March 14, 2012

Inquiring About Design

Find out what makes graphic designer Tom Brown tick...





1. Do you have a particular design movement that you would say is your
favorite? If so, why?

TBAD: Because of my education in the land of magazines, i grew up on a
steady diet of "those who came before me"…art directors and designers
of the distant and not-so-distant past…but I was taught to look beyond
the pages of current magazines…or magazines at all for that
matter...Twen's Willy Fleckhaus, Josef Muller-Brockmann, Rip Georges,
Robert Priest, Mike Meiré, Neville Brody, Malcolm Garret were
superstar names that i admired and demonstrated innovation in almost
everything they were involved with...

2. Recently you transformed an acid-rained-on leaf into an amazing,
delicate looking calligraphic "A" --can you give your thoughts on art
(and particularly graphic design and typography) in relation to

TBAD: I'm very much drawn to the beauty found in natural things…i love
how complex nature is and the patterns that exist…the skeleton leaf
that my children found in the yard of our home was especially
intriguing to me…so intricate was it's framework…it was immediately





3. If you had to describe your work as an analogy to food, how would
you proceed? Same for describing it in musical metaphors.

TBAD: well i often describe the process of design that i engage in
like that of jazz music…i tend to tinker with ideas and allow whatever
discoveries i stumble upon to lead me to (hopefully) newer places that
i haven't been…i rely on randomness and surprise observations in my
work…i try to never be deliberate apart from expressing the message or
point of what i'm being asked to create…so i guess with that in mind i
prefer a music composition metaphor as opposed to a food metaphor
because i find the process of making food a messy one…and i don't like
clutter or mess when i work…

 4. Do you prefer working in a group, a pair, or solo?

TBAD: i prefer to work alone…mainly because i enjoy the personal
experimental process of design…i think it has something to do with my
earlier years and sleepless nights of my art school days…i love the
quiet of night and the atmosphere created by some introverted music
and dim lighting in my studio…that said i did enjoy my days running
art departments at various magazines and the travel to different
cities to manage and plan future issues…things change and evolve in
how i work and now i'm very excited to do collaborative work…but it
takes the right fit with an individual…Fredrik Brodén and i have
worked together on almost every magazine that i've art directed and we
have created some very memorable pieces together…so it was a natural
fit for us to unite our talents…

5. In what kind of environment do you find yourself working best? What
would be the worst conditions for working, for you?

TBAD: the best kind of working environment is one where the client
brings the same passion for what they need as i do to figuring out how
to solve their need. I like having a "reason" to do something…i don't
work in a vacuum or desire to "express" myself…i have other projects
that i invent to satisfy those desires…to collaborate with a client
and be trusted…i guess thats the best…the worst is the
opposite…producing work "just to get something done"…to meet a
deadline…that type of work requires no thought or imagination…which is
why i interview my potential clients as much as they investigate me
before we close on an agreement to work together…my worst nightmare is
when a client says to me "I want this.." and they produce a page from
a folder of something pre-existing…as if they expect you to replicate
something that already exists…thats not what i do…



6. What do you think your most pronounced shortcoming is in regards to
your work as an artist/designer?

TBAD: self doubt…because a graphic designer (should) spend the
majority of their time on a project exploring and allowing ideas or
directions to lead the way it can lead you to places that you don't
recognize as familiar territory…therefore your decision making can
spiral out of control without ever realizing that you are onto
something…it's also a down-side to working independently…you have no
sounding board readily accessible…

7. What, if anything, is your biggest gripe about your job?

TBAD: well i don't view my work as a "job"…i love what i do with a
passion…it's extremely personal and at the same time…has very little
to do with me…and my ambition and drive is not to be "successful" and
"popular"…it is to simply do the best work i can…that has always been
the self-coaching voice in my head to push ideas and not settle for
things…many of my colleagues admittedly look for easy fixes or land on
decisions that already exist…claiming that striving to be original is
fruitless and unrealistic…but i see that as selling out…lazy…and
backward…it's the forming of bad habits like this that shorten careers
and cheapen the industry…i may not be successful at being original…but
my goal is and always has been to go down trying…