How did you break into the field?
Like most people these days, I wiggled my way into design with a series of little web gigs, posters, flyers, and illustrations (in varying degrees of competence). For a while, I was on retainer to design the identity, web site, and print ads for a team of real estate agents; I designed postcards, programs, and whatnot for the theater groups I acted in; I beefed up my techy skills working at an Apple retailer. All little bits of experience that built up an okay freelancer's résumé.
Please tell us a little about your design work history.
First, an explanation of how Ashley and I work: she draws the line art in black ink and pencil; I scan, tidy, and wave Photoshop at it; and we collaborate on the final colors.
I was working as a production designer at an agency in St. Louis (menu, coupon, crop lines, repeat) when Ashley and I listed our first print on Etsy in March 2006. A few months later, we started to get some attention from craft and design blogs, along with offers for shows from a few galleries. Ashley quit her bartending job that July, and I was able to quit my day job in early 2007.
Since then, the Etsy shop has grown to 10 pages of prints, buttons, postcards, porcelain pieces, and originals, and we've licensed illustrations to Urban Outfitters, Madison Park Greetings, American Greetings, My Favorite Mirror, and several other companies and bands. We've had work in shows around the world.
These days, we're doing a lot of custom portraits, so I spend less time with the printers, and more time zoomed in at 100%, cleaning up hairlines.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Art classes are unique -- we can all share in the process, and recalibrate and experiment long before the work's done, unlike, say, math, where most of that happens quickly in your own head. An art project can be all inside-out, and we can massage its guts while it grows. If the class is engaged in the work, it's easy to get everyone to a very high level.
What classes are you teaching this year?
ART 210, Digital Imaging and Illustration.
Please share some links to sites that inspire you.
Apart from the usuals (Drawn!, Design*Sponge) and a few Flickr groups, I subscribe to feeds for Monoscope, Kitsune Noir, Under Consideration's Brand New, and Notcot. Lately I dig the design links on Minima. Junk Charts scratches that Tufteian itch, and JJJJound hasn't updated forever but is ace when it does. My friend Ivan's board on the Image Comics site has great comic art links, and the monthly covers threads are great.
Please share the link to your web site and/or blog?
Any advice for working on advertising or large scale or ? projects?
Choose your clients carefully. You'll never change them.
Unless you're Don Draper. And you're not.
Any advice for coming up with strong conceptual solutions?
It still freaks me out when designers get a brief and run straight to Illustrator. That's putting a straitjacket on your brain! I am a firm supporter of the dirty thumbnail, pencil on paper, until your brain and your eyes work through their problems and decide what they agree on. Things to ask yourself: would I make this my computer desktop? Would I put this on my wall?