Interview with Paul Jansen of Flat Icons

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Jansen, a young entrepreneur who heads the Netherlands based icon design company Flat Icons.  We had featured one of their finance icons in our “Icon Design Trends” post as a great example of the “elaborate line icon” style and Paul was kind enough to share more with us about his company and his thoughts on icon design.  He also offered to include this awesome 15 icon set freebie so you can get an even better idea of what makes their work stand out.  Thanks Paul :)


Can you briefly describe Flat Icons – who you are, where you’re based and what you do?

Flat-icons is a design team solely focused on icons. From our home base in the Netherlands we try to come up with original ideas and convert these ideas into pixel-perfect icons every day.

Did you always want to be a designer? How to did get into icon design specifically?

I don’t do the icon design myself actually; I’m just overseeing the whole operation and make sure all our icons meet the quality standards we set for ourself. I did always have affinity with graphic design but got into the business by somewhat of a coincidence. The site Flat-icons.com was for sale and I saw this as a great opportunity to get into the design space and grow the site.

What excites you about creating icons?

What excites me personally is to come up with ideas that are original and in demand. When the crypto-hype started we came up with a crypto icon set very fast and the response from customers was great.

What do you think constitutes a “good” icon?

A good icon does not need a text explanation next to it, people should just see what it depicts. Also, in this over-saturated market an original style is needed to stand out. It doesn’t have to be fashionable though.

Any thoughts as to where icon trends are heading in the next few years (style, usage. etc.)?

Tough question. I think there will be some new trends and changes but generally speaking I’m surprised about how long trends survive in graphic design. I mean, for how long is that watercolor trend going on for now?

What do you find to be the greatest struggle(s) for icon creators and graphic designers in general?

Coming up with good concepts. As an icon designer you should have a lot of knowledge about the themes you’re designing. A lot of designers are just looking at each other. You have to thoroughly investigate which icons people need for a certain theme.

When settling on a concept, which is more important to you : immediately recognizable or outside the box?

Immediately recognizable

Do you love, hate or feel indifferent toward promoting your own work? Do you have a strategy for reaching icon users you find most effective?

I like to come up with original strategies to promote our work. Many designers just put it on Instagram and call it a day. I don’t think that’s very effective.

Is Flat-Icons your full-time job or a side project?  If side project, what’s your day-time gig?

I’m a full-time entrepreneur. Flat-icons is one of my businesses.

Do you listen to music when you work and if so, what are you listening to?

Yes, Solumun!! (and some more of course, but a lot of Solumun. If you’re into dance music with a relaxed vibe check out his set on Boiler Room Tulum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk6Xst6euQk )

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