have the chance to ask one of the original founders a few questions.
Joshua Mormann | vonCreedy.com: First of all, I have to ask, where does the name 'TurboMilk' come from, and what does it mean exactly? (I love the milk carton rocket, by the way.)
Yegor Gilyov | Turbomilk: People ask this question very often. The truth may sound weird: we do not remember who among us came up with this name. We picked this name from a range of other names that we thought up. We just liked it better. Turbomilk sounds unusual, somewhat provocative and easy to remember. At the same there is no aggression in it. In my opinion it is very positive. We used to have the following tagline on our site: 'powerful and healthy GUI design for human beings'. Our work is to make sure that people interact with the products of our clients with great pleasure. Milk is tasty and healthy, therefore the associative array fits.
vonC: When TurboMilk began back in 2002, how many designers/illustrators were are a part of the original team? I notice that you, Denis, and Dmitri, are all partners, how long have the three of you known each other?
Yegor: Back in 2002 there were four of us: Denis Kortunov, Dmitry Joukov, Alexey Polekhin and me, Yegor Gilyov. We started working together almost right after we met each other. First, we were independent freelancers who used to demonstrate our latest work to each other, sharing experience and sometimes doing cooperative projects. And rather soon we came up with the idea of how wonderful it would be to rent an office and work together. We were not familiar with the idea of co-working back then but in essence it was something very similar to it.
vonC: What lead up to the decision to start TurboMilk? and how was the company formed?
*Yegor: *It was a gradual and natural process that took several years. First we started working in one office and as a result we gained more mutual projects. Later we came up with the name Turbomilk and made a site featuring our portfolio. After some time we felt so much confidence in ourselves that we decided to expand and hire new designers in our team. It is not so easy to define a certain moment that would mark the beginning of Turbomilk as a company. Each step was a logical consequence of the previous one and as a result we got Turbomilk as we know it these days.
vonC: Your icon design, as well as other design services, have gained you recognition around the world. What project first gained TurboMilk world-wide attention? Has TurboMilk always sought to work with clients from around the world, or did that happen by accident?
Yegor: From the very beginning we worked a lot for our foreign clients. Our first customers were independent shareware developers and the rumors about our works spread in the international community the natural way. In 2004 I won the Grand Prix at Pixelpalooza, an icon design contest held by Iconfactory. This allowed us to gain wider popularity in the World. So when we made the Turbomilk site back in 2005, we had a rather good client base. In order to expand our clientele we always considered our site not as a way to showcase our creative potential (as it happens with some design studios) but as a tool for effective communication with the prospective clients. Therefore we write into the blog and provide detailed description about our projects in the Portfolio section.
vonC: Outside of the US and the UK, I don't often get to see examples of design from individuals, or teams in other parts of the world. The fact that you are located in Russia has always fascinated me. Has language ever been an issue? (The English on your site, reads perfectly by the way). Do you all work at the same office in Samara? or do some of the team work elsewhere, via the Internet?
Yegor: We use Basecamp for organizing our cooperation; it is also used to show interim results to the clients at all stages of our work, discuss further actions in order to attain better results. For this we are pretty much happy with our knowledge of English. The copywriting for the site is translated by a professional translator (btw, these answers are also translated by him). Practically all the work that we do is done from our office in Samara.
vonC: With your team, do you all work pretty closely together on projects, or do you all work more as individuals or sub-teams, and what do you do to keep your brand so cohesive as a team?
Yegor: This depends on a project. Some projects require cooperation of various experts and others may be executed by one person from start till the end. But anyway unity allows us to keep the common working environment. We try to make sure that designers do not sit nose to the monitor all the time but are curious about what their colleagues are up to and help each other with advice.
vonC: Do you, (either as a team, or personally,) have any heros or influences that particularly inspire your creative work? If so, who/what are they?
Yegor: I am not sure that I can name any heroes or idols but I am very inspired by the Incomplete Manifesto for Growth by Bruce Mau.
I would not agree with all of the aspects but many of the depicted ideas help me at my work for many years. My favorite items from the manifest are: 'Everyone is a leader', 'Stand on someone's shoulders', 'Organization = liberty', 'Don't borrow money' and, of course, 'Laugh'.
vonC: Do you, (either as a team, or personally,) have methods or techniques that you use to work through the tough challenges, to stay motivated creatively? If so, what are they?
Yegor: I am a great fan of time management. In my opinion, the ability to use your time properly is a must to anyone who is willing to attain some level of success. Some people do it naturally, others need to pay some effort but without it things do not work. The modern life is too saturated with events; the surrounding world requires from us something new. You can simply float with the stream, or define your priorities, outline the borders and say 'no' to all of the rest. I am kind of supporting the second way.
vonC: Any sagely advice for newbies?:
Yegor: Always listen to the people attentively in order to locate their pain. It may happen that they need something opposite to what you expect.
Yegor: Never justify bad design by technical limitations or some other external conditions. The task of a designer is to come up with solutions that will work well in the given conditions and not to build cloud castles.
vonC: Excellent advice. Thanks Yegor, for answering all the questions for us.
Visitors wanting to learn more about Turbomilk and their work may visit the following links:
- Website: turbomilk.com- July 6, 2011: Journal: Wallpaper and icons for Alfa-Bank - Turbomilk
- June 29, 2011: Journal: Characters Gallery - Turbomilk
- June 28, 2011: Identity: Bingo.ru - Turbomilk
- June 6, 2011: Case Studies: How we came up with and drew origami logos for LondonClasses - Turbomilk
- May 31, 2011: Icons: Qt - Turbomilk
- The Turbomilk Blog
- The Turbomilk Flickr Photostream