Meet Aaron Irizarry

Aaron Irizarry Interview I first stumbled upon, no pun intended, Aaron Irizarry a few months ago when I read his article "Blessed are the flexible". As I continued to read his blog I found myself thinking his words where exactly what I had been thinking. Aaron has a very genuine writing style that is easy to read and full of personal experience and compassion. Getting to know and talk with Aaron over these past couple of months have been great. He was even featured in my "Branded Designers" post. We both seem to share a common desire in that we both love design but we want to do more than just use our talents for our own personal gain.

So when I started talking with Chuck Westbrook a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he was also talking with Aaron, and thought it would be a good idea for us, Aaron and I, to do some collaborative work. Well you can look forward to that in the near future, but until then I wanted to do a personal interview with Aaron so you too could get to know him. I have divided the interview into three topic; Life, Design and Faith. I chose to go this route because I wanted to do this interview in a unique way that also tied in to what my site is all about.


1. To start things off, tell us a bit about yourself. Anything at all.

I am a simple man trying to make my way in the universe (quote from Jango Fett in Star Wars - Attack of the clones)

2. Where do you see yourself in the next 5, 10, 15 years?

With grey hair ( I have two daughters)...

Really though I hope to still be an active part of the design community, more on my terms... I have a personal goal to teach or speak at conferences or something along those lines eventually. I really admire Jeffery Zeldman and others who have a wealth of knowledge and experience and gives back to the design community through speaking. Or just running a design firm or art gallery somewhere along the coast, or back east( New England area).

You never know though... it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

3. At the end of your life what do you hope to be remembered for?

Someone who was passionate about what he believed in, and what he loved. Someone who invested in those around him and left things better than he found them.


1. When did you first become cognizant of the fact that design is something you wanted to pursue as a career?

Well I always loved being creative... and it took on different forms of expression. While I was in a band (Point of Recognition) I started trying to make shirts and stickers, and the next thing you know I was hooked and i guess the rest is history.

2. In your own words what would you say are the fundamental elements of design and how do you apply them to your own work?

Not really sure... I know there are answers in a book somewhere, or that you learn in a classroom. I would say that for me personally the most fundamental element of design or creativity is vision. The ability to look at something or hear about it and envision in in a creative form. To hear someone's vision for a product, or something they are passionate about and see the creative expression... to conceptualize it and help them achieve it.

Be flexible, think openly, take risks, and be open to criticism (constructive or otherwise).

I totally just rambled on... but keeping those concepts in mind when designing for work, or just because i have an idea, serve as a good foundation for design, and then add technique, skill, and the desire to make cool stuff, and i am usually heading in the right direction.

wow hope that answers the question... i really rambled there for a minute.... I guess that is the whole reaching my mid 30's thing.

3. Paper or digital? In your opinion which will outlast the other?

Digital will continue to become more practical, and efficient as technology advances, and paper will become a novelty / collectors item. With that said paper doesn't need to be charged, and can't crash or have compatibility issues.

And even though i am not very good at drawing there is a lot to be said for unplugging, sitting down with a pad of paper and either writing out your thoughts or sketching a creative vision. It can be refreshing and i definitely recommend it.


1. Did you grow up in a church?

Yup and hated it. I got to see all the behind the scenes stuff that made me want nothing to do with God or the people who followed him. I was to young to realize that is usually what happens when people lose focus of what a relationship with God was really supposed to be, if you read the bible so much of who Jesus is described as is pretty opposite of what the church is doing today.

I am not the poster boy for modern "Right Wing Christian Fundamentalists" I am not a republican ( I don't think Jesus was either), i dont pretend to be something I am not, I am not perfect, I listen to good music, and I don't judge people, I do have firm beliefs... but it is not my job to change people... that is what God does, but it is my job to represent God, and His love for others by how I live (not just what i say) and interact with others. I believe that Mark Driscol said it best when he said to "Contest and Contextualize" Which means I contest for my beliefs, and don't compromise them, but i do contextualize them and make them real and relevant to others, not by pounding them with rules and a fake do gooder attitudes, but by being an open and honest person and hopefully dispeling the lame stereotypes that we have earned for ourselves as "christians" that often get in the way of people truly experiencing who God is.

I know this... I believe in God, and do my best to live for him openly and honestly, but definitely not perfectly, and hopefully I can contribute something positive to others. Wether they share my beliefs or not. It is the whole "Loving people without an agenda" concept where I have love and respect for all people because they are worth it, not just to get them to believe what I do.

2. When did you realize a relationship with Jesus was more important than any religion?

When I had tried everything on my own ( a whole separate story on it's own), and was still empty inside I knew there was something more... I knew God was real.... but i had so many questions that weren't answered. So i started search for the answers, and the more i tried to disprove, the more it became real to me.

3. As a family man, how would you describe the difference between your relationship with God now as opposed to when you were single?

I have been married for 12 years. It has not always been easy but it has really taught me about living selflessly, and putting other people before me. I have two daughters and an amazing wife who definitely keep me in line ( I really need it sometimes). I consider myself blessed. Other than that i was only a Christian for about a year or two before i got married so i cat compare to much.

Thanks again Aaron for taking the time to share with me and all my readers. And if you would like more info on Aarron, here are some links:

Website - This Is Aaron's Life Portfolio - Aaron's Portfolio Twitter - @aaroni268 Linked in - Aaron Irizarry

interview: andrio abero at 33rpm

Andrio Abero at 33rpm designs When it comes to finding gig posters there is definitely no shortage. But it seems the good ones, I mean the really good ones, come few and far between. And that's why I was ecstatic when Andrio Abero, over at 33rpm, said he wouldn't mind doing an interview for me. I have followed Andrio's work now for the past three years, and his progression has been wonderful to watch. His work has been featured in numerous magazines including Print Magazines Regional Design Annual, not once but twice. Andrio has also been involved in over 40 exhibitions for his work and received more honors than you can count on your fingers. But if you think Andrio is only good for a print design, then you would be mistaken, his web portfolio is just as impressive.

So sit back, relax and enjoy all that is 33rpm.

1. Andrio, I have been a huge fan for the last 3 years now. At what point in your life did you first become interested in design/illustration/poster making?

I grew up near the Portland music scene, where I saw fantastic poster design. It was my senior year in high school in Vancouver, WA, and a recruiter from the Art Institute of Seattle visited my art class. I've been artistic since I was five years old, but never thought of making art as a career, just a hobby. I excelled in math and science and had thoughts of becoming a biologist but that didn't really make sense to me. That fall I moved up to Seattle and started classes at AIS. I wanted to focus in illustration, but gradually drifted towards design.

My Morning Jacket

Thievery Corporation

2. Who or what would you say has the biggest influence on the work you're doing?

Music has been a driving force for my every day inspiration. I like everything from indie rock to electronic music, dance music, hip-hop and old breaks, funk & soul, classic R&B and pop. I like meeting musicians and people working positively in a scene and not scenesters.

3. What do you find helps when you run out of creative ideas?

Go out and do something completely different. Take a break and you'll know when you're ready to be creative again. Maybe try working in a different medium or go about a design in a different way.

4. What has been your favorite project you've worked on, and what has been the hardest?

Bumbershoot was really fun because I got to see my work everywhere in Seattle. It was also a nostalgic event to work on because I had attended the festival every year for the past ten years. Thankfully there hasn't been a project that sticks out in my mind as being really hard.

33rpm businessweek illustration

33rpm seattle weekly bumbershoot poster

5. How would you say being a designer influence your life? Do you feel you have a different perspective on things around you?

It's not so much being a designer, but choosing a profession that allows me to be creative while making a decent living. I've met a lot of talented people, from other designers, artists, musicians, dancers, thinkers and all around creative people. Being able to relate to someone on a creative level is great to experience.

6. How do you spend your spare time?

DJ'ing, music production, learning to be a better cook, bike riding, going out…

Death Cab for Cutie

Rufus Wainwright

7. What are your five favorite sites you visit?

The New York Times QBN Resident Advisor Cool Hunting Gigposters

8. The number 33 has a very powerful meaning to me. What does 33 mean for you?

33rpm was founded by a good friend of mine, Jen Wood and I right before we graduated from design school. It was actually her idea to call it 33rpm. We both love music and we wanted to do exclusively music graphics. 33rpm is the speed which records play at. We thought it was fitting considering our analog aesthetic.

9. Thanks for taking the time to participate. Do you have any last words of inspiration or a favorite quote?

Always do what you love, and success will follow.


KEXP's John in the Morning at Night benefit

To learn more about Andrio Abero:

Print and Illustrations Web and Interactive Exhibitions and Publications About and Contact

interview: nectar

Nectar: A fresh look at you interview If you were to look up Nectar in the dictionary you'd find a picture of the six sexiest guys you've ever seen, along with the definition: "A company built upon strong relationships with an even stronger commitment to serving up the best in personal branding on the web."

I first met the men of Nectar back in August, well one-half of them anyways. Josiah, Caleb, Aaron and myself got to know each other at the Dallas Museum of Art. Then I met Dave for lunch the following week and that just seemed to really open the door to working with these guys. But it wasn't until Nectar Hackathon 2.0 that I got to meet the rest of the team, Brett and Charles, and work right along side of them. These guys are the real deal with a lot of heart and a lot of passion for what they do. So without further ado, it's my pleasure to present you with an in depth look at the minds behind Nectar.

To make things more accessible, I've added links to each Nectar team member's response.

Aaron Harp

1. What is your current role at Nectar and how did you first get involved in that field?

I'm lead (only) PHP developer of Nectar.  I also handle most of the frontend JavaScript goodness.  Actually, when I first met Josiah years and years ago he encouraged me to learn PHP and that's what I did.  I have done freelance development since then and I'm happy to be settling into Nectar.

2. Since you all are a team working together, please describe your view on the importance of team-work.

This is the first project I've worked on that has been a true team scenario.  Working with guys that you love hanging out with really makes staring at a computer all day (or through the night before a launch) much more enjoyable.  We've crammed a lot of work into the last couple of months and everyone has been vital in making this thing happen.  I'd say the best part of teamwork is that if there's something you don't wanna do, there's likely someone to pass it off to.

3. If you could be anything else in the world what would it be and why?

Though I enjoy web development, my passion is in music.  It's my goal to make a career of performing and eventually settle into a job conducting choirs at a liberal arts university.


Brett Tilford

1. What is your current role at Nectar and how did you first get involved in that field?

I'm currently focused on the sales and marketing aspect of Nectar. We love the new social media technologies and the opportunities they bring to create conversations and meaningful relationships with people. With this in mind I've really thrown myself into the world of blogging and micro blogging. It's really been such a cool journey to begin building the Nectar community from the ground up and I'm really excited to see the conversation expand in the weeks and months following our launch.

My first experience in utilizing these tools was as a youth pastor at New Hope. I was trying to email all my student leaders information and they weren't responding. I tried calling them... that didn't work either. I was baffled. How on earth do I communicate with these kids? That's when I figured out Myspace and Text Messaging. After that I had no problem at all. It was then that I realized that our world was changing in drastic ways. I call a kid and get his voicemail. I text that same kid and I get a response within seconds. I think this has huge implications for how businesses connect and communicate with customers.

2. Since you all are a team working together, please describe your view on the importance of team-work.

The importance of team work can't be overestimated. I think this is one of the reasons woman make such amazing leaders, they are so relational and skilled at building consensus that they just make great team leaders. As a company of all males we really have to work hard at building relationships with each other that foster trust, encouragement, and accountability. Another beautiful thing about teams is the way it allows you to play to your strengths and leave your weak areas to someone else. For example, at Nectar you don't want me designing or coding out your website but lucky for you, I don't have to! We'll leave that to the Josiah, Caleb, Charles, Aaron, and Dave who are experts at that stuff.

3. If you could be anything else in the world what would it be and why?

Definitely a professional surfer. Just chilling at the beach all day. Are you kidding me?!


Caleb White

1. What is your current role at Nectar and how did you first get involved in that field?

I'm primarily focused on front-end web development (XHMTL / CSS / Javascript) for the Nectar page as well as the various tastes. I've been doing web development since I learned it in middle school back in 1996, and I absolutely love it. I'm also very involved in writing a lot of the copy for the site, which I love equally as much.

2. Since you all are a team working together, please describe your view on the importance of team-work.

Team-work has been absolutely vital for this project. All six of us have very different strengths and skill sets, and I firmly believe that Nectar would not be a reality if any one of the other members of the team wasn't involved. Feeding off of the other guys' energy, passion, and humor has been a complete blast and made this truly the best project I've ever been a part of.

3. If you could be anything else in the world what would it be and why?

Professionally speaking, this is it. I love the web, I love people, and I love running a business. Nectar is absolutely perfect. I also love studying and performing music, but I think it would lose a lot of it's allure to me if I was ever doing it professionally. Maybe I'll define a new professional field; something like "Semi-professional musical web-development hobbiest" And maybe drop "lumberjack" in there just for fun.


Charles Williams

1. What is your current role at Nectar and how did you first get involved in that field?

Right now I head up everything on the Nectar design frontier. A good 90% of my work day is spent hacking away in Photoshop. The last few months at Nectar has been a blast and I'm really excited to see how people take to the look and feel of everything.

For as long as I can remember I've had an unexplainable passion for design. Not particularly web design, but just design in general. I found myself spending tons of time cruising around the web admiring the work of other designers and wanted to give it a shot myself. I love it.

2. Since you all are a team working together, please describe your view on the importance of team-work.

Solid teamwork is absolutely paramount for the success of any team. The passion and energy that each of us bring keeps us going strong day-to-day (well, that and lots of coffee :D). I've been friends with most of the guys for years, so we work pretty cohesively together. We may be talented people individually, but without the backbone of clear communication we'd be lost.

3. If you could be anything else in the world what would it be and why?

I'm gonna go with photographer on this one. Traveling the world with a camera at my side has always been something I've dreamt of doing. Maybe someday.


Dave Onkels

1. What is your current role at Nectar and how did you first get involved in that field?

I'm a bit of a jack of all trades. My background is in business, design, and technology so I weigh in on the strategic aspects of our marketing and business plans, dabble in design, and look for holes in our user interface/customer experience.

I had been fleshing out the business plan for a personal branding service that leverages best-practices employed by the top web design experts. I met Josiah through a chance encounter for a separate business opportunity which ultimately turned into a partnership with six specularly-talented guys from the Dallas area.

2. Since you all are a team working together, please describe your view on the importance of team-work.

Teamwork in any organization is critical but it's vitally important in a small company such as ours. Our creativity and business ingenuity relies heavily on our ability to feed off each other and leverage the team's strengths. The beautiful thing about Nectar is we operate more as a family than just business partners. This isn't to say we don't have conflicts but when we do we work through them without malice or resentment. I guess it ultimately boils down to trust.

3. If you could be anything else in the world what would it be and why?

Honestly, I'm living a dream right now. After extensive self-exploration I've recognized that I'm hard-wired to be an entrepreneur. My passion lies in emerging web technology and progressive design so Nectar truly represents the type of convergence I want within my professional life. Now that being said, if we're talking about anything in the world...being a test pilot for very light jets would be a close second, assuming my wife weren't to object. (Dave is private pilot in his rarely found free time.)


Josiah Platt

1. What is your current role at Nectar and how did you first get involved in that field?

I'm a front-end developing, jQuery learning, standards-nut, CSS junkie. I've been involved in web design and development since I was 13 (12 years ago - sheesh), when my partner-in-crime Caleb came over to my house and taught me HTML. Since then I've been fascinated with and involved in a little bit of almost every area of the web, and specifically in love with CSS and standards-compliant markup.

I credit the majority of my growth to the incredibly inspiring community in and around this wide world we call the web. I stumbled across one Daniel Mall back in the day on Shaun Inman's Designologue, and he has since been a gracious tutor in all things CSS / markup. I want to be him when I grow up. He's also why I'm 2 degrees from Jeffrey Zeldman, Jason Santa Maria and Happy Cog, and while they don't know me from a hole in the ground, this is both bragable and awesome.

Well beyond markup and development, my true passion lies in relationships and marketing. If you see me in a room full of people and I'm not meeting those that I don't know, chances are my legs have been recently fractured.

That's the short story.

2. Since you all are a team working together, please describe your view on the importance of team-work.

As far as teams go, I'm blessed to work with people that I not only respect, but completely love and would die for in an instant. I would do anything for these guys, and I'm confident that the feeling is mutual.

I've heard horror stories about being "friends first" in a business relationship, but I generally respond with a question about the depth of the "friendship" these horror stories speak of. I work with men as close to me as my real brothers, and while we've been at our throats more times than I can remember, we always seem to come through our differences stronger than before.

We're a tightly-knit group, and I think we're stronger for it. Where one of us is weak, another is strong. I love that I can genuinely say that we have a firm foundation of love and respect beneath us. Nothing gives me more confidence as we move forward than knowing my bro's have my back.

3. If you could be anything else in the world what would it be and why?

I like to imagine a life of boundless opportunity, and while that sounds like a bottled cliche, I really do tend to look into the future with more wonder than concrete planning. I suppose if I have to give an answer, I'd be a panther. Like a panther with wings. And like a built in coffee maker for a leg. That'd be awesome.


To learn how you can get your own sweet setup head over to and see the beauty for yourself.

A special thanks to Shelby Cook for the amazing photographs.

interview: Shannon Rankin

Shannon Rankin is an artist based out of Rangeley, Maine. Her work is composed of collages, drawings, paintings, installations, and even a few experimental videos. I first came across the work of Shannon back in May of this year. Her pieces with vintage maps and anatomical silhouette's all being connected with thread really appealed to me. The simple manner in which she constructs her work is what sets her apart from so many other artist. I am really excited to be able to bring the work of Shannon Rankin to your attention and I hope you all enjoy.

1. First off, I love the simplicity of your work. Can you tell me how you first become interested in art?

Thanks Kyle. I was a creative kid growing up with an artistic mother who always encouraged the creativity in me, but it never really occurred to me that I could be an artist until much later in life. In High School, I took one art class that lasted for a quarter of a semester, which was a lot of fun, but not at all serious. Once I got out into the “real” world, I would repeatedly meet artists and designers who became my friends and would inspire and encourage me. One day, it suddenly dawned on me that I could also do this, be this! So, I’ve had a lot of catching up to do…

I went to art school, and it was an amazing experience for me. Everything seemed to really make sense for me there, and I suddenly realized I was in the right place, at the right time.

2. What is your background in art and design, professional or non-professional, and what made you become an artist/designer?

I attended the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. I received my bachelor of fine arts there, but my main focus for my final two years was in graphic design, and new media. After graduating, I spent some time creating interactive art, but that didn’t always pay the bills, so I attempted a life as a graphic designer, I moved out west, and began working for clients, etc. I was okay at it, but it didn’t fulfill me at all, and I felt limited being a graphic designer. So one day, I made the decision to dive wholeheartedly into being an artist.

3. Who or what would you say has the biggest influence on the work you're doing?

I would say probably the two greatest influences on my work are nature, and the books I’ve been reading on and off over the past 10 years, books by Alan Watts, Carl Jung, Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, Carl Sagan, and now Eckhart Tolle.

4. What tools do you normally use for a project from start to finish?

Well, of course that depends on what I am working on at the time. However, it often begins with a mechanical pencil, vellum, paper, maps, an X-acto knife, a lot of blades, a needle, thread, scissors, an awl, a bone folder, gouache, paintbrushes, and sometimes ends with archival glue.

5. What has been your favorite project you've worked on, and what has been the hardest?

It doesn’t tend to happen too often, but if I am working on a series where I feel that someone may have an expectation of me, or the work, I tend to freeze up a bit. So that can be difficult.

However, when I feel that I have complete freedom and the work surprises me, those are the best times, and my favorite projects to work on!

6. How would you say being an artist influences your life? Do you feel you have a different perspective on things around you?

For me, being an artist is a lifelong commitment. It’s a commitment to what I believe is my purpose in life. It isn’t always easy because there are times when it is a struggle to believe, and trust in yourself and the work. That’s when I just have to keep plugging along. I believe part of the struggle is part of the process, and you just have to move through whatever it is that might block you, or allow yourself time to rest. My grandmother always said, “This too shall pass”.

Art making is a meditative process for me. While I am creating, I allow myself to be totally present in the work. It’s that “white moment” that allows me to feel connected to something greater than myself, and allows me to make work that has an energy or essence about it that I hope people resonate with.

7. How do you spend your spare time?

These days my spare time is taking walks with my squeeze | Justin Richel

and our little kitty | Theodore

8. What are your five favorite sites you visit?

I’m a tad obsessed with Flickr (and the lovely community there), so I have to say I love to keep up with what these (how about) 6 artists are doing these days. I feel that all of them are creating some really fresh work that is always hugely inspiring to me!

Betsy Walton

Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch

Allyson Mellberg

Robert Hardgrave

Alexis Anne Mackenzie

Hernan Paganini

9. In your artist statement you speak of finding connection, do you think you'll ever find what you're looking for or will there always be more to explore?

I hope there will be many more connections to discover! It’s the seeking that keeps me engaged, and always curious about what might be around the bend!

10. Thanks for taking the time to participate. Do you have any last words of inspiration or a favorite quote?

Thanks Kyle for inviting me! I’d say my all time favorite quote is by Joseph Campbell – “Follow your bliss”. It’s a very simple quote and if you can truly follow, I believe all good things will come.

For more of Shannon's work you can visit her blog or on flickr. And if you're interested in making a purchase please visit her etsy shop.

interview: kelly dyson

Kelly Dyson Self Portrait Illustration When I first stumbled upon the work of Kelly Dyson I was in awe. The magical, emotional view of his characters reminded me of a darker Alice in Wonderland ... as if it weren't dark enough. His use of grunge and splatter textures are refined and not overpowering to the main focus of his illustrations. So when he told me he would love to do this interview I was delighted. Please enjoy.

1 - I love your style. When did you first become interested in design/illustration?

Thanks. I guess I was interested in drawing from a pretty young age. I have memories of doing drawings in junior school and the whole class standing around my table saying how great my drawing was... I never made the link between drawing and illustration though, so when I left school I went on to mostly irrelevant courses, worked in factories, in care, etc. Eventually I landed a lucky job through a friend to do drawings for a leaflet he was doing - through that I realised that there was a whole world of people out there who do this illustration thing for a living. That's when I first became interested in illustration as a profession as separate from drawing as a hobby I guess.

2 - What is your background in art and design and what made you become a designer/illustrator?

I have a degree in photography which at the time felt like there was a point to it, but when I finished I didn't really pick up a camera in the same way again. My passion for many years has been creating music rather than anything visual. Why did I become an illustrator... initially because it seemed absurd that I could get paid for drawing I guess and it's a nice clean job that doesn't involve wiping bums or getting verbally abused by naughty kids or anything like that. It's taken about three or four years for me to develop an aesthetic that I feel is getting somewhere and to be able to say that I'm doing it because it feels good.

Kelly Dyson Tree Hair Illustration

3 - Who or what would you say has the biggest influence on the work you're doing?

Neil Young, Elliott Smith, Mount Eerie, Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, etc pretty much on shuffle all day long. Illustration? I really don't know. It's only recently that I've started bookmarking other illustrators websites and feeling excited about stuff to be honest. I don't know the name of any illustrators or designers off the top of my head and I don't really spend much time thinking about it. But I could name you loads of bands or poets or authors, but I couldn't honestly say that they had influenced my illustration work. Maybe that's why I feel like a bit of a fraud when it comes to illustration. I never trained at it and never really built at it. I really want to produce something meaningful but have to keep producing commercial work to pay my debts. So it goes.

4 - What tools do you normally use for a project from start to finish?

Straightforward stuff - if it's a regular commission then I'll start sketching ideas with pencils, then once a rough is agreed I'll try to do the whole thing properly with pencil, then scan it and do all the lines in Illustrator. This is what takes me ages - I create all my lines with the pen tool in illustrator. I mean I actually make the appearance of an inked line by creating a shape. It takes me a long, long time but I haven't figured out a way of getting a better line yet. I've recently invested in real pen and inks, but I'm still experimenting with them. I bought Corel Painter not too long ago, but I haven't had much time to play with it, so for the time being I'm stuck with the pen tool in Illustrator. From there I copy the 'inked' illustration into Photoshop and usually colour it with shape layers and muck about with transparency, layer effects, etc until I'm happy with the finished thing.

Kelly Dyson Garland Illustration

5 - What has been your favorite project you've worked on, and what has been the hardest?

That's a difficult one to answer. Without a doubt, my favourite and most challenging project has been the most recent album we've just recorded. It's the first time we have worked with a producer - do you know Adem? He's worked with us in the studio and really pushed us to create something that we wouldn't have forced out by ourselves.

As far as illustration is concerned, my favourite projects are self initiated work. When you have a quiet spell as a freelancer you get the opportunity to create work for the hell of it and you feel your work developing from day to day. Then when the work starts coming in again, you are asked to produce illustrations at very short notice to strict deadlines and so you don't get chance to mess around - you have to go with what you know just to get it done on time and to budget. I don't think that commercial commissions are the right place to experiment and have fun. That's until the next quiet spell when you can start playing again :)

6 - How would you say being a designer influences your life? Do you feel you have a different perspective on things around you?

Sometimes. Sometimes you feel really 'tuned in' to what you are doing, you have about five projects on the go and just walking down to the shops you start seeing 'hidden meanings' or messages (that probably don't exist) in advertising boards, juxtaposition of banal objects, poetry in things people say, that kind of stuff and you jot it all down and it feels great and that's what it's all about. On the other hand, most of the time you can be worrying about paying the bills or where the next job is coming from and that puts an abrupt end to creative thinking eh.

Kelly Dyson Polar Bear Illustration

7 - How do you spend your spare time?

I don't seem to have very much of it, but when I do I play with my band, I'm in a mountain rescue team, I like cooking vegan food, drinking in the local pub with friends then staying up all night on the Playstation, I take my dog for a walk, chill out with my girlfriend, run in the Peak District, do a bit of hillwalking, waste hours browsing crap on the internet, that kind of thing. I've recently started drawing in a Moleskine sketchbook for fun.

8 - What are your five favorite sites you visit?

9 - What is the meaning behind the name of you site "don't wake me up"?

It's the name of an album by the Microphones.

10 - Thanks for taking the time to participate. Do you have any last words of inspiration or a favorite quote?

I don't know, there are so many amazing words out there to quote but they wont mean anything out of context and part of the fun is finding them for yourself :)

Kelly Dyson Feral Illustration

Kelly Dyson Sleeping Rabbit Illustration

The commercial side of Kelly's work is more lighthearted and kid friendly.

Kelly Dyson Health Service Journal Illustration

Kelly Dyson Commercial Illustrations

Kelly is also in a band, Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love.

Kelly Dyson Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love

For even more Kelly Dyson: Don't Wake Me Up Kelly Dyson Illustration 20 questions with Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love Official Site

interview: ian dingman

This week I am happy to present an interview with illustrator Ian Dingman. If you don't recognize his name you should recognize his most recent work, the cover for Bottle Rocket Criterion Collection. Ian has been showing his work for a few years now, mostly along the east coast, while producing commercial work for clients such as The New York Times, The Guardian and Real Simple Magazine. So take a minute or two and familiarize yourself with the impressive Ian Dingman.

Ian Dingman Illustrations

1. What is your art and design background and what made you become a illustrator?

I graduated in 2001 from Illinois State University with a BA in Art. For a couple of years I worked at a publishing company doing graphic design and illustration. At night I would paint. I slowly built up a style as well as a portfolio. I switched from oil painting to watercolor and ink simply because I liked cranking out large numbers of pieces. This is what ultimately lead me to becoming a full time illustrator.

2. When did you first become interested in art?

I don't remember a time when I wasn't interested in art. I've just always enjoyed creating something on paper. Also, I'm not really the sketching type. When I sit down and draw or paint, I typically come up with a final piece. I wish I could fill a sketchbook like a lot of other artists can, but I've tried and simply can't. So, even when pieces go horribly wrong, you can find me at my drawing table, desperately trying to find a way to fix the problem.

Ian Dingman Illustrations

3. Who has the biggest influence on your style of illustration?

Painters David Hockney and Luc Tuymans, and also photographer Uta Barth. I've always felt a connection to Hockney's work whether it presents itself in my pieces or not. His compositions have always interested me as well as his color palette. Tuymans and Barth are influential in a more subliminal way. The atmospheres they create are genuinely moving, and I try to capture that in my work.

4. What tools do you normally use for a project from start to finish?

I work primarily with watercolor and ink on hot pressed watercolor paper. Occasionally I'll add acrylic, gouache or graphite. That’s where it ends when I’m working on my personal projects, but for the illustration jobs I’m hired for I’ll often do a little digital touching up. I started as a purist and refused to do any digital re-working, but over the years I've learned what I'm going to have to add or remove digitally since watercolor can be a tricky medium to work with. I lost the pretentiousness, too. Generally I work 95% by hand and 5% by computer.

Ian Dingman Illustrations

5. How does being an artist influence your life? Would you say you have a different perspective on things around you?

It's an evolution. I don't always see the big picture, but will be interested in specific things for a length of time, and then I'll move on to something else. Years ago I lived in a historic landmark type of neighborhood here in Chicago. At the time I was mostly interested in people and expressions. By the time I got around to being interested in architecture I was no longer living in that area, so I missed out on a lot of things that could have been a great inspiration to me. When I lived in New York I was still interested in architecture, so there was plenty of stimuli there, and hopefully I made up a little for what I lost in Chicago. I don't think I necessarily have a different perspective on things, but more of a different way of studying details.

6. How do you spend your spare time?

I read quite a bit. Most of my work, in some way or another, incorporates something I imagined while reading — an idea, an expression or maybe even a composition. Most of these ideas are usually vague, but they help build structures for future pieces. I watch a lot of films, too, and also enjoy an occasional rock concert.

Ian Dingman Illustrations

7. What are 5 of your favorite websites and why? - I like to see what friends are listening to. - Hand picked creative link site. - A new print every week by great artists. - Because I like to know things. - A UK run review site.

8. How did you get the job of illustrating the new cover for Bottle Rocket?

I was actually on a little weekend getaway, an escape from work and the city, but the first night I decided to check my e-mail. (I try so hard not to while on vacation, but I can’t help myself.) I had a message from Criterion outlining the “Bottle Rocket” project and asking if I was interested. So, yeah, I was excited. I had seen the movie a long time ago and have always been a fan of Wes' movies as well as Eric's artwork. He unfortunately was unavailable for the project.

Bottle Rocket Criterion Collection Cover

9. Any last words?

Check your e-mail while you're on vacation. You check your voice-mail don't you?

One last thanks to Ian for a great interview and the wonderful illustrations. For even more work and to see a complete bio visit Ian [at]

interview: richard holt

In keeping with my new design and my new outlook for this website, I proudly present the first interview with graphic designer Richard Holt. Richard, or sometimes just ®, is based out of London and the owner of Some of his client work includes Sony Music ISM, Silverback, and more recently he branded the logo for the new Alfa Romeo Mito.

1 - What is your art and design background and what made you become a graphic designer?

I guess I don't really have a formal Art and Design background as such.  I enjoyed drawing when I was little and I grew up doing imaginative things, inventing, writing, drawing and just generally having mad ideas. I remember cutting up old Radio Times magazines and things to make cassette covers, painstakingly positioning the individual letters along the spine to spell out the title. I even had a little logo I used to put on all my schoolwork but I didn't know for a long time that there was a job which might allow my to pursue those sorts of things. I always liked art and was a bit of a geek too, so loved technology. I guess graphic design neatly lets me indulge both of those sides of my character and I'm still equally excited by the screen as I am paper. I did the usual stuff; school then art college. I took a job as a junior designer in my home town for a year before I went to university which was good experience and headed straight for London after finishing my graphic design degree at Bath. I was lucky to get a job straightaway and I've worked my way up from there. No-one's rumbled me yet...

2 - When did you first become interested in design?

In terms of design being about problem solving, I think I've always been interested in that. Kids try and fit square blocks into round holes don't they and I guess that's still what I'm trying to do. I first realised that graphic design might be an actual job that I could pursue while doing art classes at school. We were asked to make and label a folder for the year's work and I think I spent more time on getting that right than the still life stuff afterwards. From then on I seemed to be given more projects with a graphic aspect. I used to draw pictures in huge pixels using whatever prehistoric version of M$ Paint we had in the IT room, I still have those pictures somewhere...

3 - Who has the biggest influence on your style of design?

The people I work with and have worked with. I admire lots of well known designers but you never get to interrogate them, you can't debate the merits of one idea over another like you can with the person sitting next to you. I always make my best advances as a result of interacting with other people, the client, a colleague, a friend down the pub...

4 - What tools do you normally use for a project from start to finish?

Ears, eyes, brain, pen, Mac.

5 - How does being a designer influence your life? Would you say you have a different perspective on things around you?

Yes, I find it particularly hard to walk past bad signage or apostrophes in the wrong place without taking pictures. I have an almost obsessive need to document everything (see ) I figure that the more things I can recall, the more combinations of things there are to try as part of a solution to the next problem I'm handed...

6 - How do you spend your spare time?

Writing lists of how to best spend my spare time.

7 - What are 5 of your favorite websites and why?

1 - is invaluable for bring the bits of the web I'm interested in to me, saving me having to go and look for them. 2 - is a fascinating can of worms which I haven't got bored of yet. 3 - makes sure I always have something to listen to. 4 - shows what an organic thing the web is and always turns up something fascinating 5 - usually has something sensible to say.

For even more Richard Holt you can find him around the web at these social networks: