Featured Graphic Designer

Daniel Brokstad

July 2019

Somewhere in between Norway and New York City, we caught up with graphic designer, illustrator, and typographer Daniel Brokstad. He chatted to us about the importance of staying active and flexible with Design, filled us in on his own devilish side project, and spoke about where he sees the industry heading over the next 5 years. We also spoke about his first graphic design gig, building his network, and how combining work and travel is working for him.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

When I was really young I would paint quite a lot, however, I didn’t have much of a barrier of when to stop. Holding the brush in my fist, applying layer after layer with watercolor paint until it became an unrecognisable muddy mess. Eventually, the paper would break and crumble in at the middle from getting too soaked, and me squeezing the brush into the paper at full force.

My parents hung these paintings up on our fridge, and all of them were just muddy messes with a big hole in the middle. They were convinced I had no creative talent.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I started studying in Stavanger, Norway but later moved to Melbourne, Australia where I took the last 2 years of my bachelor at RMIT University. I graduated there and moved back to Norway. My very first job was working as a freelance designer in an advertising agency. I basically had my desk, got free lunch and was free to do my own projects for the most time – and sometimes doing freelance for the agency.

While I didn’t make too much money through the projects I got from the agency, it got my foot in the door and I got many contacts through this job. And through these contacts, I got more freelance jobs. I was there for about 7 months before I landed my first full-time position as a graphic designer. After about 3 years in Norway, I packed my bag and went traveling the world while working as a freelancer.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I work as a senior designer and just wrapped up my contract at Sagmeister & Walsh, where I’ve been for the last three and a half years. I had many fun projects there and was very happy being able to work while traveling – even when I had this full-time position.

My main focus is branding, typography, and illustration. I currently work as a freelancer while figuring out exactly what to do next — either finding a new studio or continuing by myself.

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As a designer you have to learn that things change rapidly, and that you shouldn’t just settle for one thing and stop there.

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Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

While I’ve designed several fonts for projects and clients, I recently released my very first commercial font, Lucifer Sans. It’s a modern sans serif font rooted in Scandinavian geometry and minimalism, mixed with a healthy dose of black metal and irreverent attitude. I started working on this font as a side project in 2017 and I’m very happy finally have it out.

The font features a diverse cast of letters, which includes three different stylistic sets that drastically changes up the look to become either more swirly or hard geometric, making it a very versatile font. It also spans nine weights and widths across a total of 162 Font Styles. A free trial is available here.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

It might be a bit dry and boring advice, but I truly believe “there are no shortcuts”. Work hard, be passionate in your craft, and it will show! People will take notice. It might not happen overnight, but being consistently dedicated to design will pay off in the end.

I would also encourage students to keep this spark for design burning with personal projects, collaborations and attending design events. Some design graduates only apply for jobs, but don’t continue working with design, slowly distancing themselves from design in the application process. They stop progressing. And in the worst-case scenario they eventually just give up on being a designer if they didn’t land a job within the first few months.

If you continue to work hard on personal projects, it might be these new projects that land you a job, not just your student work. Keeping an active design presence on social media also helps the employer see you’re dedicated and pushing forward.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

Design is becoming more and more digital, and even within that space, I think Design will explore new interaction points with its audience — with more focus on making the audience take part and engage with the brand instead of a one way street of communication.

Because design is so ever-changing, the best way to look forward to the future is to simply keep this in mind and be flexible to adapt as the industry changes. As a designer, you have to learn that things change rapidly and that you shouldn’t just settle for one thing and stop there. Keep exploring and keep adapting to this ever-changing industry.

Website: danielbrokstad.com

Instagram: @danielbrokstad

Twitter: @danielbrokstad

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