Leon Ephraim — Yummygum
Co-Founder and Creative Director at Amsterdam based design agency Yummygum with an eye for detail.
Not sure as I accidentally entered the design scene from 3D animation. I was always into shapes, a lot more than cartoons or characters. People in my industry always thought I am weird saying that. They said "Characters are so expressive, they act, they have emotions".
Well, a cube can do that as well. And I was always more interested in abstract forms or mediums rather than something structural. I think design found me, when motion design started becoming a trend around 2011-2013.
I wake up as late as possible. I feel brain-dead when I wake up early. I eat breakfast and from there depends on if it's a working day or not. In the case it is, I just grind till late afternoon. If not, I usually ride my bicycle for 1-2 hours.
Then I practice in Houdini or do random R&D. I spend A LOT of time in front of my computer during the day. I don't typically go out grabbing drinks and such any more. I prefer visiting friend's houses and chill at nights or have people over. I sleep as late as possible, night inspires me and brings me peace!
Everywhere. I think inspiration can come from every little experience. I don't spend too much time on social media or browsing other people's work. I found out that if I keep stalking on other people's work much, I end up copying it subconsciously.
I don't try to look out for inspiration, I think it comes naturally when you interact with people or situations. Other than that, I love taking screenshots of movie scenes and keep em in a folder. Cinematography plays a major role in my work.
I am not into product design at all, I might say. Although I couldn't ignore All Star Chuck Taylor CX series. Not sure if they would match with my style, though. Maybe it's because FutureDeluxe did such a brilliant job on advertising them.
Honestly, I am not particularly proud of my work. I always hate what I do in the end, although I enjoy the process. I don't undervalue my abilities by saying that. I am just aware that better is always possible. And I strive for that.
If I had to pick one project, that would be "Mamba Out". It's a tribute I created in 2020 for Kobe Bryant. This project also marked the beginning of my new freelance path and re introduced me to the public as an individual director.
Ha! A lot, as I diversify too much. I don't think I have a particular style, which kinda makes me sad. I think studios/clients are aware of that and try to book me in anything. From very colourful mograph designs to very dark, realistic title sequences.
So the main challenge is how to stay on top of your game when you don't commit to anything specific. And that is tough because I always feel as jack of all trades but master of none. Recently, I started looking into Houdini in order to expand my design language by using procedural setups. This is also super challenging, as Houdini is probably the most difficult 3D software out there. But I always prefer to challenge myself and evolve rather than sit on what I know.
What helped me is developing the ability to look back and objectively evaluate my work. Celebrations and awards are nice, but where you actually stand in this industry in comparison with the people you admire is what really counts. Aiming very high also helps because we don't usually reach what we aim. But we can go close enough, and that is still something important.
Lastly, I would say soft skills are equally important with design skills. Being communicative, kind, steady, confident (but not cocky), and never ever… miss a deadline. And don't forget to ask 1 million questions! You would be surprised how good our community is.