Andrew Means Newsletter

Andrew didn’t go to art school, he was a philosophy major. His freshman year of college he was elected dorm head and one of his responsibilities was to produce a newsletter once a week. This is how he began his career in design. Creating weekly newsletters turned into learning the basics of web design and soon enough, Andrew was an Art Director at a weekly magazine.

Now Andrew is running his own design firm, Transom Design. With six employees and a constant stream of work, the company is running on all cylinders.

Q&A Newsletter Graphic


What area of design does Transom specialize in?

We do visual identity really well. At least, we enjoy it the most. It’s a design problem in its purest form, almost like poetry. You’re trying to capture the essence of a brand or a company and distill it down to something that is very simple and memorable and easily replicated.


Where did the name “Transom” come from?

On a boat, the transom  is the flat part in the back, most of the time that’s where the name is written. So, It’s a structural part of the boat and without that the boat can’t function, but it’s also an architectural piece; the beam across a window or a door. We loved how the word sounded and looks. We had bunch of different naming ideas and I can’t remember the moment exactly, but I think I was looking through a book on boat terminology and it clicked.


Do you have a philosophy when it comes to naming a company or  brand?

I think there is a fine line between memorable and easily digestible. I love names that don’t bring a lot of meaning to the table with them. There might be some meaning implied, but not a ton. Take Transom, for example; it’s easily to parse, it look just like it sounds, maybe you’ve heard it once or twice, but it’s not in the common vernacular. It’s an empty vessel that you can then fill in with the actual brand. But I don’t really have a mantra, there are so many considerations that go into naming, so something that works for one company will not work for another.


How did you land on What domains did you have before that? was the obvious choice out of the gate, but that was unavailable. So we just experimented with different permutations of putting Transom somewhere in the domain. We had and, at one point we had, which was terrible. People often asked, ‘what’s your company, transomco?’ Then we had and I thought, we aren’t really transom labs, we are a design company. I eventually saw that .design was coming out and I thought that if we got there early we could get our name and we did. Since getting, the person who owns actually reached out to us to sell it.


Are you going to buy it?

No, we could totally afford it, but, aesthetically, is exactly what we’re going for. It doesn’t get any simpler than it is now, it’s who-we-are-dot-what-we-do.


How has the reaction been?

It’s been really good. I was actually thinking that we’d get more questions about it, but most people just think it’s cool. Some people we have to educate and the rest just go with the flow.  


Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring designers?

For me, design was what I did in my spare time and it became a real passion. You can certainly be a designer without that, but it sure helps to have it. I know a lot of people who decided that they wanted to be a writer or a photographer, or whatever creative discipline and I would ask them, ” what have you written lately,” or “what photographs have you taken lately?” and they would provide excuses or talk about a class they were going to take. Invariably, I would ask them a year later and they would no longer be interested. Whatever you think your life will be as a designer, that’s not what it’s going to be like. You should be a designer because the act of designing is innately pleasurable to your soul. I would hope that people discover that they want to be a designer because they find themselves designing.