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Meet Tom Jermann and Toby Yoo of t42design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tom Jermann and Toby Yoo.

Tom and Toby, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I had early design aspirations from visuals of record albums from my favorite bands, some of the most influential being KISS and the Beatles. What better place to follow my dream than Los Angeles? From my native homeland of Switzerland, I packed up to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. There I earned a BFA in Design and Packaging (in 1995) and started my path to my career in music, landing my first job as a junior art director at MCA Records. In 1997, I founded t42design along with my then girlfriend (now the wife of 18 years), Toby Yoo.

Initial projects came from our very first client, Universal Music. Our breakthrough, however, came from Roadrunner Records, after designing Slipknot’s debut album, followed by their multi-Platinum sophomore album IOWA. This initiated collaborations from Warner Bros. Records, Hollywood Records and other record companies. Another major milestone came in 2001, with a request to design KISS’ Box Set packaging. A childhood dream came true me! This marked the beginning of an incredible 17-year relationship which has continued to this day. With over 50+ projects to date ranging from CD and DVD packages, tour programs, DVD motion menus, box sets, books and others.

Over the years, our design repertoire has grown extensively from a diverse clientele. From book designs for Chronicle Books to brochures and collateral for non-profit organizations (i.e. LA Conservancy), branding and signage for concert venues to websites for bands and businesses and numerous logos and trademarks. We are always ready for new challenges as we continue to pursue our passion.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being self-employed has its challenges. There are many bumps in the road, and often times you find yourself burning the midnight oil. Often times you have to chase over-due invoices (which no one likes to do). In our case, very clearly, the music industry changed dramatically, in my opinion mainly because of emerging technologies. However, the internet has also been a great help. E-mail, pdf, Google etc. Luckily we are classically trained designers so we mainly rely on our skill and creativity and not on our iMacs as they are simply just a tool to execute ideas.

One of the main challenges of being self-employed is to be able to adapt, whether that is based on changing industries, changing clientele or simply you, yourself changing over time as a person. Another struggle sometimes is fluctuating income. There is NO paycheck every two weeks! There are very dry months where you have to tighten your budget, but then there are rewarding months and years. It’s a constant up and down. At the end, it tends to even out.

You gotta have thick skin, but you always need to be professional, even if you have an unpleasant client every now and then. Most importantly you have to remain positive and passionate about what you do. Being your own boss is certainly what we like. Even if it means to bring your laptop on vacation here and there.

Please tell us about t42design.
Our main areas of work is in Art Direction and Design for Branding projects, Packaging, Print Design and Web Development.

We combine our classical design training and the very latest technology to create compelling designs for music packaging and books, web and print design and merchandising. Over the years, we have amassed experience and vast knowledge of all aspects of design: branding and marketing, to development and production/manufacturing. From initial concept to final product, we offer guidance and consultation, providing a personal approach that is uniquely catered towards each project, capturing the distinct vision of our clients.

We are most proud of the fact that we, as a married couple, have been able to sustain and grow our professional and personal relationship over all these years. Even with our clients, we prefer to keep things very personal and honest.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oh, there are many. When I was 2 years old, my parents and I moved to Westchester County north of New York City. It’s there where I learned to speak English by watching Sesame Street! We also drove across the country from where I still have some memories such as meeting a Navajo Chief at a Pow Wow.

Another key moment was when I was 5 (back in Switzerland) when an older friend handed me a Beatles record. In 1978 I got a hold of a KISS album and that was the beginning!

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