Meet Jeremy Wat Designer + Illustrator


As a solo designer for over a decade, interacting with local design types has always been a bit of a challenge. So about eight months ago when I was invited to join a new Facebook group for local designers, called The Design Pool, it didn’t take much convincing. I jumped right in. The chance to connect, to bat around new ideas, discuss common issues and solve the world’s problems, was a welcome and necessary diversion. It was at our first meet-up last spring that I met Jeremy Wat. His reputation as a designer + illustrator has certainly grown and continues to grow. I’d like you to meet him:

Who is Jeremy Wat?

I was one of those kids who loved drawing.

Whether it’s on my arm with a pen during class or on book reports illustrating the very few parts that I read (which clearly indicates that I wasn’t a very good student). Designing came naturally when I found myself drawn to typography, layout design and colour. My decision to pursue these areas as a career came from having supportive parents who showed interest in my work and encouraged me in my happiness when I design and illustrate.

Originally from Toronto, I graduated from a fine arts high school and completed two years of Graphic Design at George Brown College. I have been a full-time graphic designer for the past eight years here in Winnipeg and illustrator on the side off and on for a few years. Currently, I am the Art Director at Oasis Community Church.

How would you describe your work,
your style and approach?

I have developed an avid appreciation for textures, typography and colour, and I try to apply my love of them by varying it among my projects.

In my early days as a designer, I worked best under the “crunch time” effect. Knowing that a project was due and pushing it until it got a little tight gave me that rush of motivation I needed to get it finished. Clients and bosses don’t like that. So my approach has developed into To-Do lists and timelines, giving me room to refine projects and space to be more creative.

What got you into illustration?

Whenever my parents took me out to a restaurant as a kid, the first thing my dad would do was take out a pen and hand a paper napkin over to me to start doodling. We went out to eat often, so I got into illustration by having parents who found that a ballpoint pen and a serviette were easily the best babysitter.

Which do you enjoy more? Design or illustration?

Tough one. There are aspects of both that I enjoy. I design more than illustrate, so when I illustrate it’s a refreshing break from work and freelance. I’m a huge fan of the creative process and one-on-ones with clients when I design, but I also the enjoy the freedom when experimenting with illustration. There’s something I like about illustrations by hand where “Undo” is not an option.

How has your faith played a role in your work?

By looking at a designer’s portfolio, you get a good sense about their interests, personality and beliefs by the clients they have chosen to work for and the general themes that come from their work. The majority of recent additions to my portfolio have scriptural and church culture themes. I’ve been intentional about including them as I have been working at a couple of churches for the past four years. My personal faith has no direct correlation to my work, but it’s because of it that has allowed me to love the opportunity to create graphics for the church.

What has been your all-time favourite project?
Toughest project?

Favourite project:

Every year, my wife and I try to create our own Christmas cards. We have a tradition of sitting down at our favourite vegetarian restaurant to brainstorm ideas as to what we should design next for the holidays. As life goes with all the busyness and holiday planning, we went from hand cut cards to DIY colouring pages.

Toughest project:

I recently completed my first illustrated children’s book called, “Who Made the Sky?” written by a friend from Toronto. The toughest part about completing that enormous project was balancing it with a full-time job and family. When the narrow window of your day after coming home from work and sleeping at a decent hour demands creativity and attention to detail, it takes its toll. I enjoyed the project and thoroughly pleased with it, but I had to ask for a lot of grace and patience.

How have you embraced social media?

I’ve been connecting with numerous creatives over the past year when I initiated a Design Pool for graphic designers in Winnipeg on Facebook. Social media has allowed us to create a forum to arrange meetups, share links, inspirations and give feedback for our work. It’s been a useful way for computer-bound designers like us to interact with others and make the most out of it by learning from and inspired by each other. Some of the best conversations over coffee that I’ve had have been with other creative folks who do what we do and love it.

What tools are in your toolbox?

These are the essentials that I’ve added over the years and quite simply can’t do without:

A. Macbook Pro: for digital designing and emails
B. Metal Edge Ruler + Exacto Knife: for custom cut cards and cropping for print work
C. iPhone: for quick note taking and voice memos on the go
D. Portable External Hard Drive: for backups and storing photos of my family
E. Moleskine: for low-tech analog note taking and sketches
F. Staedtler Pigment pen: for note taking, quick sketches and illustrating
G. Wacom Cintiq 12WX: for digital illustrations and photo work
H. iPad: for concept sketches and reading blogs (and Draw Something)

How have you found work/life balance. (I hate that phrase). But as a husband and new dad, how do you create time for all of it and you?

My commute to and from work can take up to half an hour each way. I intentionally take that time to create a space for myself to get a head start on my day of creativity by “designdreaming” (a variation of daydreaming). On my way home, again I intentionally take that commute time to leave the projects I have running in my head at work and remind myself that I’m going home to a fantastic wife and baby.

Any advice for aspiring designers/illustrators?

I’ve made it a priority to work and live by the words of another designer, Dan Kuhlken who created a poster that read, “Love what you do, and it will love you back”. It thrills me to create, whether it’s to pay for silly bills or plan fun projects with my wife. Even with the inevitable frustrations and nitty gritty details of the industry, choose to make it a passion. Loving what you do can show its love back to you by way of being able to express your creative ideas and satisfaction of seeing it transform from concept to its completion.

How can potential clients get in touch with you? My website is a good place to start to see what’s been keeping me busy and to contact me.  I love talking shop whether it’s about design or hilarious YouTube clips.