D.J. is a designer and expert illustrator who’s creativity runs rampant through the Santa Barbara sea breeze. Textures, transparency, and simple color palettes help bring his works to life with a fine designer’s touch all the while conserving the rawness from his sketches.
Interviewed by Kenji B.
November 25th, 2017
How long have you lived in SB/has it had an impact on your design aesthetic?
Aside from leaving for college for a few years, I have lived in Santa Barbara for my whole life and am currently living here. I never grew up plugged into the creative community here until recently, but what has really impacted my design aesthetic has probably been the simple, easy-going lifestyle that Santa Barbara has. There is a lot of amazing history and character that this city has, outside of the places that visitors typically look to. Unfortunately outside continue to develop this city without understanding or appreciating any that history. For me though, I gain inspiration from this place and where its come from, whether or not it directly or indirectly shows in my work.
You we’re working in a firm not too long ago, are you doing mostly freelance work now? How do you like that?
I spent time at a design and innovation agency working on some projects with pretty well known clients, then was working in-house with the brand design team at Teva. I am now currently full-time freelance as of a month or so ago. Its absolutely terrifying and exciting at the same time. I think I’ve had this natural hunger to be my own boss for awhile. It’s already been a crazy rollercoaster so far, but have been blessed with great opportunities and am always thankful for what God does. I also don’t mind being able to cut out and surf for a few hours when I want. Thats pretty nice.
Have you always had a knack for drawing things? Are there other artists in your family?
I’ve always loved drawing and painting. My dad loves sports, so growing up I played football thinking I’d like it, turns out I hate and suck at sports, and just wanted to go home and draw instead of be at football practice. When I got into high school I took an architecture class thinking I want to do that, then realized I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life. So from there I started to really pursue art and consider it as a future for me. I’m basically the only artist/designer in my family, and am stoked to be making a career out of
When did you recognize the relationship between art and design? How did it change your work?
When I learned early on that I could take my drawings and make them vectors is when the line started to blur. Thats basically where it started. There are so many designers I admire who are also artists, and they tend to blur that line of artist and designer. I think when you can blur that line, is when you begin to create really innovative work. You’re not limited by the characteristics that are held only to one or the other, but you can create freely without limitations or preconceived ideas of “this is how artists think” or “this is how designers think”. Your open to do whatever and be inspired by whatever! It’s pretty sweet.
What is your process in choosing your color palettes?
I mostly used washed out colors. I tend to never use more than 2-3 colors; I love trying to bring the most detail into something, with the simplest color palette. Its difficult at times, but it ends up feeling really unified and rewarding to me.
Is there an artist whose work you’re really stoked about at the moment?
This guy has been doing it for awhile, but I really enjoy Cody Hudson’s work. He’s really talented both as a designer and artist, and serves as a huge inspiration.
Whose music would you pair with your work?
I’m not sure if I could zone in on a specific artist/band that pairs well with my music, but more often than not, I am usually designing/creating with A Tribe Called Quest or Allah-Las playing in the background. So I’d say my work reflects a mix of those two.
What would you order at a Mexican restaurant if you were at one right now?
The go-to would be an al pastor burrito and a topo chico.
Short list of things in your backpack:
Big sketchbook, small sketchbook, tracing paper, laptop, charger, pens/pencils, headphones, and a hard-drive. Those things are always in my backpack on any given day.
Any new exciting projects coming up?
I have a solo art show coming up mid-december, along with a group show I’ll be in that month too. Besides that, I have some opportunities to do some design work with some awesome new clients that are still under wraps. Keeping my head down trying to crank out new work in the mean time!