NDO Podcast – EP. 064 – High Road Design – "DESIGN TAKES TIME"
On the NDO Podcast, we interview creative entrepreneurs on the story behind their particular craft, including their why, their how, and their influences.
This is a snippet of Episode 063 from the NDO* Podcast with The High Road Design: illustrator, graphic designer, West Coast hip-hop enthusiast, and above all, an immense wealth of information and experience in the design industry. On this episode, we discuss the origin story behind High Road Design, how design trends have changed over the decades, the shift towards UX/UI design, and much more.
R: When you were first learning [design] was it overwhelming? In design school they have base templates; with the Internet you have access to everything, all the time.
J: I’m more overwhelmed now more than I was then! There was a point where I didn’t know what i was looking for. However, I had a job where I could learn [graphic/poster design] at Jane Bond + Starlight.
Our poster designer quit at one point and I immediately said “I’ll do them”.
And that started me down a path of doing posters for a long time. I used to use gigposters.com run by Clay Hayes from Calgary. It was the biggest repository of gig posters at that time and the luminaries of the game were hanging out there; you could get feedback from anyone there. It was in its very early stages but it was a fantastic resource.
So…I just jumped right in [to poster design]. I knew I wanted to do it. I knew Jane Bond would give me the opportunity to learn at my own pace; there was lots of progression in the ten-plus years of doing that.
R: And I love that wisdom, because for people my age – I’m 27 – we get frustrated that we don’t get things right away, or that we’re not where we’re supposed to be right now, or that we are behind our peers…
But in reality, we’re young as shit and have time to learn, grow, and iterate. It’s not a race.
These things take time to mature. We’re young as shit. And not jus to learn the fundamentals of our respective crafts, but the history behind it; not to mention taking time to let our unique style(s) marinate.
J: Totally. There’s a brain burn from social media.
I saw everything from every field – typography, illustration, logo design – and it all filled my brain to the brim and made me feel like I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
It distracted me from having a focus. I was afraid to draw for a long time: I’d buy two sketchbooks, fill out two pages, and then stop.
Getting an iPad pro, getting Procreate, was something that changed the way I looked at everything. It meant could draw at anytime, anywhere, under any lighting condition.
R: Accessibility is everything, but also having a particular focus is huge. You go through decision paralysis otherwise: you can literally learn anything about any facet of design at anytime. So, what do you do?
J: You have to get through the noise. My brain hurt from knowing I wasn’t doing the things I needed to do. I saw other people’s work and saw their unique style(s) and mentally it would affect me, because I thought “Why am I not there. yet?
Things changed once the design world changed, actually. There was a shift towards UI/UX that, as an old-school guy, made me think “That’s someone else’s job”.
Now everyone is supposed to know the full gamut of software out there, which kills me! It makes me feel like I’m slowly being pushed out of a field. Which is why I got the iPad and started doing creative stuff to make my own opportunities. It feels like the opportunities in the design world are different now, so you have to make your own.
R: The person who excels at packaging design is now expected to also know HTML/CSS, or how to edit video, which is a wild concept.
But then it makes you second-guess yourself: should you be an expert or a generalist in your field?
It’s good to have a diverse skill set, but are you the go-to for a certain thing? Logo design? Web work?
J: You only know through trial and error and doing that thing that gives you an “Ah-ha!” moment. Get through the noise and start working on the things that truly matter to you, and things will change after that.