Duration: I’ve been a freelance illustrator for two years, but I’ve worked in design for twelve years.
Location: Dallas, Texas.
Education: BFA in graphic design, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa, Texas.
Career path: I have always had a passion for art, and I was fortunate to have teachers who encouraged me to keep drawing—even when I would get in trouble for sketching too much. And, at a time when I had no clue of what I wanted to do in college, a high school teacher suggested making art my college major. I’m thankful to her and all my other teachers because I studied art and never looked back.
After graduating, I struggled to find work in my hometown of Odessa, but I finally landed my big break with an internship at watch retail company Fossil Group. At the age of 28, I was the oldest intern by a mile, but I was happy to have the chance to work there after being passed up several times. After Fossil, I landed a job at the licensed sports collectible company Panini America in Irving, Texas. There, I started as a designer and am now an art director. During the day, I design trading cards for Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, and at night and on the weekends, I illustrate.
Originally, I’d never considered myself an illustrator, but Stewart Scott-Curan, who was working at Intercom at the time, and now is the senior director of brand at Loom, saw my work and asked me to do a few blog illustrations. That ignited a passion in me that had been missing from design.
Artistic influences: I’m originally from West Texas where things are pretty simple, which explains why I fell in love with Swiss Design and the Bauhaus movement. Their core principles are present in much of my work. The simplistic approach to complex subjects has always inspired me. I love initially creating something simple, but then making it interesting by adding colors and textures. I also look to the past for inspiration, so I hit up vintage shops and flea markets to look through old ephemera. Designers from the past did so much with so little—it’s very inspirational.
Favorite projects: Working with Herb Lester Associates, as I’d been a fan of the city guide publisher for years, to create guides for Hamburg, Germany, and Liverpool, United Kingdom. Landing the job left me both nervous and excited, but I was proud to join the diverse group of designers and illustrators. It was my first major gig as an illustrator, and it gave me so much confidence going forward. I truly feel they opened so many doors for me.
Approach: I try to incorporate as much texture and hand-drawn elements as I can in my work. I love how much depth these elements can add to a piece that would otherwise appear flat. My workspace is my garage, where I keep a variety of paints and paper scraps that I use to create texture. I also screen print all the posters I sell.
Aspirations: I would love for illustration to become a bigger part of my freelance work. Deep down, I think everyone in this business has Impostor Syndrome. However, with each new client and piece, I feel that mine fades away more and more. I never would have dreamed that I’d be working with the clients I’ve had thus far, and I’m determined to reach even further in years to come.
Anything else? As a design community, we should do a better job of encouraging each other. Tell that designer you follow you admire their work—it may be the boost they need. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your design friends to join you on personal projects if you feel that it could get more eyeballs on their work. I recently started a fun side project called the Texas Forever Project with Carra Sykes, where some of my fellow Texas-based designers and I redesign posters for movies about or based in Texas. The results have been incredible. Many more artists have joined in the project, with work still to come.