Valerie Thompson is a Texas-born, Australia-raised human being designing, illustrating and laughing at her own jokes in Dallas, TX
When did you start with art? What about your first influences?
I got really into art back in high school. It was my favorite subject, and I would often actually spend my lunchtimes in the art studio, working on stuff outside of class hours.
I was drawn to the meditative process of working on something with my hands for hours on end. I guess you could say I was a big art nerd haha.
My first influences (and I look back on my old work in horror, as I think a lot of artists do) were a lot of hyper-realism artists. For a large part of my early work, I was obsessed with rendering details perfectly.
I think that desire to create as authentically as possible helped me to form a lot of good technique habits which has carried through to parts of my work in later years, but my interests and influences have diverged a lot from what I originally was looking at.
Who or what made you become an illustrator-graphic designer?
It was actually a bit of an aha moment for me.
I was halfway through a graduate Master of Fine Arts program just about two years ago now, and I was kind of exasperated by the kind of feedback I was getting from peers, and the direction the program was taking me.
A lot of what I was hearing was that my work was too neat and clean – and it was. It definitely wasn’t the kind of messy/beautiful/relaxed work that I think of when I think about the kind of really good fine artists that I admire.
I started considering if I had overlooked design too quickly as a career (my initial misgivings were that I couldn’t imagine working in a corporate environment), and that semester I enrolled in online courses at SCAD toward a certificate in design, so I wound up completing my MFA alongside taking courses in design and sort of teaching myself along the way.
How did your style evolve over time?
I’m actually still pretty fresh in my career as a designer/illustrator, so I’d say there’s still a little bit of experimentation in my portfolio.
I’m curious about all kinds of techniques, and I want to learn them all. I went through a big vector illustration / icon phase for a while, where I wanted to create icons and vectorize and compartmentalize all the little things in my life haha.
More recently, I’ve delved into hand-illustrated stuff.
Today, I made a flat illustration style landscape with texture and grain. It’s a little bit of everything, really.
The one thing I think that has stayed consistent in my work though is my zest for type. I’m a bit of a type snob.
Ever since I took an intro to typography class and realized that there are these general guidelines for how to place type to look a certain way, I’ve noticed the type treatments of things everywhere I go.
Tell me 3 things that inspire you right now.
70s-inspired colors and typography
Scandinavian design and folk art
What are your main sources of inspiration?
I wish I could say something cool like “meditation” or “music” but I’m a super visual person, so I’d say visual things.
I spend a lot of time looking at other designers that I admire and their work. I draw a lot of inspiration from the past – I’m very into old signage and old type.
One thing I love to do is flip through old TIME, LIFE and National Geographic magazines from the 50s and 60s.
I actually like to collage too when I get the time, and those are the best places to find imagery and content to work with.
Briefly describe your artistic process and the techniques and mediums you use.
My artistic process has kind of changed since I’ve started working on a team of designers in a collaborative environment, but depending on the work it happens in a few different ways.
If it’s personal work – it’s kind of like I get an itch and I have to sit down and “scratch it” by getting some marks on paper or opening an illustrator document.
If it’s client work, I do a lot of mood boarding first, then that process usually sprouts a couple of exciting ideas which I either furiously open an illustrator document and start pen-tooling right away, or draw out a messy sketch on paper to refine.
With hand-drawn stuff, I’ll admit I do a lot of stuff in pencil, then refine with micron pens on top of that drawing, then take a picture on my camera phone which I then clean up in photoshop and pull right into illustrator.
It’s not the most elegant method, but it works for me!
For colors, I love to pull directly from nature and the things I see around me. In college, I had a professor who made us go out into the world with little torn paper bits and paint, and we had to find and mix something like 30 colors on the spot, to match the objects we saw.
Do you have any rituals to find inspiration? Do you listen to music? Surf on the net or what else?
I don’t really have any foolproof ways I use to become inspired.
I do spend a lot of time on Dribbble, but I’m trying to do that less and less, as I’ve noticed some of my best work comes out of being inspired by other sources.
I actually have a bit of anxiety about striking inspiration – I know it’s weird but sometimes I worry that I won’t come up with any ideas for something within an appropriate time. I always do, but I’ve found that I usually become inspired as soon as I stop making myself feel like I’m on the clock to come up with something.
So maybe I’d say a ritual of mine is trying to let go of the process a little bit, to let the creativity in.
And…when you are not inspired what do you do?
Something nice I learned in art school is to not immerse yourself in the world of your work for too long at one time.
In my experience, the same goes for inspiration. If you feel like you’re pushing for ideas, take a step back and walk away – go get coffee, go for a walk. More often than not I’ve found that once I stop forcing ideas to come to me, they do.
It’s kind of like some people say they have their best ideas in the shower. Because you’re not putting pressure on yourself to think about a certain thing, your mind wanders more and creates more opportunities for something cool to come to you, organically.
What are the graphic projects that you love?
It is hard to pick a specific one. If we’re talking about some projects from other designers I’ve seen that I love, I’m always inspired by the geniuses over at LAND. They can do no wrong, and they’ve so earnestly created a style that is all their own. That’s the dream.
While I don’t think I necessarily have a particular style right now, I would be able to say I will have made it, in my mind, when people come to me seeking my style of work.
If we’re talking about projects I’ve worked on, I am pretty stoked about a branding project I am working on right now for a fellow photographer.
The brief is to create a warm, 70s-inspired brand and right now this is kind of my personal aesthetic, so it has been super fun and has come together pretty naturally.
How do you define your style today?
I’m a bit of a design shapeshifter as of late, particularly working with a new group of super talented designers – I’ve had to lift my game, and it’s been nice.
I’d say my work right now is pretty color driven? I’ve been focusing more on curating meaningful color palettes in my work, and exercising restraint in the colors I choose to work with.
Besides illustration and design what are the your other passions?
In addition to working full-time at a design studio and taking on freelance work on the side, I’ve been building a photography business over the past year.
This has been something I’ve pursued in tandem with my design work, and in a lot of ways it has taken shape in a similar way.
My photography work definitely has a “brand” about it.
Lookin forward to a weekend with lots of this ^ who’s with me? Lookin at you, newly engaged couples! I have switched over to my 2018 pricing, but if you head over to my website you can take a look at my bucket list which has a collection of locations and venues both local and afar that I am willing to comp travel fees or give a solid discount on wedding and elopement packages booked for those locations! And for all you 2018 newlyweds – I am offering 30% off in-home sessions booked in January and February! Basically, if you’re married or not and you’re looking for some deals, ya girl has got some for you.
Un post condiviso da Valerie Thompson | Dallas, TX (@valeriethompsonphotography) in data:
When was this passion born and what about Valerie Thompson photographer?
I’ve always kind of oscillated between working with my hands and working with a camera.
I love the two just the same, so I try and pour equal time into each pursuit, and I’ve found that my photo work often informs my design work, and vice versa.
I would say I first started taking photography seriously during my first analog photography class in college. It was a large format (4×5) film camera class where we had to memorize exposure equivalents, load and develop film by hand in the dark room, and print using enlargers and chemicals.
I’ve gravitated toward shooting digitally now, but I have a lot of enthusiasm for the kind of filmic colors generated by analog processes.
The colors produced by using film aren’t even a part of the digital photography process, so I work to create film-like colors in my photography during the editing process.
Have you any future plans or artistic dreams that you can share with us?
Yes, I have lots!
I’m excited about where this past year has taken me in such a short time, and I suppose I’m just excited to keep going full steam ahead and never stop improving upon myself.
Like I said earlier, the ultimate dream would be to work on some select projects for clients that feel a lot like personal work.
My father always told me not to waste my time looking for a job, but to instead look for something I really love to do, and do that, and I’d say he’s pretty spot on.
Honestly, I’d say I’m living the dream right now, getting to go in every day and work with a team of really cool, really talented designers on some projects that don’t feel a lot like work!
Where can we follow your art?
You can find my design work on my website: www.valeriethompson.co | on my Dribbble: dribbble.com/vthompson | and sometimes on my Instagram (among all the pictures of my dog) instagram.com/valerieethompson/