Rob Blackard is a designer and illustrator who I have admired from a far via social media. His playful yet sophisticated work creates a perfect blend and balance between design and illustration. Rob uses color, shape and typography to create an eclectic and concise array of visual imagery. With clients like IBM, The New York Times, and HOW magazine Rob's work has proven to be effective as he successfully pays homage to a mid century design aesthetic while being aware of modern trends and visual patterns.
I had the chance to do a quick Q & A with Rob about a month ago.. take a look and let us know what you think.
CH: How did you begin your career as a creative? Were you a creative kid growing up or did art & design become a part of your life later on?
I come from a family that expressed their creativity in different ways. My dad loved pencil sketches and woodworking. My mom, grandmother and even my grandfather were excellent with their hands. They loved handicraft. quilting and sewing. My choice was drawing and painting. I still remember to this day one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received was a box full of art supplies from my aunt. I was more excited about that than any toy I had ever received!
CH: Several of your pieces center around custom lettering and type, when did you first become interested in lettering and how did you approach integrating that with your work?
In college we were taught mostly about traditional typography and type setting. It was done in a very academic way and it didn't have much appeal for me then. Later in my career I began working in the craft and DIY market designing paper products, stickers and 3D elements. This is when I began experimenting and creating my own lettering. I was free to do whatever I wanted and I would design many of the fonts to mix and match with other products to form a cohesive collection.
CH: On your website you describe your style as playful sophistication. I think that is a pretty spot on description. How do you approach balancing the two?
I'm naturally a pretty eclectic person. My tastes run the gamut from decorative and whimsical to minimal and sophisticated. I think that's how my work ends up in that space.
CH: Besides being an illustrator and artist, you also work as a product designer. Can you share with us some of the rewards and challenges that come with that job?
Creating something that has a life or function beyond being purely visual is one of my favorite things about product design. I work quite a bit in the art/craft/DIY category. Some examples are paper crafting and fabric. People are inspired by what I've created and use that as a jumping off point for their own projects. They take what I've done and then create something entirely different and new from it. I love seeing what they come up with and I'm continually inspired and motivated by their talent and vision.
CH: What is your favorite part about designing your own fonts and lettering? What are some of the challenges that come integrating lettering with some of the other work you're putting out there?
We're exposed to so much type and lettering in the course of an average day and most of it is usually very functional in nature. I think that's what makes it so fun to play with, to take the functional and make it fantasy. I enjoy making each letter its own separate piece of art and then working those letters into a complete design. The letters are used to form a word or phrase that have meaning and then the design itself adds an additional layer of depth.
CH: We have a lot of younger entry level creatives that follow our blog, what advice can you give to them as aspiring creative professionals?
I would say be open. Open to all the avenues and opportunities that are available which will allow you to express your creative vision and make money. When I was starting out I really only wanted to be an illustrator in the most traditional sense. Magazines, editorial, books, design studios etc. I went that route for years and was pretty fulfilled by it but things gradually changed. I allowed myself to open up and expand my vision beyond what I knew or thought my career should look like. Soon opportunities, people, technology and circumstances began to orchestrate new and exciting ventures that were a perfect fit for me.
Be appreciative of your talents and vision. Appreciate that you are a creator and trust that everything will unfold for you in just the right way. Opportunity is all around you.
To see more of Rob's work please visit his site at robblackardstudio.com