Can you tell me a little bit about your path to becoming a designer and how you got where you are now?Ever since I can remember I’ve loved to draw but it wasn’t until the 7th or 8th grade that I was first introduced to graphic design. At that point I had a buddy who was wanting to “starting a band” and he wanted me to draw up a t-shirt design for him. His dad owned a screen printing/sign shop in town and the next day he showed up at P.E. (the last hour of the day) and ask me if I wanted to draw pictures for his shop. Eventually this gave me a copy of Photoshop and Illustrator and from there I was hooked.
By the time high school came around, I had bought a small screen printing press of my own and had been getting better acquainted with what I had found to be graphic design. I went to Oklahoma State Institute for Technology after high school, graduated with an associates in design and immediately started working with the agency I had been interning with the last semester of college.
Two years into my agency job I had begun to miss drawing seeing as I hadn’t really drawn much of anything since college. So I started doodling any chance I could get at work and posting my work to instagram which was just starting to catch some steam around that time (2011/2012). One thing led to another and eventually I was hired at a start up in Southern California doing hand lettering and illustration full time. Another year into that, I decided to make the move into freelance and I’ve been working under the banner of Yondr Studio ever since!
Lately, I’ve been shifting once again towards a more fun/color style of illustration that feels more like me than anything I’ve really done before. It takes a while to find yourself as an artist and I’m really happy to feel as though I have finally gotten close. I’m not sure we ever 100% find ourselves. With the current pool of work I’m compiling, I’m hoping to move more into editorial and book illustrations, with children’s books being the ultimate goal. We’ll see what happens!
What does a typical work day look like for you?I generally try to get about around 6:30am or 7am, make some coffee, do some reading, and spend some time with my wife. I always find my day goes better when I take some time to remember the important things and why it is that I’m doing what it is that I’m doing. From there I try and work on a personal project until around 9am before starting on client work. I try and be done with work around 5pm or 6pm and get outside for a bit since I work from home and don’t get out of the house for most of the day! The evenings are spent either working on another personal project, watching a movie with my wife or hanging out with friends.
Was there ever a big mistake you made early in your career and were able to take something valuable from it?
Mistakes I’ve made in the past often times involve me working on a project in order to find a result that I’m pleased with rather than seeking to please the client. It’s a daily struggle, but every mistake reminds me how important it is to put the needs of the client before my own and stop being such a pretentious artist. I’m just a designer. It’s not like my work is curing diseases.
I would say to make sure your motives are pure and that at the bottom of it all, people and relationships are at the core of your business. If you’re just in it to get famous and make a bunch of money you’re going to be so frustrated all the way to the top of the mountain. And once you get to the top of the mounted you’re going to stay frustrated as you tirelessly bat away the competition. Make what you do about helping others to achieve the goals that they have set before themselves and you’ll find more fulfillment in that than you could have ever realized.
If you could give one piece of advice to another designer or entrepreneur starting out, what would you say?
Can you remember one of the first things you designed or created that you were proud of?
Growing up I would always draw your standard airplane, dinosaur, and team mascot but once I thought I would take a crack at doing a portrait drawing. My mom had a few dolls that she had made that she would keep in a cabinet so I figured I would try drawing one of them to make her proud. Long story short, I held up my drawing, she turned around, and as soon as she saw the drawing, which I was very proud of, she burst out laughing. It was pretty humbling. My mom is my biggest fan but she’s also got a great way of reminding you not to take yourself so seriously.
“We don’t have to agree with everyone but I still firmly believe that we should show respect and kindness to everyone.”
I’m assuming that the person reading this is doing so shortly after I have written these words and if you are you know what kind of a state the U.S. is in. I’m not sure “The United States of America” could be any more un-united. I say that to say, few people seem interested in having conversations anymore. We’re all so certain that we are right and others are wrong that we’ve forgotten how to simply show kindness and respect to others. We don’t have to agree with everyone but I still firmly believe that we should show respect and kindness to everyone. After all, insults are never the best way to win someone over to your point of view. I hope this shirt serves as a reminder of the way we would like to be treated. When we are treated with kindness we are more likely to trust others and once trust has been established we are more likely to allow others in. At this point we can actually have conversations and see the heart behind people’s motives. Kindness will open the door, not bitterness and pride.
Why did you choose to make this design for The Designer Series and what does it mean to you?
Can you talk a little bit about the process that you used to make this piece?I began on paper as I do with every design I work on. I made a few rough pencil sketches before I worked out the general layout and lettering style that I wanted to work with at which point I brought the sketch into the computer. I generally ink the sketch on paper though with this one, I actually drew the type out in Photoshop using my tablet. And that’s about it! I vectorized the type once I was done in photoshop using Cocoaprotrace. That would be my one secret if there are any. It’s a sketchy little program but it works wonders.
Are you working on any new projects right now?I’m in the process of finishing up some sketches for a children’s book that I’ve written and am currently looking to pitch to an agent or publisher! I’m really excited about that. Beyond that, I’m working with a large outdoors company on some illustrations and animated pieces for an ad campaign they are running this fall. It’s been a blast to work on. I can’t wait to share about it.
Honestly, illustrating and writing children’s book is the number one bucket list item. The older I get the less interested I am in working with big companies and the more interested I am in working more closely with kids. My wife is a second grade teacher and it is always so much fun illustrating things for her to use in her classroom. Kids see the world in such a beautiful way and I want to get back to that place with them if at all possible. I hope my future is spent serving kids with my art in some way.
Design bucket list time: is there one creative experience or project you'd love to work on in the next couple years that you have never had the chance to?
THE FINAL PRODUCT