Darren Oorloff is a designer and art director from Melbourne, specialising in album covers and art for music. He works with both smaller independent artists, and major labels. I love his work, because it has a strong digital focus that incorporates several different new styles - like glitch art, without looking vapid or being used merely to follow a trend. His work is solid and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Apart from other art and design, what directly inspires your work and your design style?
My primary design rule is to juxtapose something stark and geometric with something organic - I pull a lot of inspiration from the interactions between architecture and nature. Another thing I’ve been intrigued by lately is glitch art, theres something interesting about the process of disorganising data (calculated and precise) to create something organic and unpredictable.
I think a design is successful if the subject matter is recognised as part of our everyday reality but with a twist that puts it just out of reach, usually utilising colours that may not typically exist in nature.
What’s the one thing that has helped you get to where you are today?
From day one I’ve made a habit a of saying ‘yes’ to every job, and however weird, or out of my field I’ve always put in 100%. Initially I was doing this to get established and make more money, but as I went along I realised that being good to every client often led to recommendations to more relevant clients. A particular example in my case started with promo for bars, which’ve led to nightclubs, which’ve led to festivals, finally leading to major labels.
What inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing?
The music industry is a really interesting field and I’m in a fabulous position. There’s no pressure from my side on whether a release will be successful or not, but get to reap the benefits if it does. I get sent unreleased tracks and early demos all the time and its cool to see (as an outsider) the intricacies of how the industry works and the science behind who makes it and who doesn’t. At the end of the day I’m just hanging out for a Peter Saville’s - Joy Division artwork moment.
A large amount of your work is for music artists. How has music played a part in your work, and how did you break into this section of the industry?
I never thought I’d end up doing anything related to music or even art in this form. In school and uni I was super into ‘graphic design’ I don’t think corporate design was ever going to be my thing but I loved branding, typography, grids and publication.
A couple of years ago an artist from London, Samuel Johnson moved into a studio I was working in at the time. He was getting pretty established in the music scene and was pretty down for my identity stuff, so he got me on board making logo concepts for artists so he could focus on the art itself. From there I started taking on some of the smaller clients that Sam didn’t have time to manage and ended up really getting into the art side of things.
I’ve always loved music and have attempted to learn multiple instruments without success - perhaps my shortcomings in making music have led me to design for it. Guess you can’t win em all haha!
What advice would you give to your 15 year old self if you could travel back in time?
Buy stocks in apple… hahaha. Seriously though, start learning a 3D program and/or web coding now while your mind is still absorbent - it will be very helpful in your future. Also make sure you cherish every minute of your free time.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now – what else would you like to be doing?
I really love food, my dad is a chef so thats probably why. I’ve recently gotten into these Vietnamese baguettes called Banh Mi. If I wasn’t designing without a doubt I would make a real steezy food truck, and drive around doing all sorts of Banh Mi fusions. You just know that would go off at festivals and things like that.
No matter how small or insignificant, what is one thing you’ve done this week that has made you happy?
If I can get a moment to go out for skate these days thats probably when I’m the happiest. I’m cooped up behind a computer for so many hours and by the end of the day I’ve put all of my creative energy into my work, which doesn’t leave room for much else. I feel like having a skate for an hour or two just realigns my chi and just gives me a little refill of creativity/good energy.
What are your plans for the next few years?
Where do I start! Make a music video! That’s end goal for me. I want to art direct a music video for a rapper (Travis Scott if you see this hmu.) On a less ambitious note I’m probably going to try and hook up with an agent next year to handle the administration side of things. I love freelance for the flexible hours and being my own boss but being organised doesn’t come naturally to me, it’s something I’m very conscious of and have to write extensive lists to stay on top everything. I’ve got a new website coming in a couple of months with heaps of new unreleased work I’ve been hoarding for it - keep your eyes peeled. I’d also love to eventually do a solo exhibition - having made a career from collaboration, I haven’t had a minute to do my own thing. But yeah music video is priority for sure!