"Always push through the frustration."
Zach McCurdy finds inspiration everywhere. Living in New York City will do that to you. But how does he filter through the noise and channel that inspiration into actual pieces of art? Scroll down to read all about the designer's tips, tricks, and creative process.
DesignRush: What inspired you to become a designer?
Zach McCurdy: I saw The Jungle Book as a child, and I never looked back. I used to live for the animation in Saturday morning cartoons. I actually started my college career pursuing a degree in animation, but it turns out I hate drawing the same thing 5000 times in a row. Illustration and design were exactly what I loved, with much less repetitive drawing.
DR: Where do you look for daily inspiration?
ZM: I wish I could go to a museum every day, but since I have to work, I turn to my surroundings and the Internet for inspiration. There's nothing like people watching, sight-seeing, and monument-appreciating in New York to set my heart afire. But when I can't access those things, I go to Pinterest and Etsy. You're going to have to sift through the rubble to find the gold, but it's there.
DR: Take us through your creative process.
ZM: My creative process is just, by definition, my way of life. It's not steps I take to make my work. But it's how I interpret the world around me and transfer it into my artwork. So my creative process is being inspired by walking down the streets of NYC and people watching or drawing conversations I hear; it's not a step-by-step "How to be Creative Manual," it's just allowing myself to be involved in the world and be inspired by my surroundings.
DR: What are your favorite design tools?
ZM: First and foremost: my sketchbook. I used to feel like I needed to start and finish digitally, but I've recently realized that my best pieces are ideas that start in my sketchbook. I finish them digitally by scanning in my sketches and using Adobe Photoshop, illustrator, or whatever other program helps me achieve my end goal.
DR: How do you think design will change in the next 10 years?
ZM: I'm hoping that we'll see some more individuality in the field. To be honest, I'm sick of the same-old minimalistic hipster coffee shop logo. I know a lot of great young artists with great voices who could come up and dominate the field, and I hope they'll each get the opportunity to put their unique voice on full blast.
DR: How do you deal with design blocks?
ZM: I am definitively a victim of design block. But I'm objective-driven, so I give myself a hard deadline and an end goal and just force myself to reach them. I'm a creature of habit, and I have to respect that about myself -- for better or worse. Everything I make isn't going to be the next Mona Lisa, so I need to keep creating and work through the shit sandwiches to get to the real masterpieces.
DR: What motto motivates you in your work?
ZM: My motto is "Try everything until you know it doesn't work, and always push through the frustration."
DR: Any final thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with someone in the industry?
ZM: I wish I could impart some existential wisdom, however, I am but a lowly artist. I'll say this: keep working. Work through all the awful sketches, the job interviews that lead to nowhere, and the bad assignments. Freak out if you need to, but then pull yourself together. And always, always listen to criticisms. Get portfolio reviews. Read the mean comments. Listen to your wife when she tells you that your current piece looks like a turd doing yoga in a turtleneck. Don't ignore the bad, because it will help you get better.
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