Our friend Chuck Anderson / NoPattern is a well-known artist & designer based in Chicago, Illinois. Recently, he introduced the Life + Limb Podcast, a podcast where he’s featuring the most interesting, passionate and creative people about their life and career. I personally like to listen to his podcasts, it's a perfect day companion!
Interview with Chuck Anderson aka NoPattern
Chuck Anderson aka NoPattern is one of my favourite designers out there! He changed the freelance industry for the greater good of future designers like us. Entitled with the nickname of the 'Master of Light Effects', Chuck Anderson recently facelift his website with new works and features.
Chuck is also involved in several charities like Charity: Water, WordMadeFlesh and many more! I had the honour to ask him some questions about his philosophy, his knowledge and things that will make you see that Chuck is a successful designer but also an down-to-earth kind of guy with lots of great values.
1. First of all, we would like to thank you for taking your time for this interview with Abduzeedo. For those that aren't familiar with you, tell us a little bit of yourself?
Thank you for interviewing me and for all the continued support Abduzeedo has given my work and the design community. As for me, I'm an artist & designer and have been running my studio NoPattern for nearly 8 years now. I do a lot of work with clients like Microsoft, Reebok, Nike, Vans, and UltimateEars, among others, and do a lot of my own personal work, much of which is available at my online store NPandco.com . The best way to learn about me and my work is to just look through my site NoPattern.com and get a feel for the work and collaborations I've done over the years.
2. Congratulations for your new website, tell us about the new things on your site?
I'm super excited about the new site - it's been a very long time coming. I'd had the same NoPattern site for about 4 years and finally decided it was time for a serious overhaul. I needed a more efficient CMS first off. A backend that would be more effective for the sheer quantity of work I've accumulated over so many years. That was the first hurdle. The second thing was simply wanting a new visual & organizational way to show my work.
The new site allows you to organize by client, type, and year - which makes a lot of sense when you're trying to show close to 100 individual client projects. And check out what happens when you resize my site - keep an eye on all the project images. Fun little easter egg...As for the actual new content on the site, there are a few new projects including collaborations with UnderArmour, Target, FootJoy, and Gizmodo with more projects coming soon with new clients like UltimateEars, Mead, and CAT Footwear. I also took the (very long) time to rephotograph all my work for the site, for example http://www.nopattern.com/work/detail/burton-light-camo-collection which was a great thing to have done but took a ton of time and a lot of hard work. Totally worth doing though.
3. How important it is for you the balance between commercial and personal work for you?
It's important but the reality is I spend 90% of my creating time on commercial work now, which is actually quite fine with me since my clients almost always ask me to experiment and be as creative as I'd be with a personal project, so I'm not complaining at all. On the flipside, my new site is of course considered personal work, my new online store and all the prints available are personal work, all the promoting I do of my brand and work on Twitter, Facebook, etc. is personal work, so while most of the 'creating' time is spent on client work, a large portion of my overall time is spent on all that stuff. Man, I don't know, as long as I'm having fun and making a living from what I love to do I'm happy.
4. You have the design nickname of being the "Master of Lights Effects", how do you feel about that?
I'm not sure how I feel about that. I don't really know where that comes from or anything but I guess if anyone thinks of me and my work in that way it's flattering. Not sure what else to say on that one...I don't consider myself to be a master of anything, except maybe my 2 cats. Ha.
5. On last June, you went to Ethiopia for the Charity: Water.org, tell us a little bit of story and how was your experience?
It was a great experience. It came about while I was in Washington DC at a Summit Series event while speaking with my friend Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity Water. He simply asked me if I'd like to join him and a group of others on a trip to Ethiopia to see what it is they're doing over there and ultimately to help raise money for their cause, which I was thrilled to do. It was a great trip, I saw a lot, met some great people, and have just been floored by the continued success Charity Water has continued to have.
6. What do you feel is the most common mistake that you see other designers do?
Relying too heavily on stock imagery and the internet for resources; not stepping outside what you know and doing new things for yourself. It's not that that's a mistake necessarily, but I just hate to see entire portfolios of things that are half created by the designer and half created by someone they've never even met. I'm just a big believer in a deliberate collaboration or doing everything in your work yourself, 100%, unless you're working for a client and need images that are impossible to get otherwise. Stock has its place, I just hate to see people using it as a crutch and never stretching themselves enough to learn to do new things themselves.
7. What is the one thing in the world that you wish to design or had designed?
That's a great but very difficult question. I'm so grateful for all the amazing opportunities I've already had to be honest, I don't think a lot about "what I'd REALLY like to do" because I'm already doing it. I'm very content when it comes to the projects I've worked on and am working on now. I guess I'd really love to collaborate with a few brands I haven't worked with yet like Apple (although my Windows 7 work may haunt me there), Prada (mainly from seeing what they hired James Jean to do ( James Jean Prada III), Bell & Ross watches.
8. And plans for the future, any new projects?
I have several plans for personal projects I'll be launching this year. One of my big next steps is to begin curating and/or publishing - basically I'm working on a few ways that will serve as outlets for me to give a platform to other creative people I admire whether that's through a book, a design 'news' type site, interviews, or whatever, I really want to start using my platform as a way to give people I admire and up-and-comers some new exposure.
9. Once again, thank you very much for the interview. As a final word, inspired by John C. Jay (http://bit.ly/h8S2PK). What are your 10 lessons for young designers?
1. Be open minded to different styles & aesthetics when you're just getting started. It's great to be really good at one thing, but it's even better to be great at that one thing and also pretty good and a few others too. Your talents and portfolio should have a well-rounded depth, ideally.
2. Non-profit/working for free can be a great way to get started and get a portfolio some depth but just be aware of the difference between contributing a sensible about of work & time versus letting yourself be exploited and taken advantage of.
3. Learn more than just Photoshop. Life drawing, photography, painting, anything by hand. Do it if you aren't already. It will help you in the long run in all you do.
4. Find inspiration outside the internet - start by spending a few hours in a bookstore.
5. Don't be shy about what you do. If you're ready to put it out there for the world to see, be ready to come off confident and determined.
6. Writeoffs/taxes. Save all your receipts!!!
7. Invest in quality technology/equipment. If you need a better/faster computer, figure out what you need to do to make that happen and do it. You can write it off and it's the primary thing you're using to make your work.
8. Just ask. People on design sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc., are willing to help, you just need to humble yourself when it's time to ask for advice. Everyone had to do it at some point with someone.
9. Don't be annoying. Writing an email to someone you look up to is fine, but remember people are busy. Give it a few days before you follow up or, if its a potential new client, before you call to ask if they got it. They probably did. Patience is key.
10. Make sure you're having fun.