Day 235

Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with a class at the Chicago Portfolio School. As the third Q&A I’ve done with students at part of #TGAA, I’m officially convinced that it will never get any less stressful. I did have a good time though and I want to thank Angela Vitzhum for inviting me into her classroom. She’s been a big part of what's made Chicago another great stop. In fact, I will be attending the Creative Mornings event with her tomorrow as well. I’m pretty excited about it, because I used to attend their events all the time while living in NYC. If you've never been to one, I highly recommend you check it out. 

This week also got me thinking about the true importance of meeting new people, when it comes to the success of this project. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of my stops along the way, not all of them have truly lived up to what they could’ve been and I’ll be the first to admit that. The most exciting cities I've been to are those where I’ve made new friends like Angela—individuals who understand what I’m trying to accomplish and want to help me get there. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve met so many incredible people along the way. But the real difference makers are those whose generosity and curiosity extends beyond the agency walls.

The View from The Creative Group Offices

You can find their names on this page and it continues to grow all the time. They’re the ones helping to bring this project to life on a daily basis. Whether it’s offering to show me a new part of town, extending an invite to a local networking event or tipping others off to my presence, I’m forever grateful to everyone on that list. Yes, on the other hand, I have met individuals who do not care for my project and choose to ignore my existence as a whole, but they have that right. There have been co-workers who never said a word to me during my tenure—despite my greatest efforts—but it is true that you can’t win them all. Rather than dwell on it, I continue to do my best to sway their opinion over time. My hope is that for every one person who doesn’t care, I will find the support of another ten who do. It’s how the project has grown into what it is today.

In the end, I think the different receptions I receive help make the project better as a whole. It forces me to adapt on the fly and find new ways of seeking advice and answers. As a friend told me before I left, “If everyone loves you and everything goes perfectly, it’s not going to be a very interesting journey. It would just be you taking a vacation and no one wants to read about that.”

So, here’s to those out there who’ve helped (and will continue to help) make this project special in their unique own way. (Even if they do eat burritos without me.)

-Steve-

Day 211

On a personal level, one of the great things about #TGAA is that I get to meet artists and designers, who’s work I’ve admired for years. I was actually lucky enough to have such an encounter with Boxing Clever’s own, Matt Reedy. Although he was sitting just a few feet from me, it wasn’t until I saw this article on Kotaku that I even made the connection. But after seeing the “Making Bacon Pancakes” print, I immediately recognized his work. In fact, he has a few pieces floating around the Internet that I—and many of my friends—have loved for quite a while.

Before I left St. Louis, I had the privilege of asking Matt a few questions about his work. So, let’s see how that turned out:

You seem to have such a diverse palette of influences. Where would you say you find the most inspiration?

Influence comes to me from all sorts of places: things I look at online, random ideas my kids come up with, movies, art shows—all that stuff. The biggest influence for me though is the work of my peers. Whenever I see someone I know come up with something cool, it makes me want to do better with my next project. I’m not saying it’s always successful, but at least I know I tried harder and gave it my all.

Can you tell me a little about your background? For instance, how long have you been designing or your overall background in design?

I’ve been working in this field for over 20 years now. I actually switched from a drawing major to a design major about halfway though college. In hindsight, it was probably a great choice, because I’ve stuck with it ever since. The greatest thing about working at Boxing Clever is that I get to work with a lot of guys I met in college, who I’ve been friends with ever since.

Can you talk a little about your process? Do you have anything in particular you use when creating something new?

When starting something new, I usually try to start from scratch. At the very least, I like to draw influence from something semi-related to the project. To be honest, I've never understood designers that just scour other people's work just to mimic it. I think recreating a style as an homage is one thing, but straight-up copying is just lazy.

Based on your experience in the industry, do you have any advice for young creative out there on how to maintain one’s freedom when doing work for clients?

I'm sure every designer out there knows that maintaining creative freedom is tough. It really helps to have a great team that backs you up and a good working relationship with a client. Of course, clients who are open to hearing ideas other than their own are a blessing as well. The easiest way to have total creative control is to do pro-bono work. If they aren't paying, they really can't boss you around. Or even better, just do work your love on your own time. I know a lot of designers that create fantastic art, sometimes just for fun or sometimes to sell on a site like Etsy. If you can get enough cool-looking projects out on your blog or portfolio, clients will start to seek you out for your specific style.

Are there any designers or artists out there, whose work you think people need to check out?

I've got a lot of friends and co-workers who's work amazes and inspires me every day. There's nothing better than seeing a new piece posted on Behance or Facebook, but the one who's work I share the most is from my twin brother, Brian Reedy. It seems like every other day he has some new print or drawing that's just incredible. You can see a lot of his work here.

Much like everyone at Boxing Clever, I can officially vouch that Matt is just as awesome as the work he creates. If you want to see more of what he does, take a gander at his Behance portfolio. Once you're done there, I highly recommend checking out what he has for sale on his Etsy site too.

-Steve-