First up – who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Blake Kathryn, a freckled designer in Los Angeles by way of New York and Florida. My work is primarily focused in illustration and minimal motion graphics, spanning both the 2D and 3D realms. My biggest passions are pastels, neons, futurism, and minimalism which I try to integrate into as many things I touch as possible.
Early on, what drew you into design – and what steps did you take in pursuing it with a full time focus?
I went into college believing I wanted to study advertising, upon chatting with a counselor prior to kicking off my first semester I was re-routed into design as I wanted to be more hands on in the field.
After graduating with a degree in graphic design, I migrated up to New York to pursue a fierce career kick off and quickly fell into the illustration-focused realms of design. With a lucky opportunity to move to Los Angeles, I seized the moment and kicked off my freelance career then (about two years and some change out of university).
You work independently, creating work and content for a wide range of clients. How did you begin working independently and why do you do it over working in an agency or in-house position?
A big reason for me leaving New York was to be in a slightly more affordable city to take the risk of going freelance. I had been contracting full-time at a tech company prior to, and an in-house junior Art Director before that. I had moonlighted during those times developing a small client base, and diversifying my portfolio which made the jump much more comforting. I work best when juggling different projects, however don't operate too well under stress – so freelancing has been an absolute dreamy career move.
With tech being so integrated into everyone's work flow nowadays I don't get that 'lonely' feeling a lot of folks go through with being independent. I regularly have in-person and video meetings and am happily rotating between multiple Slack channels of colleagues, collaborators, and friends. I'm sure that's a big factor as to why I'm still happily living the lifestyle several years later!
What inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing?
The possibilities, programs, and inspiration seems to expand at such a rapid pace it's impossible to not keep learning and trying fresh experiments. Growing up in awe of cgi, anime, sci-fi being able to contribute aesthetically to the increasingly tech-centric world leaves a lasting warm and fuzzy feeling every time a piece is finalized.
What's your daily schedule like?
I usually work EST to PST hours, which would be aggressive if I didn't take so many breaks. I generally wake up around 7am, enjoying a coffee and morning read before diving into work around 7:30am. My partner walks to work when the weather's nice so around 9:30am I accompany him to get a nice couple miles in. Upon getting back it's work, play, work until about 6pm where I wrap up the day queuing a long render. The rest of the evening is either social outings or cozying up to a book or movie. I absolutely love dreaming and aim for about 8 hours of sleep every night.
If you had a chance to work with any company, with any budget, to create anything you'd like – what would it be?
I really enjoyed Donald Glover's Pharos event last year, an immersive overnight festival in Joshua Tree. He debuted his newest album "Awaken, My Love!" during the twilight hours in a VR dome and it was absolutely surreal. To be able to contribute or fully create such an experiential and multi-sensory event became my number one bucket list item since ~ funky companies get at me ;)
With the growth of Virtual and Augmented Reality – a lot of designers with more traditional backgrounds are taking the leap into 3D. What pushed you to explore this industry and what advice do you have for aspiring 3D designers and artists?
The big thing with the 3D realm and why I assume so many are pursuing it further is that it can be used in such a variety of ways – print, digital, experiential, motion graphics, even mocking up portfolio photos vs doing a photo shoot. For those diving into it now I'd say make sure you really take the time to learn the odds and ends of your respective program, it's really easy to just learn how to do a few basics and become content. When it's a fresh medium try to really push your technical abilities and it'll totally evolve your aesthetic as well. Regarding VR/AR dive in as soon as you're able to! It's in the wild west right now which is the most exciting time to join a movement.
Technology is constantly changing everything. Are there any advances in the design and creativity fields that you can foresee happening in the future? What most excites you about the potential of these changes?
My partner and I were just chatting the other day how we feel VR is a somewhat niche realm like 3D movies, and that AR is really where the industry is going to go in the future. I definitely feel that better integrating these industries into software/accessible platforms will help to carve out these paths and how they'll actually evolve.
On a larger scale, it seems that being fully immersed outside of a hand-held device is becoming more of a priority in the creative realm. Whether it be a festival, show, gallery there's an ever-growing push to bring people physically together for these experiences while delivering the expectations we've built from living vicariously online. That is something I'm incredibly into and hope to be able to contribute to.