Hi David thanks for taking the time to chat with Signl. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Hey, thank you as well. I’m an illustrator and designer interested in exploring all types of media as long its fun for me to create something with it. I grew up in the 80s with both traditional and digital (deluxe paint!) outlets for painting and drawing and lots of comics and cartoons for inspiration. I kept up with art through college then ended up moving to North Carolina to work at the Iconfactory while also exploring illustration through my personal work. I made some great friends and professional experience there and ended up co-founding Impending to work on iPhone projects like Clear, Hatch, and Heads Up. I also continue my personal work and have dived into animation and 3D to round out my traditional and digital 2D backgrounds.
Walk us through your typical day?
Most days start with coffee and hang out time with my wife, two daughters and dogs. Then I check mail and messages for anything pressing before jumping into the current art or design projects on my mind. The afternoon is interspersed with family or design collaboration time with co-workers as needed and finishing up any loose ends or emails that need responses. The rest of the evenings are usually family or gaming/personal work time or just exploring some internet rabbit holes before bed :D
Are there any websites you look at every day and why?
Tumblr and twitter are my biggest daily stops, I follow a lot of other illustrators, designers, and creative people so its an endless stream of incredible work and inspiration that I love to soak up and be amazed by. You never know what’s going to turn up and I try to have exposure to a wide variety of people with backgrounds in different areas to have a wider view of the world and avoid the echo chambers and blind spots.
What tools could you not live without?
For me all comes down to my hands and eyes :D Beyond that, I probably couldn’t do my job without my sketchbook, cintiq/tablet, and photoshop or other creative software. It just depends on the problem needing solved but those are my go-to tools.
What would you say is your strongest skill and how have you honed that skill over the years?
I’m always looking for ways to inject a bit of fun or personality into things and avoid feeling too structured or sterile. Not always over the top but just enough so that the work feels like it has a bit of soul and character. I’ve learned to keep things loose and flexible with how I set up layers and approaches, staying with sketches and basic elements as long as possible before tightening things up and just trying to stay aware of the bigger picture and who’s going to be using or viewing the work and in what contexts.
What are you passionate about besides your work?
Everything kind of ends up flowing back into the work, but when I’m not working, I’m enjoying time with my family and pets, being outdoors or just people watching in the park or such. It’s cheesy, but there’s so many magical little moments or interactions that can’t quite be captured so its fun to me that even in the most mundane experiences there’s usually a surprising amount to discover. I also like puns and attempt to hone my dad skills as often as I can get away with it.
What type of projects do you enjoy working on the most?
I like any project with a juicy challenge in it, solving the problem is half the fun and more so if its something that I don’t have a lot of experience in and can research and get immersed in another bit of the world that I’m not usually exposed to.
Who do you think is doing good things in the design industry right now?
Not sure there’s specific ‘who’ but the overall industry seems to have a huge undercurrent of making design and technology more approachable as technology is exposed to a wider variety of people, with a focus on improving their daily life. Although ironically, the best design seems to be trying to make the design and technology as invisible as possible :P
What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?
Learn the fundamentals of your profession. For me, the basic principles of art and design and really having a strong base there has enabled me to move through different medium and software and really use them as the best tools for solving the problem instead of letting those tools dictate the end results.
And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
Same as the previous, really learn those basic design principles and how to leverage them. Then find some good communities and inspirations that projects that you can be passionate about and provide a fun place to learn and experiment. Also, adjust your mental approach to embrace failure as the best way to learn and be prepared to get a lot of things wrong in order to figure out the best solutions are and try to enjoy that process of searching for them.