What Fuels the Designer?
As writers, we often feel disconnected when it comes to visual arts. It’s almost as if designers and writers live in two separate worlds of thought, even though we are working in the same space and constantly interacting. From our day-to-day to our seemingly opposing skill sets, everything just seems different.
The more we thought about it, the more we wondered what else is different about the function of the writer versus that of the designer. What keeps them motivated? Through a decent amount of nagging, we were able to sit down with some of our designer colleagues and learn more about what inspires them. Below are some of their responses.
For Andy, there’s a wide array of influences and inspirations. Artists such as Si Scott push him to continue honing his skills as a designer. Andy describes Scott’s style as very “ink-based and graceful,” which lends itself to Si’s role as not only a designer, but a tattooist. Scott’s seamless transitions from whimsical pen-and-ink illustration to typography, his use of contrasting line-weights, and his commitment to fine detail continually challenge Andy to take closer and closer looks at his work.
Jamie Hewlett, another of Andy’s influences, has a very fun, comic-book style (you likely know him as the character artist for the band, Gorrilaz). The expressions, proportions, and balance of Hewlett’s characters create an oddly surreal experience that’s recently started sneaking into more of Andy’s work.
Traditional art isn’t the only motivator for Andy. Games like Skyrim demonstrate how art intersects the entertainment and gaming industries. “The constant bombardment of amazing landscapes in this game still baffles me,” he says. He also argues that Final Fantasy revolutionized the gaming industry with “stunning, hand-drawn backgrounds and pre-rendered graphics.”
But at the end of the day, Andy’s inspiration to always better his craft comes from his parents, which, he admits, sounds super cheesy.
Sarah values intersection. From tattoo design and Art Nouveau, to Art Deco and vintage travel posters, Sarah’s aesthetic thrives on the utility of function and fashion. She particularly identifies with lettering artist, illustrator and author, Jessica Hische. Sarah also enjoys browsing the web for other sources of inspiration. Two of her favorite sites are meant to act as daily inspirations blogs for designers and enthusiasts. The Dieline has become a top website for package design and now hosts its own design conference and design competition. Colossal is a well-known blog dedicated to art and visual culture.
“A style or movement that can encompass such a large realm of influence is worthy of at least a little respect. I really love the merging of aesthetic and purpose, so I do look to a lot of visual/fine art sources as well as more practical influences for ideas.”
Minimalist geometry, mythos, and gratuitous amounts of caffeine work to fuel Sarah’s creative process. It’s that intersection of mathematics and symmetry, fable and familiar that merge the aesthetic of fine arts with the utility of design and function.
And if all else fails, Craigslist’s Missed Connections is full of interesting reads to get her creative juices flowing.
According to Zach, it really depends on the day. “It” being what inspires him. “Some days are really emo, others, really chill,” he says. Two people that he’ll single out, however, are Paul Robertson and Joshua M. Smith. Zach considers Robertson his biggest influence, with his dynamic blend of color and literal movement highlighting an absurd, yet light-hearted joy. Smith, on the other hand offers a much darker dynamic, using simple color palates to create stark contrasts and leave the viewer confident in what they’re seeing, but uneasy about what’s actually there. It’s clean, but uncomfortable, and a tool Zach is all too happy to apply to his personal work.
Going into the “really chill” phase of what inspires him, like most of us, Zach constantly finds inspiration in music. His top choice right now is Odesza, an electronic duo from Seattle that somehow keeps him on his toes just enough to propel his creativity.
For Zach, however, no list of inspirations would be complete without some form of graffiti. Right now, he is following the work of Flying Förtress, “His work makes me want to keep things simple and clean but still convey the big picture.” Zach isn’t subtle about his belief that more people should be following graffiti artists for their unrepentant approach to craft and innovative styles.