Brandon Rike Graphic Artist Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:37:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Behind Blurryface Mon, 01 Jun 2015 22:54:22 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The creation of the artwork and branding for Twenty One Pilots‘ sophomore album Blurryface was an in-depth, honest, and layered observation of the concepts behind the record, as well as an overall representation of the band, and how they are perceived.


Tyler Joseph, the singer and songwriter of the band, introduced me to the character over lunch. He explained the elements of ourselves that we hate, and the constant battle against these traits. In order to add clarity to this internal struggle, he gave a name to these negative attributes: “Blurryface”. This way, we can attempt to define the struggle, and to see the battle we are actually facing.

But Blurryface isn’t that black and white. There are more layers to him than described. He can either be represented as sad, angry, evil, or deceptive. He has a tendency to draw you in, but only to pull you down. Tyler mentioned a vision of his mutilated face, and all of the dread associated with the elusive enemy. There is something vague about him, and something that cannot be completely described. No matter what your interpretation of Blurryface is, it’s safe to say that he remains something that we try to hide, and not show to the outside world.


With the introduction of Blurryface, comes the prominence of the color red. In our quest to understand and define Blurryface more, we soon realized that the band’s previously used blue color had no place in this new narrative. The story is black and white, but with red. Red, the color of passion, violence, and anger.

The genre of Twenty One Pilots is famously up for interpretation. With every attempt at labeling the duo, the classification of Schizophrenic Pop is the only label that made sense. While critics may attempt to use this idea of an undefined genre against the band, Twenty One Pilots have clearly embraced their tendency to provide their listeners with stark dynamics both within the songs themselves, and across the album as a whole. The album takes you on a journey, giving you one new experience after another throughout all fourteen carefully-crafted songs.

After getting involved with the band’s merchandise graphics just after the release of their previous album, Vessel, I had the opportunity to dig into the various facets of everything Twenty One Pilots. What stood out to me more than anything was the dedication of their fan base. Affectionately labeled the “Skeleton Clique” the fans of Twenty One Pilots dig into every element of this group, and leave no stone unturned. They proudly proclaim their love for the band, and find meaning into every lyric and visual that the band presents.

With all of the information that I had gathered, I held onto three key elements that would help me brand the Blurryface album cycle; First, find a way to represent Blurryface in a obscure but potent manner. Second, create visuals that resemble the songs, as well as the mish-mash of the collection as a whole. And finally, reward the fans for their support of the band, and give them new journeys of discovery as they dig deep into all of the elements of this album.


So the ideas came. Early on, I began an obsession with the idea of a collection of patterns. From a merchandise standpoint, the patterns would lend themselves well to a usable element on garments, so I wanted to be proactive about each element — thinking ahead on how versatile each visual would be for other applications. In addition, patterns have a way of conveying an overall vibe or emotion. I began a deep search into compiling patterns that would accurately convey the feeling of each song. I soon decided that black and white patterns would be much more portable than colored patterns. If the patterns stayed colorless, the red would be able to bleed in when appropriate. The other thing that I liked best about the patterns was that, in addition to representing the feeling of each song, the collection of all fourteen of the patterns would visually represent the diversity of the album as a whole. If one pattern represents one song, then the whole collection would then represent the complete album. I referred to this as the “tapestry,” where all of the patterns were seemingly haphazardly thrown together, which, in it’s very nature, was quite representative of the band.

Every decision consistently had a meaning behind it. Even when I attempted to throw things together, there was still a method. There are so many layers to this band, from the lyrics, to the genre complications, to the personalities of the two members. It was only fitting that the branding also contain multiple layers.

Now, before I dig even deeper into artwork, I’d like to describe my own intentions behind this artwork. I have made my career as a graphic artist in the music industry. The majority of my work is creating graphics for artist’s merchandise, a branch of the music business that has become one of the main revenue streams for the artist. What once seemed somewhat insignificant has made it’s debut into the limelight of how an artist is represented. While the artist gives you the experience of the performance, I get to create the tangible good that you walk away from the experience with. The t-shirt.

I take great pride in designing merchandise graphics. While it may rest low on the totem pole of sophisticated job titles, being a graphic tee artist allows me the privilege of constantly being interested in the artist, how they want to be perceived, and how their public perceives them. Over time, the task becomes fascinating.

So, when asked to create the branding and album artwork for Twenty One Pilot’s album Blurryface, I knew that my approach to the task would be too intense to make logical sense out of. See, I care so much about every little experience of this artwork. This in-depth approach rarely makes economical sense in the fast-paced music industry. The goal is to do something quick, and get it out the door. My goal, at least for this special album, was to create something with multiple layers of meaning as a love letter to such a dedicated fan base.


The first step in rewarding the dedicated fan base was to sacrifice the established bars symbol for the simple symbol that fans often included in their social media profiles and comments. Instead of a solidified logo, I thought that we should give the fans their logo. A typed bar, a hyphen, and a slash. Introducing the new Twenty One Pilots symbol: |-/ . This way, the fans have the ability to create their favorite band’s logo correctly, and spread the word throughout their online lives. A simple ode to a dedicated fanbase.


The next step was to establish a new logotype that was a little more representative of the tone of the record. The previous thick logo was traded for an all caps, thin type, that also incorporated crossed letter O, another theme established on social media.

One of the unique aspects of creating the branding for the sophomore record is the opportunity to have a response to the tendencies of the band’s following. The new record was a progression from the previous, so I wanted to implement familiar elements that would help the fans come along to this new chapter of the band. So, in addition to a new logotype and a new symbol, I created a new icon set including marks for Skeleton Clique, Alien Josh, nine dots, Few Proud Emotional, as well as a logotype for the album title.

Tyler showed me nine dots, and his idea for making the nine dots resemble the bars logo. The idea, simple in nature, seemed to be iconic enough for the album cover. Add in the patterns, and the narrative behind them, and something began taking shape. Incorporating the Blurryface character as another “layer” both figuratively and literally, was perhaps my favorite finishing touch. I especially like the idea that you can “take him out.”


So when it comes to the story of the cover, I prefer to tell it in the reverse order that the package is opened. We are a culmination of contrasting traits, represented by the tapestry on the cover of the booklet. Our Blurryface often interferes with those traits, and alters how they are presented — represented by the transparent Blurryface image that covers the booklet. But we manage to package the mess inside, so that we can present ourselves to the world with something that appears put-together, under control, and with no visible imperfections — which is all encapsulated into the nine holes that button-up the otherwise haphazard contents. You may buy the album in the store that looks seemingly simple, but as you explore it, you soon find out how conflicted and complicated it all is. Much like how we all tend to present ourselves to the outside world, only allowing those close to us to see behind the layers.

If it weren’t for a rabid, obsessive fan base, all of this detail would be in vain. The fans gave me a reason to dig deep into the songs and their meanings. They gave me a reason to have deeper conversations with Tyler, to find out what really makes him tick. Graphic Tees come and go, but to dictate the feeling of an entire album cycle, and a chapter in the lives of both the band and their following – this was an opportunity that I didn’t take lightly, and didn’t want to squander.

Dedication deserves to be rewarded. In every element of Blurryface, we are opening a door for the fans to come in and discover more than what’s on the surface. Since long before I came onboard, the band preached the idea of “discovery.” This was an idea that stayed a prominent driving force behind every decision. So, as a reward to the Skeleton Clique – I proudly present the artwork for Blurryface.

Dig in, establish theories, find meaning, and continue discovering the many facets of this band. This is your band, and this is your artwork.

Pick up your copy of Blurryface.

-Brandon Rike

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Adventures In Design Podcast Interview Fri, 07 Nov 2014 11:46:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> AID-Blog
I had a great conversation with Mark Brickey of the Adventures In Design podcast recently. I’d love for you to check it out. Here are the details:

AID-AM 31 Brandon Rike “Hardcore Graduate”

Brandon Rike learned his discipline in life from playing music in a hardcore band. Everything that he learned to fight for in the world of music was transformed into a very efficient career in designing for that same music industry. Brandon designs with discipline and structure and creates a massive amount of projects for his always growing roster of clients. Hear his blue collar approach to the arts and take a ounce of it with you to improve your own output and profitability.

Listen on iTunes
Purchase Episode at AID Market
Watch Live Interview

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Racing Machetes Tees – 15 Bones Thu, 06 Nov 2014 12:43:22 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Racing Machetes Tees
A while back, I launched a small run of tees for The Racing Machetes. As life got busy, I temporarily shut down the webstore – with hopes of opening it back up. I’ve opened the store back up, and orders are speeding out the door. This first edition of tees is the first of many to come, but possibly the last run of these styles. I’ve priced the tees at a rock-bottom $15.00 each, so that the people who wanted them could get them.

These are the last of the first edition. Go to the new storefront and grab ’em.

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Creative Works Memphis – My Take. Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:01:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The heavy pistons that were pounding in my soul have subsided to a gentle hum. The chaos that has been hindering every thought is now still.


My chin comes back up, and I can finally see the path in front of me. That season, whatever it was, is over.

This past weekend, a humble design conference in Memphis was the first time I found myself truly experiencing Church. While there was no mention of a defined higher power, the conference represented and shed light on every aspect of what we truly believe, and what truly fills our souls.

Creative Works Memphis was founded and executed by my friend, Josh Horton. His love for Memphis was quite evident, and filled an intimate room full of 200 creatives. Artists eager for inspiration and insight into their diverse creative careers, sat upright in their chairs, extracting every ounce of hope, encouragement, and inspiration from each unique story.


Visible Music College. Memphis.

There are conferences that people arrive ready to impress and network. Unlike those events, Creative Works was full of artists open to vulnerability. It was a room full of talent, all doing big things, and we just wanted to…


Miraculous things happen when artists open up and tell their story. These seemingly well-adjusted and established creatives open their souls wide enough to let the listeners right in. These esteemed professionals let their guard down, and assure their congregation that they have the same pain, the same doubt, and the same insecurities as them.

Events like this stretch a safety net right under the tightropes that we all walk on a daily basis. We suddenly allow ourselves freedom to take a new path, to push harder, to pull back, to change perspective, and to make leaps without the fear that we once had. Creative Works Memphis made us realize that someone is cheering us along, but also there to catch us if we fall.

Work in the creative field long enough, and you’ll soon realize how important it is to connect with a creative community. Work in the field even longer, and you may muster up the courage to foster that community. Josh, with his heart, coupled with his tenacity and attention to detail, managed to wrap his arms around the attendees and speakers of a sold-out event. His undying conviction and love for his city made a mark large enough for the rest of the creative world to take notice.

Creative Works is one big group hug that the whole creative world needs to get in on.

For me, it was a time to tell my own story, and to bear my own soul. I arrived broken, jaded, and exhausted in my own day to day operation. Speaking for thirty minutes was only a to-do item on an event that I attended in hopes of having a good conversation or two.

I got so much more than what I came for. I was lucky enough to see every speaker, and hear every story. I couldn’t help but to think of all of the ways that I could change and improve upon the approach that I take to my work. With every speaker was a new way that I envisioned stretching my business.

But then there were the conversations. There’s something that happens when the people who inspire us tell us how inspirational we are to them. Our whole perception of life flips around, and we suddenly allow ourselves to see something new in the mirror. We see someone who is inspirational, capable, and more powerful than we ever realized. Not only did I get pulled up off the ground this past weekend, but this community also dusted me off, straightened my collar, and hoisted me up upon their shoulders.

Thank you, Josh. Thank you, Yellow Shirts. Thank you, Memphis. Thank you, Creative Works. I am fully restored.


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New Work Added Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:39:32 +0000 Continue reading ]]> If I could update my site on a weekly basis, I would.

But, for whatever reason – I can’t. However,  I can give you a huge update once in a blue moon, and that’s what I managed to do this morning.

Just added a ton of new work to the portfolio. To be exact, 129 new pieces spread across 9 new pages. Check it out.

The new updates include work for Twenty One Pilots, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Nine Inch Nails, Gary Clark Jr, Fall Out Boy, Christina Perri, Pharrell Williams, Paramore, Panic! At The Disco, Rage Against The Machine, Paul McCartney, Neon Trees, Iggy Azalea, Ed Sheeran, Britney Spears, Pearl Jam, Blink-182, Alice In Chains, The Fray, One Republic, Billy Joel, Korn, KISS, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble, and Deftones, and a few others. Whew.


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Radio Silence Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:28:46 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Photo by David Sherry

Photo by David Sherry

I tend to disappear for extended periods of time. At first, it was a trait that wasn’t as glaringly obvious as it has become today, but slowly my friends and colleagues began to recognize that I tend to fall off the face of the earth quite frequently.

Obviously, I still feel fully present in my own day-to-day, but the idea of “keeping my head down” and grinding through my work feels quite literal. The ability to isolate and churn out unbelievable amounts of work has been the very attribute that has led to my success in my niche of the design world. While I can recognize and sympathize with the benefits of a more extroverted lifestyle, the nature of my work has forced me into an intensely introverted state. People who know me well would never characterize me as an introvert, and it feels like a blatant lie when I describe myself as such. But, the reality of my current operation shows all of the tell-tale signs of a chronic shut-in.

In the past few days, I’ve found myself emerging from my cave for an uncharacteristic amount of sit-down conversations with friends and fellow creatives. I’ve learned that after I panic through initial dreaded small-talk, I quite comfortably nestle into deep conversation. There’s a part of me that’s so deprived of quality conversation, that I’ll quickly cut the crap, and get straight to the good stuff; The “How are you really doing?” type of questions.

For the past couple years, my regret in these types of conversations is that I feel like I’m in no condition to have those feel-good dialogues that many expect. When I used to answer “How’s it going?” with a quick but honest “Fantastic!” I have found myself with only the ability to muster up a “Eh, I’m alright, I guess..”

Part of the reason that I stay isolated is because I don’t want to have to be the Eeyore of a conversation. But, I also don’t want to lie to anyone. So, if I commit to getting coffee, but also want to stay honest, I may not be able to muster up the “Fantastic!” response that I once could.

The good news is that none of this is permanent. While my work setup breeds isolation, my current life transition is a black cloud that doesn’t look like it will pass in the immediate future, but definitely is not terminal. Not to bore you with details, but my current state is a mix of blessings and inconveniences – some of the most annoying first-world problems that can be thrown at you.

Basically, we sold our house which we loved, to build a house on a dream property that we love even more. The in-between involves ripping us from our old house and shoving us into an apartment (which we hate) while we wait out the construction process. My life is only about saving up money, and little else. The more I isolate, the more work I get done, the more I can save, and the sooner construction gets underway. That’s life for this 2-year process that I’m currently smack-dab in the middle of.

I am not here to complain about any of that. Ultimately it is an enormous blessing after a decade of tireless hard work. I’m immensely thankful and grateful.

My frustration is the areas of my life, work, and personality that I’ve had to sit on the back burner: Inviting friends over for dinner or games, thinking up new business ideas and doing them, starting something new, sitting on a back porch without staring neighbors in the face. I’ve realized that so much of my happiness was attributed to having an environment that was conducive to creativity and new possibility. My big ideas don’t fit so well into this cave.

So, more than anyone else, I can’t wait for my radio silence to be over. I can’t wait to have the mental clarity and optimism that I once had. I can’t wait to have an environment that will allow me to carry out these ideas that have been bouncing around my head like lottery balls. I can’t wait to come to back life.


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Miller High Life x Harley – Artist Series Mon, 05 May 2014 17:33:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Every now and then, crazy awesome projects come along. Very happy to have been able to be a part of Miller High Life x Harley Davidson Artist Series limited edition cans. Here’s the can that I designed – in stores now.

Honored to be in such good company, alongside Derrick Castle, Jon Contino, Hydro74 and Roland Sands.

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Good Reviews Fri, 28 Mar 2014 13:57:07 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The first week of my online class on Lettering has been great. Lots of students submitting great work, and giving great feedback. If you haven’t checked it out, take a look at Lettering Made Simple: Efficient Methods for Custom Type.

My main goal in the class is to help designers to not be intimidated by lettering projects. There is a vast world of lettering styles, and you can use simple methods to help you find your unique aesthetic.

Here is some of the feedback of from the course:

“This class is great for anyone who wants to learn more about type and manipulating an existing font. It is also perfect for beginners and professionals. I know personally from working in the field of merch design that Brandon Rike is in a class of his own amongst designers, and this class helps prove that. I believe you can always learn something new and after taking this class I can honestly say that I learned several new things. I look forward to learning much more from Brandon Rike in his future classes if he chooses to do more!
Corey Thomas

Very well done, easy to follow and informative. Good teacher!
Autumn Smith

This class is packed with great and helpful tips to really streamline ones workflow! Highly recommend watching as it’s a quick and informative resource for designers who work in illustrator. Thanks Brandon for keeping it simple and not getting to technical!
-Nadine Picone

I really can’t say enough about this class. It teaches you exactly what it promises in a clear and simple way. It’s very practical, and Brandon goes through his design process step by step. He also gives a lot of insight into what it takes to be a design professional. I was inspired.
Seth Duckens

This class is for a very specific type of custom type. San-serif fonts, adding lines to preexisting forms, modifying those forms for character and applying effects for detail and further character. It has a clear focus which was helpful but also goes into detail on many tricks Brandon uses to stay efficient. Though it’s a short class I ended up learning one main technique I can see myself utilizing regularly (extending letters) and a number of little tips I can’t wait to use on future projects.
-Nick Terry

A very nice class from a talented designer. I would have liked the initial concepting/sketch phase to have had more time dedicated to it by exploring a few different shape and lock-up ideas before jumping into the technical execution. Some ideas for approaching the initial exploration would be helpful considering that it is arguably the most important aspect of the entire process. I did appreciate the different way of cleaning up lines and shapes and the final psd organic edge trick. Very inspiring overall.
Scott Howard

Let me start off by saying, everyone can learn something new. Whether you’re a pro at Illustrator or not, I’d recommend this class just for the fact of watching another designers workflow. That being said he’s clear with his steps and explains where needed. What did I learn from this class? How to have fun with type and try new things, explore options and if they don’t fit, toss’em! I guarantee you’ll learn something in this course. Thanks Brandon (our name rules) for showing us a peek into how you work.
Brandon E.

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Opinions on a Career In Graphic Design Fri, 21 Mar 2014 21:58:46 +0000 Continue reading ]]> A few months ago, a high school senior, Samantha Cleveland, sent me a list of interview questions. Samantha is interested in a career in graphic design, and I answered as honestly as I could. I wrote quite a bit, so I figured that I would share. Enjoy.

Why did you decide on a career in graphic design?

I can’t recall any moment when I made a “decision” to have a career in graphic design. My parents recognized that I was artistic as soon as I was old enough to color and draw. Art was just always “my thing,” and it was only natural for me to assume that I would be an artist for the rest of my life. I think we often get side-tracked into thinking that we need to pursue the occupation that makes us the most money. I got good grades in school, and I knew there was an option to pursue a career in something like medicine, or law, or those other seemingly high-paying careers. But those options were never really options for me. I viewed them as boring, and I viewed art as fun. So I naturally kept art as my main priority, and always have. I think part of our purpose is to spend our time doing what we are best at. I was lucky that I found a way to make a living at doing art projects all day.

What tools and knowledge are most helpful in pursuing a career in graphic design?

I’ve found that having a responsible, task-oriented approach to a seemingly free-sprited field is extremely important. The biggest problem that I see in most artists and designers is that they are so self-absorbed and proud of how artistic they are, that they tend to be very irresponsible, unreliable, and slow. They prioritize self-expression over work completion. My biggest asset is the speed at which I do projects, the timeliness at which I deliver my work, and the organized workflow that I maintain. This has helped me to maintain good rapport with my clients, which has cultivated many relationships, and steady work that has lasted over a decade now.

What are some aspects of a great portfolio?

I’ve always been more impressed with a proficiency in a wide range of styles than expertise in one single aesthetic. The reality is that most jobs will require you to create work one day that may look completely different than the work you did yesterday. It’s the ability to bounce between these styles that will make you a valuable asset to your employer. However, if it’s strictly illustration jobs that you seek – then you will eventually benefit from defining your own style, and perfecting it. A career in Illustration has many different principles than a career in Graphic Design.

How did you start your career as a graphic designer (internships, job applications/interviews, etc.)?

I had an odd path to my current career in graphic design. Like I mentioned, I had always been artistic, and spent most of my time drawing. My friends and I started a band when we were thirteen years old, and I naturally created the logo and tape jackets for our band. As our band grew, so did the nature of the projects that I created for the band. I would find myself designing fliers, cd covers, t-shirt graphics based upon our need at the time. At age 18, my band signed to a record label and we started touring nationally. Most of the bands that we toured with liked the merch that I designed, and asked me to design merch for them as well. This snowballed into consistent paying work for me that I did from my Powerbook in the van and in hotels. Around age 22, there became an odd overlap between my income from design, and the income from the band, in which I was making more money designing t-shirts for bands, than I was performing in my mine. The decision soon came to take my design operation full-time. I’ve been completely freelance and full-time since 2005. I’ve never worked any design job other than my own freelance projects, which is quite rare. I’d like to think it came from an unwavering persistence to my work, but the truth is that I’ve been very very lucky.

What are the major differences between working free-lance and working for one company?

Since I’ve never worked solely for a company, I can only speak from the freelance perspective. The main difference, for me, is freedom. This isn’t the freedom of skipping around all day, and living a life-long vacation, but the fact that I have a freedom to do projects that I enjoy, and to do projects because I want to, and not because I have to.

However, I wouldn’t wish this level of stress upon my worst enemy. While most people can walk away at 5pm everyday, my job never stops. Working on several time zones, and crazy deadlines mean that you can find me tackling a mountain of work at any time of day or night. There is no one to delegate work to, only my own shoulders on which I carry this whole operation. From client interaction, scheduling, taxes, invoices, the work itself, revisions, etc – I do every single bit of it.

The biggest problem with freelance is that making a good living at it is extremely difficult, and in order to pull it off, you must exhaust yourself. I find myself both constantly exhausted, and constantly proud of the fact that I’ve been able to do this on my own, and make a great living at it. At this point, there is no way I would ever work for a company. Freelance is all that I know, and I plan on sticking with it for many more decades to come.

What were/are your career goals as graphic designer?

My biggest career goal is to make cool stuff. Plain and simple. There were never any income figures, or huge accounts that I wanted to obtain – just the ability to make the type of stuff that excited me as a kid, when I would get lost looking at all of the graphics in old skateboard catalogs. I get to do this stuff, all day, every day, and I know that the 12 year old version of me would be so excited to know what he’ll get to do for a living someday. My goal was, and continues to be, to maintain that youthful excitement for creating art. I’ve had it my whole life, this passion for making stuff, and I’ll do whatever it takes to maintain it for the rest of my life.

What do you do in your typical working day?

Ideally, I wake up early. Like, really early. Like 4:30am early. I make a protein shake for breakfast, I shower, get dressed, put on my shoes, make coffee, walk my 15-20 feet commute to my home office, and get to work.

For me, the real work happens when I can fully immerse myself in the project, without any distractions. This is that “in the zone” feeling that happens when you get lost in your art. I do whatever I can to get there. My usual methods include working when no one else in the country is awake, ( hence the 4:30 wake-up ) listening to podcasts or ambient music, running a fan or air purifier for white noise, and turning off all phone, email and social media distractions. Once you pinpoint the distractors in your work day, it becomes easier to avoid them, and only focus on work.

I will break when I finish a project, or reach a stopping point. I usually spend that time getting lunch, talking to my wife, running errands, etc. I get back to work until I feel okay about stopping. This is usually 4-6:00 pm. I can feel confident that I put in a good day’s work, and met all of my deadlines – and won’t feel guilty about watching TV. It’s not uncommon for a last minute request to come in during the evenings, and I do my best to oblige. Setting boundaries with loyal clients is overrated. If someone needs something, and you can do it, do it. I try to prioritize being good to people, not letting them know how busy I am.

I try to get to bed before 11:00 pm. I look over the next day’s projects, and try to fall asleep thinking about them.

What are the working conditions like (stress, pace, travel, environment, hours, etc.)?

There are days where I put in 13-14 hours of work, but some days that I put in 3. The workload is insanely busy some days, but then there are days where I can take my wife to lunch at 1:00, and not have to rush back. There are enough of those easy days to make up for the majority of high-stress days.

I’m freelance, and work from home, so there is no commute. But, that also means there are no co-workers and I have no one to bounce ideas off of. While I would consider myself an extrovert, I’m most efficient and productive in an introverted state. I’m sure being around co-workers would get under my skin pretty quickly, so I’ll stay solo.

What are some of the designs you have created and their successes?

I’ve designed thousands of pieces, for hundred of bands. It’s not uncommon for me to look back on my work, and not remember creating a piece. But I’m always excited to see some of the work that I’ve done for Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Blink-182 and Mumford & Sons. I’ve been able to walk into Target, Wal-Mart, Hot Topic, Delias, Spencers, and several concerts, and see my work. I never get used to seeing work that I’ve created get sold globally. I’ve been able to have a tiny piece in shaping the visual culture of our time, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities.

What is your greatest accomplishment in your opinion?

My greatest accomplishment is making a job out of doing what I’m best at, making a good living at it, and doing it all on my own. I set out to prove a lot of things to myself, and to never stop trying to go beyond what I thought I was capable of. I’ve achieved all of that, and can honestly say that I’m proud of myself. I’m actually being what I wanted to be when I grew up.

In your opinion, what characterizes a good designer?

A designer is essentially a decision-maker. We’re often making decisions about elements and how they interact with each other, and with the viewer. A good designer is one that has tremendous artistic skill, but also the knowledge to know how to use it effectively. Being a good designer is very different than just being a good artist in general. A good designer must care about how someone will react to and digest a piece – so they must care more about that audience than they do about their own agenda. There is a selflessness needed to be a good designer – knowing that you’ll do whatever is necessary to get the message across, no matter how much or how little work that may take.

Would you choose this career if you could make the decision again?

Definitely. I would choose to do the exact same thing that I’m doing now. No question.

What (if anything) would you do differently?

I would figure out a way to involve other people in my life more. My work benefits from my isolation, but my mind and overall well-being benefit from community – which, unfortunately, I haven’t prioritized.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Any moment that I can look at something that I created, and be genuinely impressed by it. Also, any time I can see a client’s excitement for what I came up with.

What are the least rewarding aspects of your job?

Those times when I exhaust myself on a project, send it in, and the client is too caught up in the machine to reply with a “Thank you.” We are all cogs in a bigger machine, but it’s nice to work with personable clients, even if your only interaction is email.

How you respond to the notion that art is not generally considered a viable career option?

I would agree. It’s not. There is often some odd, winding path that successful artists went down to get them to the career they have. This path is so random, that there is no way to provide a student with steps or a guideline on how to get there. The majority of ready-made design jobs that most students get placed in provide little to no reward, making these artistic people hate design altogether.

The truth is that most people hate their jobs because they’ve never had the courage to break away from convention. The only thing the convention, or the suggested path tells you is how to achieve a mediocre, lower-middle class lifestyle. If the majority of America is unhappy, and hate their jobs, you can only assume that this suggested path laid before you will only lead you to that same unhappy life.

True happiness comes from finding your own path, and breaking away from the herd. You have to know that the herd is unhappy, and there is no logical reason to stick with them. It’s your youthful curiosity and tenacity that will eventually get you to a life that you can be proud of. You will never find true happiness in simply being somewhere in the herd.

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My Skillshare Lettering Class Thu, 20 Mar 2014 14:30:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I had a blast on my first Skillshare class, and I was happy to put together a new one. Today I’m launching a new class entitled “Lettering Made Simple: Efficient Methods for Custom Type”


My class will roll out with the new Skillshare Subscription Model. This means that you can now purchase a subscription to Skillshare for $10/month, and gain access to their entire library of 150+ classes.

So you have the option to buy the class a la carte for $19, or get a membership for $10/month.

My class teaches you efficient methods to create beautiful lettering pieces. The reality of a the fast-paced design world of insane deadlines is that we need to make good work, and good work quickly. I take use of the resources available, including Lost Type Co-Op, and show you the steps to creating great work.

So, please do me the huge favor of enrolling in my class, and starting your Skillshare subscription today! Go check it out!

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