Friends! I'm super excited to share this week's Celebration Series interview with graphic designer/illustrator/art director extraordinaire Seth Nickerson. Seth is a friend and ex-colleague of mine with an incredible sense of humor and an affinity for zooming in on photos of bread.
Those familiar with Seth's work already know that he's insanely talented. But beyond that, Seth is hard-working, humble, and always quick to offer feedback, encouragement or a good dad joke. I totally admire his talent, drive and dedication to his craft. I'm sure you'll find him as inspiring as I do!
Let's get into the interview...
Give us a quick background on who you are and what you do for work.
Well, I am a graphic designer and art director and occasional illustrator. I am also a husband, father, brother, son, uncle, cousin, homeowner, US citizen, left hander, side sleeper, and probably at least two other things. Currently I’m design director for a magazine, work on various freelance projects, and recently started a tiny new company called Hundredweight with my friend and colleague Phil de Jong Jr.
What about your work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
That’s a tough question. There are a few kinds of joy that I’ve experienced through my work. The first is the feeling of wrestling with something for a while, thinking and tinkering and getting lost in it. That state can be really good, just getting absorbed in the process of creating. Another good one is when I’m able to successfully push something farther than I might have thought, whether it be in a certain aesthetic direction, or on a project that requires something I’ve never done before. That’s always elating when it happens, especially because there are inevitably failures along the way. But probably the best one, and also the rarest, is the feeling that I’ve done work that has some kind of tangible effect, something that deserves to exist in the world.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
A lot. One of the things that I’ve been into lately has been trying to add good habits to my life. I’m convinced that most of life comes down to habits. I participated in something called The 100 Day Project last year, and that’s really what got me started on the idea I guess. Forcing myself to complete something every day, something that I knew would be seen by people and judged on, was hard, but just what I needed to help overcome my perfectionist tendencies. After it was over, I wanted to use that time I had been able to find each day and put it toward something else, so I started running. Most recently, I’ve gotten back into reading novels, and trying to make a habit of reading substantial things in addition to just tweets and internet articles.
I’ve also been looking at more fine art these days, and it’s been fun discovering new artists. I started using this site called Artsy recently, and it’s great for finding art that I can’t afford.
What has been difficult lately?
Creative work by its nature always has its cycle of ups and downs. There are always those times at the bottom when I feel like a total fraud. And also times when the whole industry feels shallow and meaningless. But also: parenthood, money, worries about getting old and losing touch, worries that I’m not working on the right projects or using the limited time I have in the best way possible. Wait, is that too many things?
What makes you different from everyone else in the world and how does that uniqueness manifest itself in your work and life?
I don’t think I’m all that unique, and I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I’m not one of those people who is always full of ideas, always driven to be creating at every spare moment. But I think I’ve figured out my super power: I have an abnormally high tolerance for slow, boring things. It’s a really lame super power. But it’s helpful when drudging through things and pushing past the point where others might have given up. Or just slowing down and trying really hard to think about something from every angle and let it marinate, when the temptation is to say “it’s good enough, ship it and move on.”
What's your spirit animal?
OK, so I took TWO online quizzes that promised to reveal my true spirit animal, and I got owl, and hedgehog. Please clap.
Thank you so much, Seth, for being a part of the blog and for being such a great friend. I'm certain that I'm a better illustrator because of your influence and guidance.
Love & Respect,