Written By Jebediah Shorten
1. Where’re ya from? Where’d you grow up?
I was born and raised outside of Washington, D.C. in Virginia. Grew up there my whole life.
2. Did you always dream or pursue graphic design or visual arts?
I started getting into graphic design when I was probably 13 or 14. I think we had a version of Photoshop on the family computer at home and I started just making stupid little graphics for friends on this video game forum. I didn’t really know it was graphic design at the time, I was just having fun. After getting more and more into it throughout high school I thought it was something I could pursue.
3. What did you study in Uni? Or ‘collage’ as they say in the states?
Haha yes in “collage” I studied Visual Communication Design which is pretty synonymous with what graphic design is.
4. What’re your thoughts on the contemporary arts scene and whom do you follow on Insta that we probs should?
I really love what’s currently happening in graphic design. I think people are doing amazing things, especially with typography and layout, that are so expressive and distinct. Right now, legibility and practicality have really taken a backseat to this maximalist, in-your-face aesthetic that feels so refreshing to me. There are so many talented designers on Instagram but a few of my favorites are Alex Dueckminor (@thecrystalbeach) Jacob Wise (@jacob.j.wise) Kristýna Kulíková (@ktstnklkv) and Aeni Kaiser (@aeni.kaiser)
5. How did you get into the industry and what was your first paid gig?
Well I graduated from university in 2015 and a couple months after graduating I landed a job at a small design agency in Virginia. Nothing crazy there, but as far as freelance goes, it’s actually pretty funny. I think I was 19 and somehow I’d been connected with a local music manager in Virginia. He told me he had a new artist called Goldlink James who needed a logo. I think I got like $50 for it- little did I know that artist would eventually change his name to just Goldlink and become a Grammy nominated artist. But that was definitely a unique first client! Too bad the logo was pretty terrible :(
6. Tell me a little about the company Bytedance?
I actually just stopped working at Bytedance a month ago to focus on freelance design full time. But Bytedance is a massive Chinese tech company that owns a bunch of different apps. I was working on the app Tik Tok while I was there. My focus was product design instead of graphic design, which meant a lot of user flows and designing new features for the app. Interesting stuff, but not my passion.
7. Who’s your biggest inspiration? Doesn’t have to be in visual arts, like it could be Lassie after all.
Damn that’s tough. I think it’s easy to list out a few designers who produce incredible work, but as far as people go, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more inspired than after the first time I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Maybe cheesy but facts!
8. Ok now WHAT inspires you most, again I’ll give you an example, i.e grandfather clock.
A friend of mine was talking about this a little while ago and the more I noticed it, the more I began to be inspired by it. There are so many shitty strip malls in LA and most of them have terrible signage and graphics. But sometimes these ridiculous typefaces and compositions come together in a way that is like so naive and un-designed that it’s actually super inspiring. Or maybe someone added a little bit of graffiti over a doorway sign and boom this crazy, maximalist composition just appeared out of nowhere.
9. What’s the biggest struggle you face being based in California?
Probably how fucking expensive it is to live here. I day dream about moving to the middle of nowhere and having a reasonable rent and lower taxes.
10. And what’s the biggest gains to be based in California, besides ‘legs day and a protein shake?’
I think the network of people out here is amazing. At least in America, I don’t think there’s anywhere other than maybe New York where I could meet so many other talented designers and creatives. It’s funny because almost no one is actually from LA, we all just moved here looking for new opportunities- so that shared mentality and drive kind of links us together.
11. Last thing on L.A real quick, is the O.C factual?
100%. If you ever want to see an endless amount of beautiful, rich people, visit Orange County for a day.
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