Betweencruising on her skateboard, gymnastics and Nintendo, Blake Thomas, 26, liked todo it all as a child. "Perhaps I can credit my lack of hobby commitment tothe quantity of times I moved as well, I grew up between Orlando, Atlanta andOrange Park and attended about 8 different schools between K through 12thgrade as a result. I suppose changing things up so much in my youth made meperfectly groomed to pursue a field that's always changing and flexible to avariety of lifestyles", said Thomas. For Miss Blake, experience seemed tobe her currency. There was no doubt in her mind she wanted to enter thecreative field once she got to college, particularly anxious to focus onadvertising and branding. "It was my college counselor that saidadvertising would be a poor fit for me and he confidently re-directed me intographic design", she said with a slight smile. 5 years later Blake Thomashas built a client resume that one can dream of with clients such as Macy's Adore Me, Avondale Type Co, BloombergBusinessweek, Electric Objects, Giphy, Happy Socks, Kvell, Lazy Oaf, MicrosoftOutlook, Nooklyn, The New Stand, University of Florida, Vox, just to name afew.
Startingat Macy's as a Junior Art Director straight out of college allowed Thomas toexperience the bustling street of New York as she combine her graphicbackground with advertising and photography. Being a part of the shoots, adcampaigns and the inner context of company portrayal, she thought she foundhappily ever after, until after 2 years she quit, moved back to LA andaccidently became a freelancer. "I realized I had wanted to pursue a morehands-on career path vs. the more managerial path of an Art Director," shesaid with confidence. For her the big NY office was stepping stones to adiverse landscape of the unknown and the robust portfolio that she was on thebounds creating. Her style is focused, taking particular interest for humanqualities and transferring hidden meaning that mixes color and symbolicrepetition, balance and pattern. Her work transcends the still life painting.Using 3D has her preferred medium she takes an new approach to what you wouldcall advertising.
She'shumble and humored as she speaks to DACA about her past, her style and herearly beginnings.
So this is a big question for you. Please explain yourbeginnings and early influences? Describe your home town? Was school or aparticular person an influence during your early design career? Iwouldn't say I had an especially creative childhood, outside of doodling onclass notes I preferred to play Nintendo or cycle through hobbies. I've tried agood bit – guitar, skateboarding, rollerblading, hip hop, gymnastics, crosscountry, soccer, the list goes on. However, growing up in the notoriously weirdFlorida I realize now how much creativity was embedded in my environment.From kitschy touristy art to one of the biggest surrealism museums,or county fairs eclipsed by a city of theme parks. There was no shortage ofentertainment and new experiences.
Do you remember a particular time when you knew thatDesign and contributing to the web was something you wanted to enter orpursue? When entering college I believed I wanted to study advertisinghaving had an introductory course to graphic design in high school. Acollege preview counselor, who was cycling through a different studentevery 10 minutes offering advice, was sweet enough to spend the extra timeto tell me that advertising would likely be a poor fit and confidentlyre-directed me into graphic design.
Before starting your Freelance Career where did youwork? Are you currently working now for an individual agency or freeroamer? After graduating college I moved to New York to work as a JuniorArt Director at Macy's. About 2 years into it I realized I had wanted to pursuea more hands-on career path vs. the more managerial path of an Art Director. Atthat time I baby-stepped into freelance by contracting at a tech company, whereI was able to design and illustrate full-time. During that time I also began tomoonlight – learning 3D design to stay fresh from working in-house. I probablywould have happily lived this lifestyle for a while, however, an unexpectedrelocation from New York to Los Angeles resulted in me becoming an accidentalfreelancer after a few months of not being able to score an interview in-houseanywhere.
You have started a diversity of different project inmediums such as 2D and 3D. What is your favorite and how are theydifferent? Is your process different? I personally don't have apreference between 2D and 3D work, it really comes down to the scope of aproject. From an aesthetic stand point they're definitely quite different,perhaps as opposite as you can be on the digital front. However, process-wise Ihave the same steps for both. After a project briefing I start out with ahandful of sketched concepts, with included mood boards to inspire proposedcolor palettes, layouts, or style. After honing in on a particular concept it'sa sweet and swift dive into digital from there.
You have a distinct style in much of your work with ashimming purple, pink and light green color choices. There are also a lotof human objects and shapes. Is that intentional? Describe your thinking aroundthese. My color palette often changes from more technical reasoning, Ienjoy brightly lit compositions and reflective materials that are easy on theeyes. Recently I've worked with more iridescent materials mainly due toswitching to a render program Octane and creating the material by completetrial and error in a weekend experiment. Per human elements – I've always foundhands and lips especially beautiful. They're also insanely difficult for me tocreate in my 2D aesthetic, so I must be filling a void there!
You have worked for many clients considered large,what has been your favorite project? Definitely an equal playing fieldthere, depending on the day and time I'll vote a different one every time.Currently I'm quite proud of an icon set designed for a conference – VoxConversations. It was a large set design that included minimizing a handful ofDC landmarks, some of which look quite similar, a very unique and rewardingchallenge.
Was it referrals that landed you these, web orsomething else? Almost 100% through social media! An extra special shoutout to Instagram and Dribbble for creating communities that mix personal workwith professional presence.
Do you work with others during these projects? WhenI was younger I worked at a very customer-centric grocery store for 6 yearswhich has caused me to be quite big on client satisfaction. I generally worksolo but highly value what the client brings to the table, from a brief to avery specific idea. Integrating the small details give a project that extradose of magic.
You have a couple other projects, Beer Brewing,Coaster Collecting, Gardening, can you explain some of these and how you findthe time to make them happen? I strive to not work on the weekends, Ibroke that habit often the first half of this year and it affected my work flownoticeably. It's difficult to work off of a low battery constantly, not tomention slows you down! With two email free days a week making time for newhobbies and adventures is effortless.
Finally, what is next for Blake? What are youcurrently getting your hands into, is there any new surprises client worklaunching? I'm hoping to work more and more in animation, at least onthe personal side. I've found it so inspiring to put out an animated piece andsee an audience create their own story around it, or share with others tocompliment a fond memory. Professionally, I'm working with a few new clientswhich have been challenging me in fun and less charted ways – can't wait toshare in the upcoming months!