Dan Brandon’s creative journey started with a job in a skateboard shop that was no less than an art gallery. From there to now as a professional graphic designer, illustrator, and artist, one thing hasn’t changed, the passion that fuels his creations.
Dan Brandon is a freelance graphic designer, illustrator, and artist based out of Burlington, Ontario, with over 12 years of experience in the design industry. His passion and inspiration for design are fuelled by his love for skateboarding, snowboarding, music, and a considerable amount of coffee. He graduated from The Graphic Design Diploma Program at Georgian College in Barrie Ontario and brings his unique, one-of-a-kind style to everything he does.
How did you first get into art and what encouraged you to chase art as a career?
Dan Brandon: Growing up, I loved skating and comic books. Little did I know that I was practicing for my future profession by making superhero portraits and skateboard magazine logos from scratch.
How would you describe your approach to design?
Dan Brandon: I have always been such a visual person. I adore telling stories through my artwork.
Your work includes a lot of unique characters, what is your inspiration for them?
Dan Brandon: My background in skateboarding influences everything I do. I worked in a skateboard shop when I was younger and it was like working in an art gallery. Between the boards, artwork covered the walls, and there was apparel art and design everywhere.
As a trained artist, could you talk about some specific techniques and insights you acquired through a formal education in art that contributed to the artist you are today?
Dan: If I learned anything from my education, it was to be organized. It gave me the resources I need to systematically plan, organize, and carry out my ideas. Additionally, I am a tremendous nerd when it comes to filing organization.
What would you say is your strongest skill and how have you honed that skill over the years?
Dan: My strongest suit, in my opinion, is an illustration, and I continuously strive to modify and adjust my approach to fit the needs of the company or client I’m working with.
As a freelancer, you must have worked with a myriad of different kinds of projects, what type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most?
Dan: I love being a freelance designer and perpetually working on different things! I’m always up to the challenge. But there is something addictive about creating tangible items like a product or package that you can hold in your hands
You have worked both in the corporate world as well as for freelance clients, how different or similar is your approach when working on either?
Dan Brandon: I always take the same approach, regardless of how big or small the company is— it’s always about the people. My relationship with all of my clients is always as meaningful as the success of the final product.
What are your thoughts on specialization vs generalization in graphic design?
Dan Brandon: You always have to come correct? There is a lot of noise out there and would you rather show up to the party in a tailored suit or something off the discount rack? Artwork that is specifically tailored to your business’s requirements will always speak to your audience and lead to greater success than the generic discount rack.
How do you think online design resources have influenced the graphic design being produced today?
Dan Brandon: Things are moving fast and we have come a long way in a short period. I love how many resources there are online but I admit that I occasionally hesitate to use them. Nothing beats a pen & paper or opening a book to do research or get inspired. I’m a sucker for the digital age but I always want to keep one foot on the ground and remain slightly analog.
What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeated to others?
Dan Brandon: Wise words from my father “kill ’em with kindness” was once something that echoed through my head but now it’s just something I live by.