Designer’s block: A Q&A with Trent Walton

Categories Web Design

Web designer and founder of branding agency Paravel Inc., Trent Walton knows a thing or two about fancy but functional design. While hashing out content choreography and customizable web typography on, he also has fun making sites and apps with quirky personal touches.

[infobox margin_bottom=”0″ margin_top=”0″ border_radius=”all” color=”white” title=””] This is a series of interviews created in collaboration with our friends from Doejo – a new kind of creative agency, powered by an amazing collective of talent and technology. [/infobox]


The Marble Falls/ Austin, Texas-native notably worked on the Internet Explorer 9-commissioned web design series, Lost World’s Fairs where designers produced stunning WOFF-compatible posters for fictional World’s Fair destinations―Atlantis, El Dorado and the Moon. Walton produced the project’s fascinating landing page. And if you’re looking to avoid tourist traps in non-fictional locations, check out the Paravel-crafted Gowalla-API-based iPhone app, Goodfoot.

Inspired Mag chats with Walton about where he starts to conceptualize complex design, why arrogance at a young age can be a good thing, and what app he’s currently obsessed with (that’s not his own).

1. Where do you start when conceptualizing design and identity?

I buy pads of graph paper in bulk. I like for everything to start roughly with paper and pen. Getting halfway through a concept and realizing you took a wrong turn can be a good thing. You have to start over, and that builds in time to analyze and rethink. I’ve found that disconnecting from the computer at the beginning is helpful—a breath of fresh air and perspective before the heavy lifting starts.

Walton's workspace

2. What artistic medium are you dying to try out but haven’t had the chance to, and why?

I’d like to have more experience with printing—specifically letterpress. We had some business cards done a couple of years ago and I was able to see a Heidelberg in action. It was inspiring to see all that machinery work together to create something. It was much more actual than swapping layers around in Photoshop and exporting a .png.

3. What app on your phone are you currently obsessed with (that you didn’t develop)?

Rdio all the way. The fact that I can carry SO MUCH MUSIC with me without having to purchase it song by song is fantastic. The iPhone app compliments the site and the desktop app wonderfully, and it’s become an essential for any drive, workout, or lazy afternoon.

4. What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

At Paravel, we’re working on a sidecar to our The Many Faces Of project—something that will house posts with a bit of a smaller scope so that we can continue to add content even when the workload gets heavy.

5. What did you want to be growing up (before web design and development found you)?

The web didn’t exist the way I know it when I was growing up. I expect it was more like WarGames. I never had a particular vocation I was interested in, but I loved the idea of starting a business and charting my own way forward. And like many adolescents, I was arrogant enough to think that would be easy. Despite the relative degree of difficulty, I’ve found that it’s the adventure that makes it all worthwhile.

I try and focus on the big picture and the message as opposed to any one style or set of Photoshop techniques. I’m not sure I’d classify my own style as minimalist. Maybe a better word would be concise, or at least I hope that’d be an accurate description.

6. What’s your wackiest indulgence, sure to cheer you up on a rainy day?

It’s gotta be food. I live in Texas, and a green chile cheeseburger or a breakfast taco brightens my day every time.

7. How would you describe your personal design style and how it’s evolved over the years?

I’ve learned to love editing and restraint. I typically have more bad ideas than good ones and have, over time, learned how to discern which ones are which. Working closely with my Paravel cohorts over the years has definitely benefited me in that way. We’re comfortable with giving candid feedback, and I always appreciate their input.

Lost World's Fairs

8. What is your portfolio missing?

I’ve been wrapped up in responsive web design for most of this year and am hoping to find more opportunities for Paravel to push this approach forward. I’d like to find projects that call for invention and problem-solving… sites with unique types of content that have yet to be tackled in a responsive setting. It’s fun to build this way, to see a design come alive as it flows from one browser width or device to the next. Responsive web design is where the Internet is headed.

Trent Walton


John Lendman is the copywriter/ scribe of interactive web agency Doejo. Chicago-based Doejo is a creative hub of designers, developers and a bastion of ingenuity and imagination. The company has launched more than 300 web sites, marketing campaigns and applications since its founding in 2007. Follow us Twitter or check out our blog―if you can keep up.