Brian Bowman is creative director at Nice Shoes, a studio that delivers motion and interactive content, from concept to completion, across all media platforms. Recently he created an innovative music video for indie band Tiny Victories using a haptic iPhone interface, a gorgeous rotoscoped short for the Partnership at Drugfree.org, and helped Kanye West create his mammoth 7-screen film "Cruel Summer," which premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
I'm Not Pretending
If you have a degree in what field is it? Architecture. It may seem like architecture has little to do with entertainment and advertising but architecture taught me everything about creative process, commitment and the real importance of criticism.
What's the strangest request you've received from a client? "Let's create a version they will hate so they will be forced to choose the one we like."
What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? The TSA. For a variety of reasons they have failed to instill trust in the American public, and unlike other federal organizations, the TSA interfaces with the public every day. Essentially we are on the same team, all of us want to travel safely, but in terms of communicating this through messaging, graphics, uniforms, interaction experience, they have failed miserably.
From where do your best ideas originate?
The bathtub. Better to imagine yourself in the bathtub daydreaming than imagining me in one (but you can if you want to).
How do you overcome a creative block?
Creative blocks and procrastination are ultimately about fear. Fear that you won't be original or that you'll create shitty things. This leads to laziness that then leads to self-loathing and becomes a vicious cycle. Acknowledge the fact that the shitty things will lead to something great; you owe it to yourself not to give up. Realize that what you are doing may not be important to anyone else, but it has to be critically important to you to be meaningful.
What's your dream project (not client, but project)?
Building a spaceship—a real one. I'm being totally serious.
Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design?
I horse around with electronic music. I wanted it to be big bad and dark, but it sounds like silly happy techno. It turns out that's the kind of music I make. Now the challenge is to make it feel real instead of like adult-alternative nonsense. The nonsense part is probably inevitable.
Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire?
I have so many! R/GA comes to mind, just because they have successfully reinvented themselves so many times while pushing innovation and creating new industry paradigms. I admire the Bauhaus. The idea that art can completely break from history and be entirely new is the essence of modernism.
If you weren't working as a designer what would you be doing?
I've never considered this. (See what I did there, I refused to answer your question with a pretentious statement. I am DEFINITELY a designer.)
What's your approach to balancing work and life?
I love what I do. I love my family too. I couldn't be who I am without either one. I try not to make it a choice but a decision. I also try to be a stickler on the details because the little things matter, especially for kids: say what you are going to do and mean it, don't be late for family events, don't cancel time you have committed too. Once I've decided on a priority, it's in stone, whatever happens so be it.
What product/gadget can you not live without?
The fan next to my bed helps me sleep. It has to go with me when I travel because of the specific frequency it makes. Whoa, the troubles I have without my fan.
What's your favorite quote?
"You're so wise. You're like a miniature Buddha covered with hair." —Ron Burgundy (to dog) [fictional 70s news anchor character portrayed by Will Ferrell in the 2004 film Anchorman.]
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession?
Nobody knows everything—they just pretend they do. People who talk the most are the biggest pretenders. The Pretenders are an over-rated band. I like Chrissy Hynde's voice, we all do, but when she sings the lyric from Brass in Pocket, "I'm special, so special" you know you roll your eyes too. All of that being said, Learning to Crawl is a great record.
What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?
You won't be an architect.