Luminous Art of Chuck Anderson

January 29, 2009, Categories: Web design, Graphics

How are you, Chuck, and what have you been up to?

Hello – I'm doing well. It's 9:15 AM right now... I'm notoriously a night owl but lately I've been enjoying trying to get to bed early and wake up early. It's kind of nice. There's this whole part of the day called ‘morning' I'm learning about. I've been busy working on a lot of different client projects lately – magazines, agencies, clothing companies. All sorts of different things, but I need to be careful I don't have another 2008 – that is, all client work and almost no personal work. So I'm going to start focusing on some personal stuff soon I think.

As a rule I start my interviews with the question about how one got into web design. In your case, I already know from your numerous interviews that you've always considered yourself an artist, since childhood, and that talent of yours flowed into a career at a certain point. So, my question is: Do you think artists are born?

I think different people are born with all different kinds of strengths, obviously. As for artists, I think many people are probably born into a family of creative thinking people, therefore they grow up in a setting that encourages that kind of passion and creativity. Some people are probably born with natural abilities more so than others and are lucky enough to not have to work as hard for things to just come naturally to them. At the end of the day, however, I think regardless of if you are born one thing or not, you only become great at it if you really want to and are willing to put your all into it.

You have no high education and no formal design education. Do you consider it unnecessary?

Well, I'd be lying if I said I thought it was necessary. I do not have any formal design education, you are right. However, I do see the value in it and think that for most people it is the best route. For me, personally, it was not something I felt interested in. My attention span is such that sitting in a classroom, doing art as 'homework', getting graded on projects – that does not appeal to me. It seems like a totally foreign way to do what you love. I don't learn that way. I learn best by just doing things myself, trial and error, watching what other people are doing, asking for advice, and so on. So no – I do not consider high eduation or formal design education necessary. However I feel that it really depends what you want to do. Some forms of art and design are much more difficult to pick up and learn on your own than others. This is really too broad of a topic to cover in one answer here, I think. People should just do what feels right for them, not what the majority would consider necessary or not.

Tell us the story behind 'NoPattern.' How did you come up with the name? Has the work you've been doing met your expectation so far? What's your resolution for 2009?

I came up with the name NoPattern in high school. I've answered this question so many times I don't even know what to say anymore, I think my answer mutates and changes slightly every time. So let's just say it was like picking a band name. I wrote a whole bunch of things down in a notebook and chiseled away at the list until one really stuck with me. Has the work I've been doing met my expectations so far…that is a good question. I don't know. I've never really known what to expect since I started. I think a lot of what I've been fortunate enough to work on has wildly exceeded my expectations. The quality of my work and the actual things I'm able to do are probably behind in my own mind. I'd like to do a lot more, I just find it hard to spread myself around enough to do more properly. All in due time though. In 2009 I'm trying to get better sleep, spend more quality time with my wife, continue being consistent with working out and exercising as well as I did it last year. Things like that trickle down to your actual work and make everything so much more enjoyable.

As an artist you have a distinctive style. 'Luminous', 'organic', 'vibrant', 'fantasy-like', 'catchy' - these are a few words people describe your work with. How would YOU describe your style?

I think all those words are fitting. Can I take a pass on this one? Describing my own work might be my least favorite interview question of all time.

In your interviews you often say that you listen to music all day while working. What have you been listening lately? Any other ways you stimulate yourself during work?

The last few weeks have been nothing but Animal Collective's new album ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion'. It really is a fun album to listen to. I will say I miss some of the screams that were on ‘Strawberry Jam', but it probably wouldn't have fit on this new one. According to iTunes, lately I've been listening to a lot of Botch, Bon Iver, Have Heart, Ceremony, At The Drive-In, Torche, Doomriders, Iron & Wine, and Kings of Leon.

You have a lot of tattoos. Did you create the design yourself? What do they symbolize? What do you have to say about tattoo design as a form of art? What does tattoo art have in common with what you do?

I did create all the designs myself except for the angels on my left arm which were taken from a classical painting. As for tattoo design as a form of art, those who do it well – I mean really do it well, I love it. For those who just do it half way and without passion, you're just spoiling the human body. Ha… I mean really. I appreciate tattoo artists incredibly though. I'm not sure what tattoo art has in common with what I do – I just really appreciate it a great deal.

What is the most rewarding and the most frustrating about being a freelancing artist?

The most rewarding things are working on my own terms, not having a boss or anybody to tell me what to do, the freedom, the flexibility in my life and schedule, and controlling anything and everything about what NoPattern is and does. The most frustrating things are clients who have bad ideas and poor art direction from the start and aren't willing to adapt or learn themselves. The other frustrating thing is keeping yourself busy with more than just client work. It's easy to let that part of it consume you and get away from doing personal projects.

In some of your previous interviews you mentioned that you wanted to be a school teacher. Are you planning to pursue the teaching career by any chance?

Absolutely not. Ha. I don't even know where I mentioned that. I probably said something about if I was doing something else, what would it be, and that I could possibly see myself being an art teacher. But in reality, no, I don't think so. I look forward to being a teacher for my own kids someday though, for sure.

How does your design process flow?

Not too sure about this one. I don't have a set design process. I don't mean to be difficult and not answer the question, but I don't have a set of guidelines I follow when I work. It all depends on the project, the client, the concepts, etc. If it's with a client, I usually get the brief, figure out the terms of the project, and start working a few days later once I've had a chance to think about the project and let ideas run through my mind for a bit.

What tools are you using? Any special software and hardware?

I work on a Mac Pro and a 30” Apple Cinema Display. I also have a 15” MacBook Pro I work on when I need to get out of the office to work or when I travel. I have a 9x12 Wacom that I use and love, and a Microsoft wireless mouse because I don't think Apple's mice are any good. I also have an Epson 3800 printer which is really an amazing piece of hardware.

What projects are you working on right now and allowed to tell about?

I just finished up a really cool project for Invisible Children. They are an organization based in California that works to better the situations in northern Uganda. I met one of it's founders, Jason Russell, in 2008 and we stayed in touch. They asked me to work on their 2008 annual report which turned out really well I think. I hired a good friend and great designer Seth Herman to help me with the layout and we just finished it up last week. It took about 2 months to totally complete. You can see it here (the top link, 2008 Annual Report).

As for what I'm working on right now, I really can't say actually… literally, I can't. I signed an NDA about this big new project, so that's #1, and #2 is at this point I don't know anything about it yet. Ha… so… keep an eye out for a big mystery project from me later this year.

I know you have a lot of influences. What are the top 5?

- Mark Romanek, a brilliant filmmaker.

- Jacob Bannon, the singer of Converge and designer/founder of the label Deathwish, Inc.

- KAWS, for various reasons, but mostly because I admire his work ethic and imagination.

- Phil Hale, an amazing painter who captured my attention when I was in high school and got me thinking about art on a more serious level than I had before.

- Cai Guo-Qiang, because he is ridiculously great.

I actually wrote a best-of 2008 list on some of my favorite artists.

What principles you follow in your work?

Do what you love to do. That's really it.

What web design-related books and online resources would you recommend to a newbie?

I get people asking me for tutorials and advice on how to create my work all the time and I just don't really ever have an answer for them. I prefer to keep what I do and how I do it to myself. The internet has made everything so easy to quickly copy and emulate, I'm not interested in putting my ideas into that system. That said, and seem to be very helpful sites to new people, I've found.

On the final note, what advice would you give to beginning artists?

If you do it first for the money and second for the love of doing it, you're screwed.


Helen Walker

imageHelen Walker
Helen Walker graduated with a degree in Mass Communications and Sociology. She worked as a newspaper journalist for two years after that. Having always been interested in cyberculture and its impact on society, Helen switched to online journalism and joined Design Interviews blog in July, 2007. Ever since she's been interviewing web designers and administrating the blog. Helen is a keen movie-goer and she is also a panda lover.

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Chuck Anderson

Chuck AndersonChuck Anderson is a freelance artist and designer. Being completely self-taught and extremely hard-working, over less than 5 years he has gained himself a reputation of one of the most demanded graphic artists. Chuck has built an impressive portfolio that includes clients from Adidas to Reebok and from Nokia to Sony. Using a combination of photography, drawing, and computers, Chuck creates vibrant, luminous, psychedelic designs full of light patterns and nature motives. Chuck has recently released his are and design book 'Wandering Off Into Space' that features his work from 2005 to 2008.
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