Paul Sizer | Lunch & Learn

My Life as a DJ: or is it designer? Or is it both?

By // Brandon Smith

Paul Sizer describes himself as a “one-person studio for creating industrial strength art and design,” according to his website paulsizer.com. Paul currently works at the Western Michigan University Design Center as an assistant director, as an independent freelance designer/illustrator, and as a DJ by the name of DJ Dazzelship.

 

Paul was kind enough to spend some time with us at our Kalamazoo office and talk about the parallels between being a designer and a DJ.

1. Learn to watch the dance floor

Be present with the environment. If the floor is empty then it doesn’t benefit you to continue with that direction. Be flexible with your decisions to achieve the desired reaction.

2. Give the audience what they want and what they need

Spend time studying influences, genres, and knowing the right suggestions. Know the pulse of the audience and educate them. It’s your job to give your audience what it wants even if they don’t know what that is yet.

3. Educate without being pedantic

Offer up original ideas and remain modest in doing so. Find what works best for your client and offering them options they wouldn’t normally pick without seeming condescending or forceful.

4. Serve the needs of the dance floor

The needs of your audience should be based on age, wants, energy levels, and amount of people present on the floor among other things. You should know the demographic you’re catering to and be present and aware of the ever-changing environment. The crowd will determine the content.

5. Watch the flow, don’t tire out your dance floor

Switch up the tempo. Know when to be bold and press the client and when to pull back. It’s all about establishing a long-term relationship. You wouldn’t want to bleed them out and charge too much money but instead find a sweet spot that both parties can agree on.

6. Let the music do its work

The more you watch other people play music, the more you find out when and where to implement your style into the mix. Know how and when to get out of the way and let the music or design do what it needs to do. Focus on presenting the content really well and don’t over do it. Keep it simple and don’t dress it up too much.

7. Good selection always beats tricks and flash

The reason why people keep coming back to you is because you play good music. Have faith in your product and stand behind it. You wouldn’t put frosting on a cake that already has frosting on it, would you?

8. The less you use the more important the individual parts are

The toughest music to play is the most minimal. Each individual note is has importance and makes it harder to work with. It is crucial to make sure everything all the small details are accounted for because they determine the whole. It’s easy to blanket social media for example with an overflow of meaningless content that people will eventually tune out. Let the parts do the talking and don’t be afraid to leave some space.

9. The best remixes honor the source material but also challenge it

A remix should enhance the original and not smother it. The best remixes remain true to the source and reinvent in a new unique way. Find out what made the original so good and build off of that. Your job is to find ways to take ideas and remix them so the client isn’t getting a carbon copy of the original.

10. Playing just for yourself bores the crowd

Push your boundaries but realize you’re paying attention to the people you’re working for. It develops a better connection between you and your audience and plays a crucial role in developing a long-term working relationship. It helps to harness and implement the passion you feel for what excites you into what excites your audience.

11. See the value in things you don’t understand yet

It’s of value to constantly find out what is good about certain music or design even if it doesn’t appeal to you yet. Giving you a chance to assess what’s strong, what’s not then critique. Ask yourself “can I produce something that’s different but serves the same purpose?” It’s important to find things that excite you and make you scared at the same time.

After Paul’s presentation we all shared a meal with food provided by Nick’s Gyros. Before Paul departed, he bestowed to us a first edition of his illustrated comic: Moped Army as well as two of his signed posters.

 

Thank you Paul for sharing your pearls of wisdom with us! It was a treat to have you here.

My Life as a DJ: or is it designer? Or is it both?

By // Brandon Smith

Paul Sizer describes himself as a “one-person studio for creating industrial strength art and design” according to his website, paulsizer.com. Paul currently works at the Western Michigan University Design Center as an assistant director, as an independent freelance designer/illustrator, and as a DJ by the name of DJ Dazzelship.

 

Paul was nice enough to spend some time with us at our Kalamazoo office and talk about the parallels between being a designer and a DJ.

1. Learn to watch the dance floor

Be present with the environment. If the floor is empty then it doesn’t benefit you to continue with that direction. Be flexible with your decisions to achieve the desired reaction.

2. Give the audience what they want and what they need

Spend time studying influences, genres, and knowing the right suggestions. Know the pulse of the audience and educate them. It’s your job to give your audience what it wants even if they don’t know what that is yet.

3. Educate without being pedantic

Offer up original ideas and remain modest in doing so. Find what works best for your client and offering them options they wouldn’t normally pick without seeming condescending or forceful.

4. Serve the needs of the dance floor

The needs of your audience should be based on age, wants, energy levels, and amount of people present on the floor among other things. You should know the demographic you’re catering to and be present and aware of the ever-changing environment. The crowd will determine the content.

5. Watch the flow, don’t tire out your dance floor

Switch up the tempo. Know when to be bold and press the client and when to pull back. It’s all about establishing a long-term relationship. You wouldn’t want to bleed them out and charge too much money but instead find a sweet spot that both parties can agree on.

6. Let the music do its work

The more you watch other people play music, the more you find out when and where to implement your style into the mix. Know how and when to get out of the way and let the music or design do what it needs to do. Focus on presenting the content really well and don’t over do it. Keep it simple and don’t dress it up too much.

7. Good selection always beats tricks and flash

The reason why people keep coming back to you is because you play good music. Have faith in your product and stand behind it. You wouldn’t put frosting on a cake that already has frosting on it, would you?

8. The less you use the more important the individual parts are

The toughest music to play is the most minimal. Each individual note is has importance and makes it harder to work with. It is crucial to make sure everything all the small details are accounted for because they determine the whole. It’s easy to blanket social media for example with an overflow of meaningless content that people will eventually tune out. Let the parts do the talking and don’t be afraid to leave some space.

9. The best remixes honor the source material but also challenge it

A remix should enhance the original and not smother it. The best remixes remain true to the source and reinvent in a new unique way. Find out what made the original so good and build off of that. Your job is to find ways to take ideas and remix them so the client isn’t getting a carbon copy of the original.

10. Playing just for yourself bores the crowd

Push your boundaries but realize you’re paying attention to the people you’re working for. It develops a better connection between you and your audience and plays a crucial role in developing a long-term working relationship. It helps to harness and implement the passion you feel for what excites you into what excites your audience.

11. See the value in things you don’t understand yet

It’s of value to constantly find out what is good about certain music or design even if it doesn’t appeal to you yet. Giving you a chance to assess what’s strong, what’s not then critique. Ask yourself “can I produce something that’s different but serves the same purpose?” It’s important to find things that excite you and make you scared at the same time.

After Paul’s presentation we all shared a meal with food provided by Nick’s Gyros. Before Paul departed, he bestowed to us a first edition of his illustrated comic: Moped Army as well as two of his signed posters.

 

Thank you Paul for sharing your pearls of wisdom with us! It was a treat to have you here.

About Lunch & Learn

At Circa, we have a bold understanding that education never just stops after college. This has been the motivation for our new series: Lunch & Learn. Every month we will have lunch with some of the brightest people in the creative field ranging from painters to SEO masters; and poke their brains to get a better understanding of the world and our role as visual communicators.

About Paul Sizer

Paul works as an assistant director at Western Michigan University Design Center, as an independent freelance designer/illustrator, and as a DJ by the name of DJ Dazzelship. He’s an avid comic and music enthusiast and self titled “geek” for the culture. (Being a geek is a good thing.)

 

To view Paul’s work visit paulsizer.com.