In-depth interviews with the world's leading creatives

In-depth interviews with the world's leading creatives

Chuck Anderson


Feature interview
no. 5 / March 2011

ColourSpaces bring you Chuck Anderson of NoPattern.  Anderson’s story seen him going from humble creative beginnings to worldwide renowned designer and artist, with career that has inspired as many people as his original signature style along with the body of work that some would be happy to achieve in the lifetime. In the last eight years, not only he has lent his helping hand to some of the biggest names in the household brands, but Chuck is also known for his charitable work with many non profit organisations. 



NoPattern is the art & design studio of Chuck Anderson. Since 2003, a year after graduating high school, Chuck has been collaborating with clients such as Microsoft, Nike, Warner Bros., Reebok, Burton, Target, and more. Chuck also produces much of his own personal art, design, & photography as well as collaborations with non-profits such as charity:water, and WordMadeFlesh, among others. More info: nopattern.com / @nopattern

You’ve just relaunched your website with new format. From the initial ideas to the live date, how long did the whole process take?

I started conceptualizing and designing for it around March/April 2010. I worked with a small but super talented young agency called Mighty - www.mightyinthemidwest.com - to develop and build the site & store. The most time-consuming part of the whole process was rephotographing all my work that I had physical pieces of. For example, any printed magazine work I photographed in addition to showing the raw art. T-shirts, snowboards, clothing, shoes…same thing. Taking inventory of 8 years worth of work and photographing it all well takes a long, long time but it was worth doing for sure.

These days everyone seems to be blogging, tweeting and connecting on Facebook?  What is your view on social media influence and its business benefits?

I think it’s great. Honestly, I could probably come up with some ways to complain about a few things with it but what’s the point? People are using it to spread the news about work they’re doing, their friends & contemporaries work, helping raise awareness and money for good causes…there are so many positive effects of artists & designers utilizing social media. I love it. I use Twitter a lot to spread news about new personal & commercial work I have going on, to give things away that I’ve done and that clients of mine have given me to give away…it’s a super engaging and immediate way to connect to people who are interested in what you’re doing. 
 

Computer Arts magazine recently named you as a Design Icon. Do you feel forefront creatives are being unnecessarily scrutinised because of their accolades? 

First off, I was extremely honored that Computer Arts chose to acknowledge me for that. It put me in some incredible company and I’m very humbled for the honor.  I don’t feel unnecessarily scrutinized because of publicity or accolades - I just think the more exposure someone gets the wider the net of reactions will be. More people know your work, greater chance a few of those people will be critical and not like what you do. That’s fine. Nobody can please everybody, we can all just do our best and have fun. Anyone with higher accolades and who has been around a while also probably understands the responsibility that comes with that and knows how to respond and handle it.

Your signature style seemed to have inspired millions of Photoshop users. However, how do you deal with people who blatantly copy your work without giving credit?

Millons!?! Try GAZILLIONS!!! Haha, I’m kidding. I would be surprised if it really has inspired literally millions of people, that seems like a stretch, but I’ll take the notion as a total compliment. As for people who blatantly copy my work without giving credit… I don’t know, I guess I just don’t deal with it anymore unless it’s prominent and making money for someone. To me there are 2 levels of copying. The first is innocent - we all do it when starting out. Copying our favorite designers & artists, learning to do what they do by imitation. That’s flattery and should be expected to some degree if your work gains even the slightest bit of notoriety. It’s a minor annoyance in the scheme of things. The 2nd level of it is a company or designer either copying or straight up stealing your work for financial gain without giving credit. That’s almost another question entirely, one that requires cease & desist letters, occasional legal action, and a totally unnecessary waste of everyone’s time. That’s more rare and a case by case basis. The other, simple answer would be ‘let the internet deal with it’…www.youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com is AMAZING for this kind of thing.

A while ago, you decided not to do any more tutorials. What is your perception of the current ‘tutorial culture’?

I guess I just realized how much I had to teach myself through experimenting, trial and error, and simply learning by doing and would rather encourage people to do that as well than just say ‘hey, here’s how I made that one thing. You can do it too in just a few steps!’. I think tutorials are great for some people, but it’s not my preferred style of teaching or learning. I got sick of breaking my work down into a simple 12-step lesson, like it was a matter of technical steps rather than a matter of personal, artistic, spontaneous choices that led to a final, beautiful piece that could not be replicated by anyone else. The more ownership you take of your work, the more intimate you are with your process, the more you can appreciate it and let others appreciate it. Just my opinion. I think tutorials are a vital part of design education but they don’t interest me personally anymore.

You’re a big fan of Mark Romanek. Have you ever thought of directing music videos or getting more involved with moving image? 

Absolutely. There are a few things like that, life drawing, 3D design, motion graphics, for example, that I dream of doing. It’s just a matter of finding time to really learn those things well and experiment. So easy to get caught up in what you already do well that carving out time for totally new ventures gets more and more difficult, you know? An unfortunate paradox for creative people.

Can we say, you’re running out of the household brands that you haven’t work with yet.  Is there still one product or brand you’d like to work with the most?

Ha. I’d like to work more with some of the clients I’ve already worked with actually. Vans for example…I love what they are all about, love their culture, love their products…I almost want to work on a deeper level with them, for example, even though I’ve worked with them several times already, than another company.  I’d actually like to start working with more musicians again. I feel like it’s been way too long since I worked on album art for anyone. Another project like what I did with Lupe Fiasco or Fall Out Boy would be amazing…would love to work with Jay-Z. Would love to work with Apple, Bell & Ross, Levis, H&M…lots of great brands I haven’t worked with that I really admire.

In the stream of huge high profile work, have you completely stopped taking on small projects - or do you do an event flyer now and then?

I haven’t done any event flyers in a long time now but I still take on smaller projects from time to time, yes. As long as it makes sense with my schedule and seems like a fun project, I still work on it. I will never consider myself ‘above’ any project. I think it’s dangerous to become that arrogant as a designer, putting yourself in a place that’s ‘too good’ for a potential project seems like the wrong attitude. Take each project as it comes, big or small, and figure out if it’s something you’d enjoy working on. Simple.

Your latest art piece is called ‘Dark Light I’. Do you have a plan / message before you start working on a personal piece? 

The ‘I’ in that is actually meant to be ‘1’, although I think it probably reads like ‘Dark Light I’, I like ‘eye’, meaning me, which is not the case. Ha. It’s just supposed to be the first in a series, really. Anyways, I don’t always have a specific plan or message when I work on personal stuff. The personal work is my chance to truly just experiment and have fun with stuff I don’t otherwise get to do with commercial work. The ‘Dark Light’ piece was primarily done out of a desire to explore some darker themes than I usually do.

Since your first showcase book, you’ve always donated part profits to charities for good causes. Do you feel current design scene is doing enough for the third sector?

Absolutely - I think the art & design community has always done a really beautiful job of supporting good causes. Just look at the recent efforts of artists like James White  - www.signalnoise.com - with his poster for Japanese relief efforts. Not to mention all the other artists doing things for that cause, donating sales to relief, etc. I’ve donated sales of my personal work to different charities over the years because quite frankly I think it’s my responsibility to do so. I think anyone with the means to print and produce their own work to sell, anyone with a platform and large audience, has some degree of responsibility to help and give to causes greater than their own.

What was the main reason to start sharing studio instead of the home works space? Has your work / life benefited from the switch?

I worked primarily from home for about 6 years before making the change to working in a separate studio. It’s so nice to get up and leave in the morning. If you work at home it can be difficult to have a true ‘beginning and end’ to your day. I’d wake up and just go right to the computer when I worked at home and next thing I’d know it would be 2PM and I had yet to really eat or do anything besides sit all day. I like having some structure - I think you have to create that structure for yourself when you run your own business. Anyways, i just really love having a separate, designated space to work in that’s apart from where I want to relax at home.
 

If you could redesign one classic album cover, which one would it be?

I wouldn’t really redesign anything but I would love to have been involved with the design & production of most any of TOOL’s albums. Aenima, Lateralus, 10,000 Days…Adam Jones does SUCH an amazing job with their album art & production it blows my mind. Nobody pays attention like they do. 

What is your proudest No Pattern moment?

It’s probably a tie between a few things to be honest. The first time I ever spoke publicly was in New York City for the Semi-Permanent conference and that was a really proud moment for me, mainly because I made it through the whole thing without fainting or getting tomatoes thrown at me. Haha. That was a big one though. The others would be the entire Windows 7 project I worked on  just because it was such a huge and wide-reaching project. And as mentioned earlier, having Computer Arts name me a ‘Design Icon’…that was about as humbling an achievement as I could possibly imagine and I’m hugely grateful for it.



In-depth interviews with the world's leading creatives
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