One Minute With…
Hi Darren, thanks for taking time to chat with One Minute With. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
I’m a freelance illustrator and letterer. I’ve been freelancing since 2001 and some of my clients include Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Random House, Penguin Books, Target, ESPN and Sony Music. I live in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada with my wife and son.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of Darren Booth.
Wake up around 9am. Eat breakfast with my wife and son and then head to my studio. Take a million breaks to play with my 1 year old son and give him a few zurberts. Lunch at 12 and then back to work. Wind down for dinner and family time at 5pm. Then around 11pm I’ll work for a few more hours on either client work or personal work. Bed at 2am.
How did you get into design? Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you as a designer?
Like many folks in our field, I attended art school. After a fundamentals year, I knew without a doubt that illustration was the right area for me to study. Graduated and immediately started freelancing. I struggled earning enough for the first few years so I got a job intercepting criminal communications as a wire tapper for one of the largest police forces in Canada. (Not the most likely job for an art school grad, is it?) I continued to freelance while working that job and after a few years I left it to freelance on a full-time basis.
My defining moment came before my career even started – it happened about 6 weeks into art school. I always thought I was going to head into the Animation program when I started college, but once I started seeing projects on display from the Illustration program, I instantly knew that was what I wanted (needed) to do for the rest of my fucking life. From that point on, that’s all I focused on.
How do you approach a new project? What’s your creative process like?
Once I get briefed from the client, I just think about the project and let it marinate. After that, I’ll start thumbnailling some ideas until one feels right. Then I’ll create a proper sketch and send it to the client. I NEVER send a sketch to a client that I don’t like because, of course, that would be the one that would get chosen and then I’m stuck creating an image that I’m not overly thrilled about. That’s a pretty fast way to start hating what you do for a living, imo, and drawing pictures for a living is a pretty good gig so I try not to fuck that up. Once the client chooses a sketch, I’ll transfer the image and slave over it until all of a sudden it’s completed.
Your work has a very distinctive organic, collage-y look to it. Where do you get inspiration?
Thanks. Yeah, my work is acrylic and collage, 100% analog. I feel like such a dinosaur for working traditionally. Occasionally I’ll create a digital piece, but I fucking hate the process. I need to feel the brush hit the canvas, or dig through collage pieces and fit them all together by hand, etc. That’s the stuff that keeps me interested. I consider inspiration anything that makes me react in a positive way before I even realize why I’m liking it.
And whilst we’re on the subject of this unique style of yours, was this something you intentionally tried to develop, or something that evolved naturally? In an industry so full of talented people, how important is it, in your opinion, to have a style that separates you from the rest?
Near the end of art school is when my style began to gel together. Before that, it was a lot of learning and experimenting with different approaches or techniques. Eventually all that experimenting just mixed into something that looked somewhat cohesive and it’s evolved slowly over the years to what it is now. Having a style is important but it’s definitely not necessary. I’d say having good work is more important than having a style.
If, in some Freaky Friday-like situation, you could live the life of another designer, illustrator or creative, for a day, who would it be, and why?
Paul Rand. I like people who are straight shooters.
What design tools could you not live without?
Scissors, found papers and glue. I could survive without a pencil or computer.
And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in design?
Be patient because the first few years aren’t easy. Also, don’t be a jerk.