Interview: Graphic designer Reda Lazri
While working on multimedia projects at the FSF, I've had the privilege of working with graphic designers in our community.
I respect them due to the unique challenges they face: they are often outsiders to the general graphic design community, which is so firmly in the grips of Adobe's proprietary programs like Photoshop and Illustrator that most professionals don't even bother trying free software tools.
I recently spoke with Reda Lazri, a free software graphic designer from Algeria who created our logo for LibrePlanet 2015, as well as the visual identity of the 2014 Giving Guide.
Tell us about yourself
I'm twenty-nine years old and a self-taught freelance designer from Algeria. I mainly design interfaces and logos, but I do other things for fun, like desktop customization (themes, wallpapers, icons). And I love doing redesigns.
I help maintain the graphics side of the GNOME Firefox theme and have contributed to free software projects like GNOME and LibreOffice.
How did you get interested in free software?
I'm a computer geek and there was a time where I would install GNU/Linux and play with it, then get frustrated and go back to Windows. I kept going back and forth until I fell in love with the Tango icon set,1 (a standalone project to help create a consistent graphical user interface experience for free software) and decided to give Ubuntu2 another spin so I could use the icons properly. It was mature enough at that time for it to become my only OS.
Since Windows tools aren't available for GNU/Linux I spent a huge amount of time researching their free replacements. I collected information and tutorials and followed artists that use free tools just to convince myself that I could survive without the Adobe oxygen.
What tools do you use?
My main vector illustration tool has always been Inkscape. I've never liked Adobe Illustrator much. I use Inkscape for drawing some of my wallpapers, for quick wireframing, for all my logo work, and for making icons. I also like Blender.
What role would you like for designers in free software?
I think that designers should play two major roles in the free software world. The first is helping projects focus on user experience. Long gone are the days when free software developers would put together a quick interface and call it a day; now you need designers to be included in the process of making software from the very beginning. Just take a look at what the people at GNOME, KDE, and elementary OS are doing right now and compare it to some years ago.
The second role is for designers to drive the development of the very tools they use. It's easier said than done, but if designers are the ones using the software, it's logical for them to set the priorities. As designers we need good, up-to-date tools, and the free software world will benefit when our tools are able to compete better with the proprietary options that dominate graphic design.
What inspires you in the design world?
What inspires me are the creative solutions to different problems, whether they are life problems or design problems. I especially love creative logos and punny illustrations. I like the work of Glenn Jones,3 and in the free software community I enjoy following the GNOME designers4.
You can see Reda's work on Dribbble5 and deviantART.6
2Note that the FSF does not endorse Ubuntu because, in its default configuration, it includes and recommends nonfree software. We haven't formally reviewed elementary OS, also mentioned here, for endorsement. See a list of distributions we do endorse at https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-distros.