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Featured Studio

Artifact

April 2019

We chat with Chief Creative at Artifact, Liam Andrew, about how he brings together his love of archaeology and design; shifting from one style to another rather than being rooted in one, and how we can potentially close the experience gap within the community.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, focusing on brand strategy and visual identity. As an identity designer, I'm very interested in understanding the history of a client's brand as well as their values. A lot of the time, I really think it's best to express the essence or mood of a brand rather than to represent it literally. So these are the aspects of my practice that I tend to focus on.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

I've always been deeply fascinated by archaeology and antiquity. My creative practice revolves heavily around research, exploration, and discovery; so I wanted to link my process with archaeology in some way. I settled on the name Artifact when I saw this clear connection between archaeology and design; as artifacts represent a particular culture, practice, or people group, so does visual identity and design. As creatives, we're tasked with uncovering insights about our clients and helping them create symbols or objects that represent their specific narrative. In a way, we're all explorers; interested in understanding the past, creating for the present, and designing the future.

Who are your top five design crushes globally right now?

I have a huge appreciation for creatives that blur the line between design and illustration. Jon Contino and Aaron Draplin are masters of this and they continue to have a huge impact on my work. When it comes to print design Jason Kernevich and Dustin Summers of Heads of State are two of my favorite poster artists. I'm kinda cheating with this last pick (cause I'm rolling two designers into one) but Jen and Amy Hood, the twins of Hoodzpah, are two heroines of design and typography whose work I really admire. Links to their Instagram are down below!

Jon Contino: @joncontino

Aaron Draplin: @draplin

Heads of State: @theheadsofstate

Hoodzpah: @hoodzpahdesign

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I'm not really interested in developing a certain style that is uniquely my own anymore

"

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

Tracing back the origins of my work is a little tricky because I've drawn influence from so many things. I started by copying the drawings of my favorite comic book artists like Mike Mignola, Sean Gordon Murphy, and Ashley Wood. It was really important to me that I build a strong foundation in form and figure before experimenting with different styles. As I gained more confidence with sketching and inking, I started exploring editorial illustration, Sachin Teng and Matteo Berton being two of my favorite artists, to try and explore a new approach to creating art.

I actually haven't found my style to be quite honest. I'm not really interested in developing a certain style that is uniquely my own anymore. What I find to be more important is for me to develop a certain quality in my work that is iconic, regardless of how I draw. As I shift from one style to another, thick lines and really strong colors have been staple qualities for me through the years. The choice of theme and subject is also a big part of my work. Lately, I've been looking into a lot of medieval art, occult iconography, tattoo art, and folk art; pulling from their DNA to create a subject or narrative. I've learned that conducting visual and conceptual research before illustrating makes the job much clearer.

Whether you're interested in developing a particular style or not, my advice would be to take your time. Enjoy the process and draw nearer to subjects and themes that interest you. Take time to study your references and influences to better develop a quality that is specific to your work. Practice often!

What do you think the design community could do more to give back?

Teach! Practicing designers and illustrators have a wealth of invaluable knowledge, not just about their creative process, but about design business as well. Based on my personal experience, I do think that the quality of design education in developing countries like The Philippines is still lacking. Many people (myself included) graduate from university feeling unprepared, unskilled, or uncomfortable when handling projects or doing business compared to designers from abroad. If we as professionals could work together on developing programs and workshops for creatives of all disciplines, then it would be much easier to close the experience gap within the community, giving everyone greater opportunities to create good work.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

There are so many ways that we can evolve as creative individuals, and today all the information we need is shared freely. I would encourage younger designers to self-study in their free time. Take the initiative to learn as much as you can about your discipline by reading books, reviewing portfolios, etc. As much as marketing our work or "networking" (yeah I don't like that term either) with other people is a part of our job, so too is studying, especially if we want to improve as professionals. Along with constant practice, I think it's one of the best ways to keep a damn sharp edge!

Website: artifactstudio.co

Instagram: instagram.com/hey.artifact

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