Featured Illustrator/Animator

Design Lad

April 2019

Design Lad is a London-based 3D Illustrator & Animation Director specialising in 3D character & environment design. In 2016 he switched from graphic design to 3D Illustration, and since then has gone on to work with clients such as Sony Music, BBC, Red Bull, Adidas, Nestle, NOW TV, and Virgin. We chat with him about the best and worst parts of the job, the variety of inspiration in London — from a plethora of free Museums to wandering the streets of Shoreditch — and making time for passion projects!

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

I studied Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Arts in London. Even though I didn’t do any illustration during that period, I really learnt the importance of having a great idea which is still fundamental in everything I do now.

After graduating I worked for the BBC, designing layouts for their magazines. I then went on to freelance from my home studio on graphic design projects for the likes of Levi’s and Red Bull, which I did for three years.

In 2016 I decided to try 3D illustration as it was something I had always been interested in, and really wanted a way to create work that could showcase my ideas more. So, I started from scratch learning the software and building a portfolio again. Even though it took a long time it was the best thing I have ever done.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I am a London-based designer, illustrator, and animation director, specialising in 3D character & environment design.

My signature style is bright, bold, and playful which is always based around one simple idea.

What are some of the best and worse parts of your job, day-to-day.

The best part of my job is doing something I really love and having the freedom to create work that I am passionate about. Each day is really varied and it’s an amazing feeling when you wake up to exciting opportunities in your inbox that you never expected.

The flip side to that is dealing with working alone as a freelancer. You can feel isolated at times, and when I first started, I would often worry about when the next job would come in so I could pay my rent. As I have become more experienced, I can deal with that side of the business much better, however it was harder than expected at first.

Another side that is not so fun are tight deadlines. At university we were given a brief and a week to develop an idea. Generally, now I am given a brief and one day to develop a great idea, plus a strong visual, which can really limit your creativity.

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All of the work I have ever been commissioned for has come as a result from my own passion projects

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What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Personal projects with great ideas are so important, and the key to showing a prospective employer who you really are. All of the work I have ever been commissioned for has come as a result from my own passion projects. It is something I always try and really push and make time for, alongside doing my client work.

It is also important to realise that success will not happen overnight, and it can be a really slow journey. However, if you work on projects you really care about, and constantly challenge yourself to create something great, and better each time, then eventually people will notice you.

What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?

I am really lucky to live in such a vibrant and multicultural city like London. There is inspiration everywhere you look, from hundreds of museums (most are free) like the Tate Modern, V&A and the Design Museum. To countless galleries that host amazing exhibitions, events, and talks.

If you want to be outside, then you can just walk around an area like Shoreditch and just take in the incredible colours and designs of the street art on every corner.

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

My agent Jelly London have just expanded and set up in New York, so I am looking to do a trip over there at some point, and hopefully do some exciting projects with some US clients.

I have lots of fun projects for my Instagram that I am currently developing, and also really want to start making some of my 3D models into actual physical figures.

Website: designlad.co.uk

Instagram: @design_lad

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