When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
It seems like I've always been interested in art. I started drawing when I was a young boy growing up in a farming community in central Texas. I was also attracted to typefaces at a pretty young age, which seems strange to me now. I loved looking at old posters and advertisements printed back in the 1800s. Growing up in Texas I was naturally attracted to anything having to do with the old west and country music. Music was another hugely strong influence on my life. I have played drums for various bands over the last 26 years or so. Some of my first design"projects" were for the garage bands I was in. I would come up with the band logo and all of the promotional materials. It just seemed to happen naturally. One of my first really "professional" projects was an album cover design for ABC/Word Records in London in the mid 1970s. One of my early dreams in elementary school was being a set designer for motion pictures. Weird dream for a 9 or 10 year old, huh?
Who or what inspires you?
My wife Dawn is my biggest inspiration. Sounds corny I know, but it's true. She gave me the self confidence to go in directions artistically that I would have never done on my own. I had a terrible self esteem problem when we first got married (31 years ago!) and she has always been my biggest cheerleader. She jokingly tells people that I give her a quarter for every compliment she gives me, but she has really and truly helped to make me what I am today.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
I am completely self-taught. I have always tried to consciously make an effort to gain more and more graphic design knowledge whenever and wherever I can. After almost 30 years as a graphic artist I still sometimes feel like a second class citizen compared to someone who has gone to school to gain the experience. A traditional education wasn't meant to be for me and I entered a very long "school of hard knocks." I've worked on just about every imaginable project, LPs, CDs, logos, brochures, books, magazines, posters, websites and billboards. You name the type of project and I've probably worked on it at some point along the line.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
I continually read magazines and books on the subject of graphic design. I love logo design, so I'm always looking at logo books and at various products and their logos. Compact disc design is another favorite of mine. I can spend hours in a book or music store looking at CD covers.
What are some of your current projects?
I just finished a CD project for a new country music artist by the name of "Becca" for Nari Records out of Los Angeles. I am also doing some work for an attorney in Austin, Texas and for a ministry out of Portland,Oregon that works with disadvantaged youth.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
I have posted most of my favorite pieces on my website at http://www.hilldesignstudios.com/. I am particularly proud of my logo designs. I did a logo for a pest control company in Austin, Texas back in the 1980s that I thought came out pretty good. You can still see the logo on the side of their trucks today. It's satisfying to me to know that it is still working for them after all these years and I'm not embarrassed when I see it!
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
I have yet to learn Flash. I will learn that application soon. I am a very visual person and theFlash manuals have gotten me absolutely nowhere. I need to actually watch someone working on the software to learn I think.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Always strive to do excellent work. Learn as much as you possibly can at every opportunity. Don't be afraid to try new software or new techniques. Ask questions. Be humble.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
When I think I have arrived at a creative solution and the client agrees. There's nothing like seeing a client get really excited over something that I have come up with. I think it goes without saying that the ultimate test of success is how it performs in the marketplace.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
Sometime I get so sick of graphic design I could spit. That's when I turn to one of my hobbies to switch mental gears. I love drums. I love genealogy. I'm an avid photography buff. I collect arrowheads. Any one of these creative avenues can turn my burn-out around.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
I love the show "Lost." I get bummed whenever I miss an episode. Other than that show, I love old reruns of Andy Griffith and the Twilight Zone. It's hard to beat a good Andy Griffith episode though! I will laugh at it no matter how many times I've seen it.