I started to really fall in love with design in middle school, while I was also really getting into Myspace and music. I became obsessed with all the details that went into the layout down to the label and etchings on records. I started to notice I would buy records based off their covers, without even knowing or caring what the music sounded like. Shortly after, a rep from an art school came to speak at my high school. I was designing stuff for my band and my friend’s band at the time, but it wasn’t until then that I realized you could make a real career with design. So I started to reach out to bands and clothing companies online. I would make stuff for them in exchange for merch. Many times, my young naïve self would get fucked over, but the art was always well received and it made me better either way. I often wonder if I would still be a designer had I not grown up with Myspace. I only applied to one school, something I don’t necessarily recommend, but I knew what I wanted.
I went to school in Dayton, OH at The School of Advertising Art (SAA), now The Modern College of Design. It was a 2 year program, that was very hands on and scheduled like high school, 8am - 3pm M,W,F & 8am – 5pm T, TR. While I was in school, I worked at the mall at a shoe store called Journeys. Ironically enough, that also became my first job out of art school. So, I went from working part time at the mall, to full time as a designer for Journeys in Nashville, where I have been for almost 5 years now.
I just released 3 shirts and a tote bag to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Rock Against Racism”. RAR’s first event in 1978 was in the UK. It was the first time black and white musicians performed together on stage. It was a direct protest against the National Front who were trying to infiltrate the punk scene. The reggae and ska groups linked up with the punks and created space for unity. The designs pull reference from clothes, lyrics and posters from the gig, and convey the overall attitude of the movement. I have been researching and archiving articles and interviews for months, and it’s my favorite project. I’ve never been more excited to share something with people, and to be able to donate money to a good cause with the sales.
Another project I enjoyed was a solo art show I put together in St. Louis last year. The show focused on police brutality and the monetization of prisoners. You can view that here.
The landscape seems very sterile and safe. Most of the agencies here do work that is indiscernible from each other, but that’s what the city wants. I don’t really feel like I fit in anywhere and I’m okay with that. Sometimes that can make freelancing a bit difficult, but it also brings people to me because they want something different. I love working with musicians and companies that are on a different wave than most.
Worry less about finding your style, and just focus on making things you want to make. Build a community. It’s not cool to be an elitist like a lot of designers might make you think. Love this shit before the robots take our jobs.
Racists can’t dance, they got two left feet and no brain.
Website: zachhalfhill.com, smdh.lol