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Allan Lorde is an illustrator and designer based out of Winnipeg (the early stomping grounds of Neil Young and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper). He's a recent grad of the Red River College Graphic Design Program and is the layout editor for Lögberg-Heimskringla, an Icelandic community newspaper. Yes, he's black. When he's not helping put that paper to bed (he likes that term a whole lot), he can be found hanging out digitally at gigposters.com, partaking in Illustration Friday's latest theme, or dreaming of Japan.
When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
This is gonna sound funny, but I finally figured out that I wanted to do be an illustrator and designer once I flunked out of the RRC program for the second time. I always knew that I had to be involved in some sort of creative field, be it in television, animation, cartooning...whatever. As a kid, I wanted to be an animator (I still have my copy of Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life somewhere). I got distracted by my pro wrestling obsession in '85 and didn't draw as
much. Fast forward to post-secondary education: I took Radio Broadcasting at Robertson College. My career didn't pan out. I knew my man Jeope had just finished taking the RRC program and I decided to take a shot at it, because I knew I could draw. I was in over my head, so I flunked out in the first term. I came back, but my horrific time management skills and lack of attention to craftsmanship killed me. I acquired the habit of reading Print, Juxtapoz, Communication Arts, etc. after flunking out the first time and that's where I refined my goals. Seeing the work of guys like Art Chantry, Reid Miles, Milton Glaser and Jay Ryan inspired me to keep going.
Who or what inspires you?
The list of names is endless, man. Including the previously mentioned folks, I can throw Rubens, Dan DeCarlo, Rockin' Jelly Bean, Jaime Hernandez, Frank Kozik and several others in there. But that's just like the illustration/comix/fine arts side of things. Aesthetic Apparatus, Heads of State, Patent Pending, James Victore, and Graphic Havoc are some of my design faves. Basically, anything by anyone GOOD is an inspiration to me. That and the female form, which is truly
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/ Art School?
The fore-mentioned Red River College Graphic Design Program. It's currently a two year course with an optional third. It took me five years to get it done, but I know I'm not the only one that did it that way, and I wouldn't change a thing. Taking the third year gave me a chance to explore different creative avenues and gave me more confidence to tackle the outside world. My education was augmented by checking out gigposters.com regularly. A number of creative people I admire hang out there, and the advice flows pretty free and easy. They taught me things I couldn't learn in school. It's a little tough for newbies to jump in there, but I recommend hangin' in there and earning your stripes.
How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
I'm no vet, but in my opinion, the key to staying fresh is knowing the background of your industry. How are you gonna know where you're going, if you don't know where you've been? It's not really about staying fresh either, it's about being timeless. Okay, it's actually a little of both I guess.
What are some of your current projects?
Well, like a lot of folks just getting their feet wet in the industry, I'm doing an assortment of freelance for little or no pay in addition to the layout day job. I hope to change that soon.
I'm part of an art show called This Side Up, will be opening up next summer in North Carolina. Me and 55 other folks hooked up through gigposters.com to do this project which has us all doing
paintings/drawings/whatever on corrugated cardboard. A book is going to be part of this project, which I'm really stoked about. I also have a thing called "Pardon My French" coming up in the next edition of Successtories, a Minneapolis-based zine/comic. It's a number of illustrations accompanied by mangled French sentences. Next year, I should be involved in the revised edition of the Panda Meat sourcebook, which is curated by Frank Kozik. I'm REALLY stoked about that. I gotta come up with something incredibly hot for it...there's a ton of talented people involved in this thing.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
Right now, the logo I came up with for the Best of Friends gift shop, which is a revision of the Friends of the Library logo I created with has me beaming right now. The Friends of the Library logo was a school project, out of which my design was chosen for the organization. I was later approached to change it up a little for the gift shop which is part of the refurbished Millennium Library in downtown Winnipeg. They have it plastered rather large on the side of the store, so I can't help but feel a touch of pride. It's freakin' huge!
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
The amount of animation-based weblogs has me interested in animation again. It'd be cool to do work like Monkmus, whose "Year of the Rat" video for Badly Drawn Boy is both funny and inspirational. I wouldn't mind being a character designer like Peter De Sève...but that guy is artistically inhuman. I really want to learn how to paint. Glenn Barr and William Wray are my faves. If I had a tenth of their painting talent, I would consider myself one dope painter. I might take some classes or something. You never stop learning.
Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
I dunno...you got any? I'm kinda wearing the novice hat at the moment myself. I can only recommend getting yourself a shot of sticktoitiveness. Stay focused n' whatnot. And draw every damn day! I can't stress that one enough.
I gotta take my own advice.
What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
Clear and concise communication. The result can work if it's complicated, and that's cool if it is, but if it's a mess and the viewer doesn't get it, you done f**ked up. Back to the drawing board.
Hey, nobody's perfect though. Folks as dope as Chip Kidd and Chris Ware will admit to screwing up on occasion.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
Turning the TV off, which has only served to feed my web addiction. When I can pry myself away from the 20" iMac, I throw some tunes on and just kick my ass to get something done, because I don't like to let people down. That's the worst feeling in the world. That's my
motivation. Avoiding burn-out is done by temporarily walking away...just plain doing something else for a while. You have to. The human brain can take only so much, y'know? Additional motivation: to paraphrase Jay Ryan quite heavily, there's no such thing as mechanic's block, so writer's or artist's block is a demon that keeps you from doing what you do. Creativity is your
job...put SOMETHING down on that paper.
And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
I was a true TV junkie until a few years ago. I think the web has taken it's place, so my intake has decreased. So to answer your question, I try to never miss Law and Order: Criminal Intent. It's like a way grittier Columbo.
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