Kieran is an extremely talented graphic designer from Calgary, AB. He is creative, driven, talented and Calgary is lucky to have him.
Some of his talents are: Web development, Graphic Design, Branding, Campaign Development, Social Media Integration and Management.
Tell us a little bit about you?
Well, What you see is what you get, for the most part. I do many things, and am always trying to find something new. I live for Art, Music, Experience, and Learning. All a result of having pretty severe ADHD; I can never stay focused on one thing for too long. I spend my days working on my online projects mostly, but also find time to get into the branding, and illustration projects I take on the side. I also produce music. Was just a hobbie until recently, my friend Mark and I started a little project, which hopefully gains some hype! As for spare time; It’s really more like Sparse time, as I rarely get it. But you’ll find me at all the Supreme Hustle’s Bass music shows for sure!
Where do you consider home?
I’d definitely consider Calgary to be my home. I have been here 90% of my life, and although it’s an easy city to hate, I still find myself loving it mores than not. We have to much going on here to ignore. A developing arts scene, one of the best music scenes in Canada, and some of the most talented people I have ever met in all things. As they say, “Home is where the heart is”.
Where is your ideal dream home?
It’s funny actually, I have several dream home’s all picked out. The most expensive being an ocean front designer home in Miami for $38 Million (more for the house, it could be on any ocean). I also love architecture. But Ideally, one of those really modern, super square houses. With lot’s of dark granite, glass, and stainless steel everywhere. Floating staircase, loft, and massive wine cellar. Also, a penthouse condo downtown, because I rented one for a year, and became addicted to the view.
Before we begin the interview, how is your current state of mind today?
Well, I have been quite busy lately. Not a lot of sleep. To much red bull… So pretty damn good, I’d say!
Usually an interesting question is the Education one. Did you attend school for Graphic Design?
Originally, no. And even now, I wouldn’t consider my certificate to be an ‘Education’ in design, as I didn’t learn much, it was more just studying for Adobe’s ACE’s, as they were thorough in their exam. Basically everything I know was just from opening it up and slowly figuring out the tools. I obviously took tutorials on certain things I wanted to recreate, but no formal education. Someone early on said “Master the pen tool”… Something like that.
How long have you been a geek?
Too long. But I’m more of just an art geek… And a music geek.
How long have you been a graphic/web designer? What is your favorite type of design?
Well, I started playing with Photoshop in grade 7… Does that count? Officially, my first freelance client was in grade 10, and I have been going ever since. So I guess about 6 years; Web for 2.
My favorite type of design would definitely be vector illustration. Absolutely amazing what you can do with it. Second to that, Architectural design. I can’t do it, but it’s awesome.
What or who got you started in design?
When I was growing up, we lived downtown. Long story short, I always loved all the street art I would see everywhere, and started out doing that. I got really into it; Spray painting taught me most of what I know about color combinations. It also encouraged me to study typography on my own. When I was 15 one of my older friends I met through street art, was really into making digital graffiti with Illustrator and 3D programs. It was this that got me into it. Haven’t stopped since.
How would you describe your style?
I’ve always felt that is an impossible question to answer accurately. Because my style is constantly changing. From the things I draw inspiration from, to the ‘Let’s try this differently’ I encounter on a daily basis. Ultimately, It depends on what it’s for. I kind of have this dark-graffiti-tattoo-occult style for my illustration work, if I were to put several labels on it.
How many designs do you think you average per year? A guess is ok.
I’d say a few hundred at least. You can do a lot in a year.
Do you have a few pieces you can share with us?
What is your current gear setup?
Macbook Pro, Wacom Intuos5 Medium tablet, Canon 7D DSLR, And a plethora of sketchbooks and Copic multiliner SP pens.
What is your favorite design accessory?
Probably the Pantone colour fans. They are a visual bible of sorts for me.
What is your favorite software and why?
Adobe Creative Suite (currently using CS6).
What is your favorite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?
Probably my Wacom. Because scanners suck, Tracing sucks, and precision is key.
How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I guess it depends largely on the project. For things like album art, posters, or any other piece thats primary goal is to be visually appealing; It would be very important in those instances. But personally, I don’t use it much for web stuff, I’ve found illustrator to be more then adequate for that, as we work largely in HTML5 and CSS3, we don’t require a lot of photoshop finishing to the graphics.
Are you a Mac or PC lover?
Apple all day. Used to love PC, but then Vista happened. Also, a failed windows HDD cost me several clients once. Ever since, Apple all the way. Also, since owning one, Apples OS has increased my workflow ten fold.
Do you plan on buying any new equipment in the near future and if so what do you have your eyes set on?
Hmm… I am for sure buying a new iMac soon, because those new retina 27 inch ones are too sexy to pass up. Also, I really want a Pantone Capsure, as the ability to pull accurate Pantone’s off of any printed sample, material, surface, etc. Is highly inviting. I also want to get some more music production gear.
Your work really inspires myself and many others to pursue design in a wider degree. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?
I would have to say that I draw inspiration from almost anything. Be it the art, advertising, etc that exists in the world around me, or getting inspirations from things I see while walking. Such as architecture, even reflections on a window… The world is endless in it’s ability to provide inspiration. One just needs to find what sparks their mind the most!
What has been your most memorable or favorite project and why?
That is an extremely tough question. I would probably have to say Mark Instinct’s Gear Head Skull I did in early 2012 (featured in this article). It is my favorite and most memorable for several reason. Mainly, because it was the piece that actually launched my illustration career. It also broke my name out into the Bass music industry. but most importantly, I really pushed my abilities whilst making it, literally teaching myself some new techniques on the fly. I also went from master, to beast mode on my pen tool skill because of it, haha.
Is there a designer you would love work with?
Many. But if I were to pick a few off the top of my head, I would say Matei Apostolescu for illustration, Alexander Wells for editorial illustration, and Adrian Knopik for just about anything.
What is your most favorite design you have done recently? Can you tell us a bit about how the composition came to life and what the design means to you?
My favorite recent design would have to be the mask one I am working on currently (featured at the top of this article).
It all came together when I was looking on a stock image site for a good picture of a deer to use for a Christmas themed piece I was doing, when this one photo of a girl holding a deer skull above her head popped up. I was inspired to do something similar, as another complex illustration project (since I haven’t done a complex project since Mark’s skull, in terms of art). To me, the image represents how we all change, and though we existed in a previous state, said state can be ‘removed’ from the self, if you will; In order to grow and continue in life. Also a metaphor for not dwelling on the past. The roots behind the idea are personal.
Do you have a website and/or blog you visit often? How about forums?
I do, I am on Behance.net a lot, amazing creative network. I also frequent Dribbble.com, and the awwwards.com.
As for blogs, I don’t generally have enough time with my work, and the many music blogs I keep up with. Behance serves good enough when I want to look at anything creative and amazing.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about design?
Another tough question. And the best I can do is give you three answers, that I find equally challenging.
One, Time management. Maybe I am just too scatter-brained, but this has never gotten easier for me.
Two, Conceptualization. Sometimes, some clients only have a very very vague idea of what they want, some times so much so that they limit your creative input, but make it difficult to come up with a solid concept for them. It’s rare, but it happens…and finally, Overly indecisive clients.
What do you think of the current state of the design industry and where do you see it in 5 years from now?
Oh man. I’d say it’s in a state of extreme over-saturation at the moment. Everyone on the planet wants to freshen up their look, and that is great. But the design industry, being what it is, it is easy for uneducated people to get good jobs doing it, if they are truly good. But then there is thousands of basement designers that only know basic Photoshop, and think that it is the only thing used to design any and all kind of design. 5 years from now? I think that it will be one of the strongest industries in the world. Especially now that Social media is in full swing, we are all so connected, an artists name can now reach the opposite side of the globe in a matter of seconds, so it is very exciting.
Name the first designer that comes to your mind and why?
Again, Adrian Knopik. Because the sheer amount of skill this individual possesses is astounding. One of my biggest inspirations for digital art.
The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?
The Introduction to Digital Sound Design Certificate, being taken online through Berklee College of Music, and because I also have a music side project, and I really want to fully understand what it is I am doing in that aspect.
What design organizations do you belong to?
Just the Anvil Awards. It’s like the grammy’s for Advertising and Design.
Do you advertise in magazines?
Not for myself personally. I don’t advertise at all, actually. Don’t really need to.
If I wasn’t a designer and photographer, I would have loved to have been a writer or a film director/cinematographer. What would you have been?
I definitely would’ve been an architect. Still might consider it at one point. It is one subject I can never seem to shake interest in.
Is there anything you would have done differently during your design career?
Many, many things. Probably focus on illustration earlier on, rather then later.
Is there a particular person in your life that you could say has taught you the most out of anyone you know?
I think in terms of design, I’m pretty well fully self taught. But I would have to give credit to my father, Jessie, for being the amazing artist he is, and originally teaching me to draw when I was a kid. Without growing up around such artistic people, I highly doubt I would’ve turned out this way.
What talent would you most like to have other than design?
I think I would like to have the talent to write. Never been that good at it.
What are you currently learning/working on?
To many things to even try and think of, haha. Every day is constant learning!
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Music, without question.
What is your greatest fear?
Becoming blind or deaf.
Your favorite film / movie / tv series of all time?
I have a few: Pulp Fiction, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Mr. Nobody, and Cloud Atlas.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would build a shelter for Homeless youth, as I went through it when I was younger, and cities really need to put more effort into them. I would then drop a few million into cancer research, a few more into kidney research. Then I would buy me and my family all houses, and travel the world.
What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?
Sitting inside my future office, at my future super successful downtown design studio. I would also like to teach design/ visual communications at some point.
And the last question, if you had one wish…
I wish everyone would find as much joy in what they do as I do. Because to many people settle for less, and I much prefer happy people.
Blog: On agencyonmars