Nim Ben-Reuven: simultaneously frightened and in awe of the world
Little known fact - Nim is made of cardboard

Nim is an extremely modest and exceptionally skilled designer. His use of self deprecating humour and demotivational quotes give his work a certain dark flair that stands out in the often too serious design world.

We asked him a bunch of questions, these are his answers.

What city do you live in?

Brooklyn, New York, USA

What is your background?

I studied Sociology and Police/Community Relations at my undergraduate university and Communications Design in graduate school. After that, I apprenticed with the lettering legend, Tony DiSpigna for a bit.

Where do you work?

I currently work as a freelancer in a small room filled with cat photos, cardboard robots and stuffed animals in a very famous design studio I refer to as “my apartment.”

When did you first start pursuing art/typography?

Since I was a lil’ weird, googly-eyed child, I was making comic strips and odd paintings that weren’t too terrible, I guess. I only started being excited about lettering around 2012.

What are you currently working on?

Currently I’m working on a variety of projects ranging from logo design, typography for television title sequences and illustrations for some cat-related products. Which is different from my usual design of custom elegant scripts because I’ve probably oversaturated the market a bit with my scribbly noodles.

What was your first commercial job, how did you get it?

The first steady job I got in design (after being rejected from every job I applied for during the stretch of an entire year), was an ongoing freelance gig for Lauren Bush Lauren and her company, FEED. I had given a business card of mine to a barista working at a cafe, who, months later gave it to a regular customer from FEED who had asked him if he knew any designers. Totally random. Remember to tip the barista well- you never know how they may change your life…

What do you want to be better at/what are you not good at?

I consider myself not good at much besides being patient. So the things I’d like to be better at include: Shooting lasers from my eyeballs, sleeping, talking in cohesive sentences, collaborating with anyone on anything, growing more hair on my head, animating stuff, being more funny, being flexible, writing, sketching, and on and on and on. You get the picture.

One of the most important things to me is not taking things too seriously, ever.

What can’t you live without?

Can’t possibly live without my brain or my heart. The other stuff I can deal without given enough time and practice and medical attention.

How do you stay productive when client work is slow?

I’m often more productive the less client work I have. I think the fact that I’m not making money forces me to distract myself with completely useless personal projects like making videos with a cardboard version of myself that constantly fails at everything. I tend to have delusions of grandeur with all sorts of personal projects, thinking they will lead to some amazing new world of creative work I can exploit for monetary gains. Those thoughts allow me to initiate personal projects very easily. But usually they end up falling flat and then I sulk for a few days/weeks/months.

What is important to you?

One of the most important things to me is not taking things too seriously, ever. And also being kind to people, animals and plants. Except mosquitos, fleas and ticks. I am actually quite unkind to those.

What do you wish you had known when first starting as a designer?

I wish I had known how ridiculous the design world is in terms of how serious it takes itself when I first started out as a designer.

Looking back on your design career, what is something you persisted with but should have stopped?

I used to think that as I got better at what I did, clients would eventually put more trust in my judgement in terms of aesthetics and design choices, and I persisted for a very long time in thinking that way. Perhaps I still have such hopes. But often the reality of it is that many clients will NEVER trust a designer’s judgement over their own, no matter how experienced or talented that designer may be.

How do you cope with a creative block?

When I get creative blocks, I deal with them by getting real depressed, mildly angry, somewhat jealous, incredibly cynical, markedly nihilistic, and then I immediately start looking for another career that is more fulfilling.

What is your spirit animal?

I won’t lie, I appreciate the aloofness, self reliance, curiosity and tentative nature of cats. I also like nocturnal primates with huge eyeballs. They seem simultaneously frightened and awe of the world around them. If you mixed the two into a hybrid night-cat-monkey-thing, that would be close to it. Take away the cuteness and you have me in a nutshell.

What book (or books) would you recommend to someone you just met?

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein for a wake up call to how harmful and destructive US government policies regarding unregulated capitalism and the forces controlling them have been to the people of the world. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewsky for one of the best scary stories. The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway for the best sci-fi twist ending ever.

What is the most important lesson you have learned?

If there is something important you want to tell someone, tell them.

Hypothetical scenario: Someone has 6 months to go from amateur to as competent in typography design as possible. Aside from lots of practice, what do you tell them to research and work on?

If someone has only six months to become a competent typographer, I would say spend that six months preparing exercises for the next several years because competency will not come in such a short timeframe. Find typographers you admire and try to take workshops with them, constantly experiment with your own ideas, study letterforms at a very magnified level, and above all, be patient with yourself.

Take us through a typical work day from when you get up to when you go to bed.

My typical day is as follows:

4:30 am
Wake up suddenly from night terrors. Wander around the apartment for an hour trying unsuccessfully to understand my dreams. Go back to sleep.

6:00 am
Wake up suddenly, thinking I have a meeting to be at or an important presentation to give. Realize that I don’t ever have to do either of those. Go back to sleep.

9:00 am
Wake up for real. play with my stuffed animals for a bit until I’m ready to interact with real people.

10:00 am
Go to a cafe to draw for a bit and stare creepily at all the real people in there, wondering if it was a bad idea to bring my stuffed animals with me (which I have surrounded myself with at the cafe table I’m sitting at).

11:30 am
Do some “real” work, whatever that means.

11:45 am
Get distracted by the internet.

3:00 pm
Realize I just spent 3 hours looking at memes on the internet.

3:15 pm
Get an angry call from client demanding the files I promised them months ago.

3:20 pm
Work on those files for the first time.

4:45 pm
Send files to client.

4:46 pm

Get an angry call from client asking why the design files look like a 3rd grader with developmental issues made them. Hide under my bed until client stops calling me. Remind myself to change my phone number.

6:00 pm
Look for food. Find food. Eat food.

7:00 pm
Stare at the ceiling, wondering if I’ve forgotten to do something important over the course of the day.

10:00 pm
Realize I’ve been staring aimlessly, without a single thought in my head, for the last 3 hours.

10:30 pm
Read a self help book about focussing concentration and attention.

10:35 pm
Fall asleep.

Describe yourself in one word.


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