The AGSC Interviews – Drew Melton

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One of the many things we aim to do with The AGSC is to inspire other creatives with not only our work, but with others’ as well. We’ve been tremendously inspired by the hardworking and talented Drew Melton. We’re yet to have the privilege of meeting Drew in person, but after we’d gotten to know him a little over twitter and email, we discovered rather quickly what sound words of wisdom he has, and how he’s learnt a great deal from reflecting on his experiences. By the way, he’s just recently released a very Handsome Script that will knock your socks off.

Thank you Drew for your time and words!

What brought you to the question, “Why do things look that way instead of this way”?

I am not totally sure I understand the question but I’ll answer as best I can. I think exposure to different kinds of thought, design, lifestyle, etc. has brought me to this question over and over. When you’re exposed to something new you realize that there is more than one way to view and interact with the world. These challenges to my status quo have always lead to positive change. My first exposure to design was definitely my first Apple Powerbook laptop. I had been on PC’s most of my life and I was 16 when I bought it with my own money – I spent hours on it and I still remember how beautiful the interface felt. The feeling I had when using an apple device has never been duplicated on other platforms. At least not yet!

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Each designer is fueled by some purpose to make things more “beautiful” in the world, what’s your purpose and vision for yourself?

Wow that’s an amazing question! I’m challenging a lot of my habits and industry expectations lately. I know that I want to make beautiful things that I am proud of every day. I know that I don’t like wasting time on busywork and that very few client projects give me the same deep satisfaction that personal projects do. I really love being my own client because I give myself a lot of permission to go after the ideal without a whole lot of constraint. Oh and another thing – I want the things I make to support me financially so that I can live a good life outside of work. This idea is new for me and I’ve been afraid to admit it in the past but no matter how passionate I am about something it’s hard to stay creative when you’re working 18 hours a day “For the love of it”. I see a lot of designers (Myself included) working way too much. Working a lot is amazing but a lot of us are doing busy work for the sake of being busy. My new goal is to work less but to do work that is really important and will sustain me and my family at the same time financially. I love going on walks, riding my bike, seeing the latest blockbuster in a theater full of strangers. I am obsessed with design and I don’t see that changing soon. But if I can put in 6 hours of great work every day instead of 12 hours of mediocre work… I’ll take 6.

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There’s more to design than “making things pretty,” how do you discern the relationship between beauty and function?

You really can’t have one without the other as a graphic designer. I think aesthetics have a bad reputation (Even though it seems to be the focus of many products these days). There has been something about aesthetic beauty that goes deeper than frivolity. For instance, Egyptians used to bleach their hair (True Story)! They also learned to curl and set their hair using some pretty dangerous tools. Humans have always sought beauty and expression. It’s important. I didn’t fall in love with design because it solved my problems. I’m into design because when I was 15 and I would buy a new album I would spend hours looking over album art and it made me feel something. I wanted to do feel “that” as a creator.

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Your open apology to some of your design heroes took some courage, what were some of the first steps you took after that letter?

Honestly, that letter marked the beginning of a really hard year for me — I started to let go of a lot of superficial things I had been chasing. I have always really wanted to be accepted. Social media feeds that desire greatly for me but it has never satisfied me. My desire to grow a large following and make work that people would click the “like” button for caused me to short-sell myself creatively. I wasn’t taking the time to really develop my skills and I never really figured out what I wanted. Very soon after the blog post I went through a depression that has followed me ever since. I think I just cracked a little. The process of coming out of that phase has been slow but I am feeling better than I have in a long time recently. I attribute this to my growing hobby of font creation (It makes me so happy) but also to a healthier diet and my amazing coach, Jason Blumer, who has helped me figure out what I actually like to do. He’s helped me uncover a much healthier working style.

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Has your style changed and developed as you’ve grown as a designer?

Oh absolutely — It’s funny though. I’ve changed a lot and very little at the same time. I find it interesting to watch designers grow over the years. Many artists don’t understand that what makes them special is not how good they are but who they are. I’ve had people tell me over the years that they can always spot one of my pieces because I always do things a certain way. They tell me it’s just… Me. I still don’t get it but I know it’s true. In the meantime I think my work is getting smarter and tighter.

What do you find yourself reading the most?

Zenhabits and Seth Godins blog.

What catches your eye the most? What do you find interesting?

Anything by Herb Lubalin. Also Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. blows my mind all the time. I don’t know why exactly but I am so impressed by all of her work.

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What do you want to learn how to do/more about?

I want to be really great at executing my ideas. The best feeling in the world is executing a vision well. That’s why I draw things over and over so much by hand. My process is about “getting it right” and a lot of times that means a lot of repetition. My goal is to get so good that there is less repetition. In the meantime I have to go through a lot of work to uncover the the outcome.

Anchor Paper Co is lovely, how’s working with your spouse?

Well… It’s actually kind of dead right now. We got really sick of packing shipments and going to the post office so we’ve stopped pursuing it, ha!

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Thanks for reading. Be on the look out for more interviews to come!

Stay fresh.

Brady.