Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.My name is Drew Flaherty. I’m a freelance artist/designer/developer currently based Brisbane, Australia. Put simply, I just love to make stuff. I’m always looking to broaden my creative scope and will try my hand at anything. However my main areas of work have previously been in direction, illustration, motion, print and web design.
Why did you decided to become a graphic designer? What inspired you? Do you think you will have a big future in it?I'm not very far into my professional career as of right now, however recently I've been making some big leaps head first into the visual communications industry.I've always had an interest for anything creative though my passion for design and the digital arts really took off around the time I was 15.Back then everything was fresh and you could find new inspiration anywhere you turned. I remember my first big inspirations came after visiting a few sites like Chapter3, Idiocase and Nginco and wondering how on earth they made images like that. For me when I become intrigued by a subject I find it hard to sit by passively. My curiosity will usually get the better of me and I seek out ways to understand whatever it is that has my attention. I began experimenting with programs like Bryce 3d and Photoshop making digital artwork now sometimes referred to as "oldschool abstract".As time went on my source of inspiration grew and I began to expand my skills and experience over a range of different applications, disciplines and styles.I was accepted into an online artist community called Depthcore (www.depthcore.com) which I firmly believe helped me develop and sharpen my skills as an artist and prepared me for a career in design.Out of high school I completed a short course in multimedia then with a friend started up a design business in the lounge room of his house.The business never really took off but the experience and practical lessons it taught me were very valuable in my growth as a designer.The beginning of this year I decided to go freelance and launched my personal portfolio in March. The response and feedback I received from the site was overwhelmingand took me completely by surprise. Things have only now just started to settle down and I’m trying to push myself into a routine to get through all the work I have lined up.This is only the beginning for me and I'm very much looking forward to what the future has in store.
Can you describe your style of design? What it's about, where it comes from and how it's inspired?I thought about this question for a very long and feel slightly embarrassed that I can't give you a straight answer.Usually I prefer if people view my works for themselves without any preconceptions and find their own meanings.I could easily tell you everything I dislike about them, but understanding the meaning and where it comes from is not a simple thing. Of course it’s subjective to the public but personally for me each piece holds a different emotion frozen in a time from when the work was produced. I've been told a few times by different people that my works are shallow and meaningless and all they really are, are just trendy graphics or pretty pictures. Perhaps they don’t search for the enigmas and hidden meanings, or don't appreciate the intuitive and subconscious nature at its essence, Or perhaps they're right and my works are just a bunch of superficial pixels glued together on the screen. I don't like to analyze or deconstruct art in an extreme way but I do believe there is substance in my work.I can remember a high school art lesson during our time studying impressionism which ended with a quote from Renoir who said. "Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world."As casual and depthless as these words may sound, they struck a cord with me and I wasn't able to forget them. Even if sometimes I may not adhere to this philosophy or follow its direction, I believe that this may be at the very center of my creative ideals. I believe art should be productive and not destructive and would hope that by making my art I can make this world just a little bit more beautiful.On the complete flipside however, my commercial work is very easy to comprehend and is inspired by money, deadlines and dirty clients.
Illustration, web design, photography or motion graphics? What do you prefer and why?In the past I would generally have preferred illustration or motion projects rather than web design. This is because usually they will allow for a lot more creative expression and focus more on aesthetics and visual elements rather than function and usability. Recently however, I've been developing a number of sites in flash that are beginning to sway my opinion on the matter. With new technologies emerging on the web the possibilities and previous limitations of interactive design are rapidly expanding, leading to new horizons, which I find very exciting. I enjoy any work that really pushes the boundaries of convention and work that forces me to learn new skills and develop fresh ideas. I’m always on the lookout for fresh stimulus and can't just do the same repetitive tasks over and over. In the end I would have to say it all depends on the project itself and not the media or discipline. Weather it appeals to my creative side or captures my imagination is what's most important to me.
Please tell us a little about your offline life, how do you relax, rest?As of late there has been no such thing as my 'offline life'. Trying to catch up with the demand generated from my recent exposure has become a full time job. I’m finding myself sliding deeper into an obsessive and demanding work ethic. Working long days without a break on very little sleep. If I’m not on the computer working on a project I’m usually either asleep or lying in bed thinking about working on a project. When I get the time however I'd love to do more of my drawing, painting and metal sculpture. I also love to dabble a bit in music production. You can find some of my audio experiments on my portfolio. I’m also planning on starting a fashion label this year, but again wish I had more time. Apart from all that creative nonsense I like just hanging out with friends, going out, staying in, pretending to be invisible, winking at people, helping pigeons fall in love, smiling at strangers then touching my crotch, throwing rocks at small children, baking, having fun with scissors, wondering what pirates think about, eating lamb. All the usual things normal people like to do.
What is design for you?You sometimes hear a lot of debate over the differences between art and design or what the exact definition of 'design' means, but I think this type of argument is very trivial in any case.Design for me is the planning and process of construction that goes into everything. It's creation that is goal orientated with an ultimate objective in mind. A design is the final resting place in the journey of an idea.
From looking at your works, they're mainly noncommercial stuff. What do you do for money? Do you do web design or something?A lot of the works on my portfolio are from personal projects because I wasn't happy with any of the commercial stuff I'd been involved with before hand. Most of my previous paying work had been from local business, making relatively plain, boring websites, brochures, things like that. The main reason behind my decision to go freelance and create my portfolio was to try and break that trend and move into more exciting work. I wanted to attract interesting clients who would encourage me to produce work using all my creative resources and strength.
There is a lot of copying on the internet these days. Many people have similar styles and work. What are your thoughts on this?I’m not really that against the copying or ripping of styles like some people are. It can be a hotly debated issue but I don't see the big deal. I think it’s a part of any art culture, having people see something they like and try to imitate it. I find it very encouraging infact, if I find an artist who has been inspired by one of my works and tried to replicate the style. It’s not a new phenomenon and not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion. Its how all creative movements and trends are started from Hip-hop to Cubism. I myself must admit, have fallen victim to the 'Trendwhore' bug on occasions. Having seen an image or style I liked and tried to de-construct its techniques and composition. It can be a very helpful learning method when you first start out, just observing what others do and trying it for yourself. Having said this, it’s also very important to be original I believe. Developing your own style should be a natural progression and something that comes out instinctively.Unless you deliberately try to stomp out any individualism or personality you have in your work, I think not being at least partially original is a pretty hard thing to do.If you have problems coming up with something original you're probably thinking about it too much. Try switching off your conscious thoughts and just letting your hands do the work without worrying about the consciences on the canvas. If you still can't come up with anything then maybe you should think about switching to code :P
What is more important for you, career or your girlfriend? Why?I don't have a girlfriend so right now it’s my career. I’m sure if I did have a girlfriend though she'd be pissed at me for spending too much time on work and not enough on her. :)
Favorite designers and inspiration.Too many to mention in one go. Any good art, music, etc from any time in history really. I’ll try and mention just a few.Past painters – Klimt, Warhol, Dali, Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh, Da Vinci, that guy that painted ballerinas, Film – Kubrick, Tarantino, Miyazaki Hayao Fashion – Bape, Diesel, Tsubi Music – Everything from trance through to Hip-Hop and Classical through to Drum&Bass. not Country though. Misc – Graffiti Art, Anything new, Youth culture, Things that push boundaries, Shiny glowing things.
For some of my favorite digital artists and designers visit my del.icio.us feed.http://del.icio.us/drewflaherty
Are you happy living in Australia or do you have any plans to move? Do you have any ambitions to work fulltime in a studio in the US?Right now I’m quite content just freelancing from home. I've had a few job offers comes from the States and other countries but no solid plans on moving just yet. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities in time so I’m not trying to rush into anything. If I was forced at gun point to leave Australia, New York would probably be my first preference. I’d go just so I could be a cliché.
Well, that’s enough I guess, thanks for your interview and we wish you good luck! Also some comments from you are welcome! Thanks for the opportunity and good luck with the future also. Sorry If I ranted on a bit or if I sounded a bit pretentious. I wish good luck to everyone at everything they do for as long as they're doing it. Good fortune to all, and to all, a good night. Bonne nuit.