Quick Chats! w/Luke Day. Ep. 06.
For this week’s installment of the Quick Chats! series we will to talking Luke Day; freelance illustrator, letterer and all-round legend.
Q. Your Instagram feed has been absolutely blowing up lately! How’s it all been going for you?
Good I suppose, I get most of my freelance work through either instagram or word of mouth… I really need to sort out a website haha. Kind of crazy to think that I owe most of my freelance career to an app.
Q. People may not know, but you did an apprenticeship in Adelaide before moving to Brisbane to study at Shillington College. What was the straw that broke the camels back?
Yeah I was three years deep into a plumbing apprenticeship. I remember being asked by one of the older tradies when I rocked up on site in my first year “why the fuck do you want to be a plumber?” I didn’t really have an answer, I just shrugged it off, but over the next couple of years it really started to sink in that this was going to be my career and I just couldn’t imagine doing another 30–40 years of it let alone finishing my apprenticeship. Long story short, I got in an argument with the foreman, quit and made the move.
Q. Your latest piece for Lee Denim turned out super steezy; What was the experience like being able to work with such an established brand?
Thanks mate, appreciate it! It was cool, a little daunting to start with, but once I got going they were just like any other client I’ve dealt with.
Q. Can you describe to us your general workflow and process?
I generally don’t like to let jobs run any longer than 2–3 weeks, otherwise I begin to get over it. I want to get in the right headspace and get it done, I don’t want to be waiting a few weeks to get feedback and then revisit it. It really depends on the job though, if it’s just a couple of shirt graphics I like to get them in and get them out as quickly as possible, the longer I dwell on that sort of stuff the worse it gets. Branding on the other hand can be a totally different story.
As for my process, everything starts with a whole lot of shitty pencil sketches. I can determine fairly quickly what will work and what won’t. I like to keep things minimal, I treat illustrations/lettering like I would I logo, I try to get rid of the bullshit and only keep what’s necessary. Anyway, once the chosen sketch has been revised, then it’s on to photoshop and illustrator depending on what kind of result the client is after.
Q. How do you get inspired when working on both personal and client projects?
Well I haven’t really done anything personal other than a few scribbles scattered around my studio, but for client projects it all depends on the brief. Subjects I regularly come back to are vintage sports graphics, sign painting, things/photos I’ve collected from travelling, music, it could be anything really. Honestly, most of my ideas/solutions come to me when I’m not sitting at my desk or trying to force it.
Q. As fellow surfers, how important do you think surfing and being in the ocean is to keeping your head in the right place?
Not just surfing, but just being near the ocean is important to me. I grew up in Adelaide and you don’t exactly have waves at your front door like you do here, but just having the ocean a couple of streets away was always enough. If I have to go five days plus without surfing I start to get a bit antsy… I’d probably get a lot more work done if I didn’t surf though.
Q. With the Spring conditions in full force, what’s your favourite recreational thing to do when there’s no surf around?
It has to be really shitty conditions for me not to surf. Although lately I’ve been fishing, either that or I’ll go kook it at the skatepark for an hour or until my ankles give way, which ever comes first.
Q. Looking back at your experiences, is there anything you would do differently, then looking forward, what are your goals for 2016 and beyond?
Yes and no. I wish I didn’t waste my time plumbing, but I’m not sure I would be where I am now or as driven to succeed as a designer had I not gone through that experience.
As for 2016 and beyond, I don’t know, I’ll just take things as they come. At the moment I’m in two different frames of mind, a part of me wants to keep freelancing and the other part wants to work with a studio/agency again, I feel like I still have so much to learn and you only get that when you work with likeminded people within the industry.
Q. Best piece of advice you’ve been given and best piece you can give?
I haven’t really been given a piece of advice that has stuck with me over the years. I mean, I was talked out of graphic design as a career in high school, I was told to get a trade and I was told I was stupid to not finish my apprenticeship in said trade. So maybe my advice would be to figure out what you want to do, take your time and don’t listen to what other people tell you. It sounds cliche and maybe I’m being cliche by saying it sounds cliche, but listen to yourself and what speaks to you.
Q. And finally, Analogue or Digital?
Analogue, but I didn’t even put pen to paper today so it’s a little contradictory.
To check out what’s up and see luke’s work, head to Instagram and drop bit a follow!
Stay tuned for the next episode of Quick Chats or read Ep. 05. featuring Matt Branagan.