Introduction

Zach Roszczewski is a freelance icon & illustration designer living in Encinitas, California. His passion is crafting pixel perfect icon sets and illustrations that are consistent, functional, and beautiful. Outside of design, Zach likes to spend time catching waves along the California coast and exploring the natural world.

How did you get into design? Walk us through your career journey to where you are now.

As a young child, I was constantly creating with my three brothers. We were inspired by my dad who loved to paint and supported our love for creating. We’d draw for hours, build epic lego creations, and create videos and stop motion animations just for fun.

In college, I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a Graphic Design concentration at Central Michigan University in 2012. That’s where my passion for illustrative design and branding blossomed.

Then I flew across the nation and accepted my dream job at a startup in Santa Cruz, California to work as a web designer/illustrator for Octopus Creative. It was an epic opportunity that taught me all of the inner workings of a design studio. I realized my passion for icon and illustration design here.

After the years of experience I gained from Octopus Creative, I said thank you and headed south to the sunny city of Encinitas, California in 2014 to pursue my dream of running my own design studio with a sole focus on crafting premium icons and illustrations.

With the extra time on my hands, I noticed a need in the design universe for a consistent and premium icon set that could be easily accessible for all at an affordable price. That’s where months of long nights and thousands of icons later, Flaticons.co was born. After creating all the icon sets for my “side hustle”, it really helped jumpstart my icon design niche and helped hone my skills and perfect my craft.

Now in year 8 of running my own studio, I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing clients such as Airbnb, Facebook, GoPro, and Bose to name a few. I’m so grateful to be able to spread joy through design to so many people, and plan to continue pushing fun into their everyday experiences. I’m more inspired than ever and am always searching for new ways to push the boundaries in contemporary design.

What advice would you offer for pairing icons with typography? How much does typography influence your icon design process?

When pairing icons with typography, you can kick it up a notch in terms of cohesiveness and create similar forms in the icons that you find within the typography. For instance, if the typeface has sharp, crisp corners and endpoints, you should also use the same structure for the icons. 

For the Bose project, we specifically chose a specific weight of typeface “Gotham Book” that had the same stroke weight as the icons, so that they both maintained a similar visual weight in the interface.




You can also take specific outlines from the typeface, such as the shape of the letter “O” and use it for any of your circular icons. Any unique curves you find in the typeface you can take that outline and use that same curve when you need to create a curved element of an icon.

Overall, you want to keep a similar vibe between the typeface and the icon set, so that the interface feels like it is part of a family, not competing with each other.

What things do you think through when designing icons as a part of an existing brand or design system?

My first step in finding inspiration for the icon system is starting with the actual logo/branding of the business. The design elements that I find in the logo will most often inspire the style/forms of the icons themselves.

For instance, in the Houzz project, the brand logo was super simple and geometric, but had a signature angle in the H that represented the slanted roof of a house. So I took those elements and created super simple, geometric forms with sharp edges, and added in that angular approach to the icons when available, which created an edgy aesthetic that I felt complimented the new brand very well.




I also take inspiration from the company itself and what they represent and what audience they are targeting. For a more friendly, personable brand such as Airbnb, I went with rounded corners/endpoints and an overall more playful vibe to speak to their overall tone they were trying to achieve.


Conclusion

You can connect with Zach on Instagram and see more of his work on his website. If you’re looking for a top notch icon designer for your brand—look no further. Zach is one of the best in the business.

Many thanks to Zach for this interview.