Photo Recap: An Evening with Don Clark

Did you hear (obviously not if you weren’t there, but if you did and you didn’t come? Shame on you), well-known designer and former punk rocker, Don Clark of Invisible Creature was nice enough to come and talk to us AND make an amazing customer poster for use too! And with a SOLD OUT crowd, you know it was good night!

Here’s a picture of a guy writing his name tag.

Here’s Don signing some of his posters.

And here’s a girl super excited by her custom Don Clark poster.

Here are some people that are trying to act like they had no idea their picture was being taken.

Here are some people getting hype about the talk, bot realizing that Don Clark is right behind them!

If you were too cool to attend then, that’s just too bad.  Don packed 41 years of life into 45 mins and we’re so glad he did. He shared some home runs, disasters and the moments when he wanted to give it all up.  Don, thank you for being so real. We really appreciate it. Now sit back and get ready to geek out at some of his amazing work and the stories that surround them.

“I look at my life as a book and there’s just been a lot of chapters and I couldn’t have written this book if I tried to. It’s kind of been a crazy rollercoaster and so the evolution of our career and the company has been crazy.”

“I have always had an obsession with Disney, Space and Star Wars.”

“My Grandfather plays huge role in our story. He was a graphic designer and illustrator for NASA. He made the idea of being an illustrator and a designer real.”

“It all started with a punk rock band.”

“All of the sudden we were starting a band and a design studio.”

“Decided to start a design studio with brother and a friend. Our friend was interactive and my brother and I were print. And it all started at the age when design on the internet actually started to become a thing. I was a new awakening around 2001, 2002. All three of us were from music scene. And we started wondering, “What if we try to start record design studio?” So they asked the owner of Tooth and Nail Records if they could and he said he already had a an art department. So what did we do? We asked, “What if we cut our price in half?” And then Asterik Studio happened.”

“We had a huge built in audience already after the first couple album designs and that’s all we did. Music packaging and websites for bands.”

“Asterik Studio went on to hire 6 people. And in 2006 we decided to mutually split. My brother and I wanted to focus on packaging and branding and Demetri wanted to move on to do more large scale projects.”

“And then the digital age of music began. Budgets started shrinking. There was more competition, that’s a great thing.”

“And then came the Foo Fighters. The Foo Fighters album was a complete game changer.”

“The best part of the entire project is the time between when you hang up the call and the time you start. Thats the best moment you’re gonna have. Hopefully at the end you’ll be able to match that feeling.”

“He sent tons of different interactions and the manager was not feeling it. He actually had to blackout of judging a design competition to keep working on the album covered. And the last thing he sent was it.”

“This project could have destroyed me. They could have hated everything and fired me. That happens…But for me that can’t happen. I met the band, we hung out, we’re bros now!”

“These sweet spot projects don’t happen a ton in your career. They just don’t and this one I’m really pleased with how it came out. And the band was and this was the year they won a ton of Grammy’s. We actually went to the Grammy’s that year and we were nominated for another record. They played and it was super special.”

“When we can photograph our own stuff when it comes to packaging we prefer to do that. We come with high level concept stuff occasionally and this was one of the projects we wanted to do that with. This is an album for rapper Derek Minor from Tennessee. The records name is “Minorville” And I though okay, what if we did like a city that was in the shape of his head, but you’re seeing the city from the top.”

“Dad is a woodworker extremely skilled and is always up for cool stuff. And I was like “Hey Dad, wanna build a city for a rapper’s head?” And he was like let’s do it. We had three weeks to do this. It was insane.”

“My whole though was I really wanna experiment with light and shadows. I just want to play around with the light and see what it does.”

“Transitioning from album packaging to illustration, which is mainly what we do now, I didn’t set out to do that it was just kind of this random evolution of time and kind of where my head was at. I knew that I couldn’t just keep doing album packaging forever. It was going down, things were going down in terms of finances for that, so three thing happened in 2004.

  1. The Incredibles came out-the art of the incredibles made me want to start drawing again.
  2. The new poster explosion happened
  3. I had a baby- I was seeing everything with fresh eyes.

My life was kind of being flipped upside down.”

“We go heavy into the silk screen poster world. It was awesome because we met so many cool people. The posters were pretty much pro bono work. It was an investment in trying to change the trajectory and really just experiment and have fun with color.”

“It led to some really good illustration work.”

“Next evolution was with products.”

“In 2005 it was Urban Vinyl. Falling in love with toys and characters. What if we put out our own toy? It’s really expensive. We waited for someone to come along and ask us to help make a toy. A couple years went by and I designed a shirt for one of my favorite design blogs called Grain Edit. A year later I got a tweet from Bryan Flyn from Super 7 Toys wanted to make a toy based on one of the characters on the shirt. And he was like “Really? that’s not even my favorite guy on the shirt.” Since then we’ve done like 30 Leroy’s. Super niche stuff. Which led to another one. Stenson.”

“With the New awakening of toys led us to Monster Blocks, too.”

“Then we did Wow! Gift Cards for Target. Worked with Target for 10 years and am just super thankful.”

“Then came Cinerama. It was very big in the 50s and now there’s only 3 left in the world. They have 3 cameras going at the same time and 3 projectors going at the same time. At times you could actually see the seams in the older movies.

Remember 80% of our work is commercial art. I am just as shocked as anyone that we get these calls.”

“Got a call from a friend to do the mural for the multi million dollar remodel in downtown Seattle.  What am I going to do that’s not gonna piss off architects, people walking by and fans of films? After many iterations and many struggles through this project and at one point thinking it would never get done, this is what came to be.

Oh and the owner of theater is Paul Allen, the guy that started Microsoft with Bill Gates.”

“The NASA project. This was the one that almost killed us.

NASA does not usually hire other designers. We did some sketches and then something happened. NASA is government funded and they are very careful about how they promote things. There were 12 poster designs total and we did 3 of them. They gave us the go ahead to put them on our site and did a small run of prints. And they also warned us that the art was public domain once they did it. Once they put online, it blew up. Next thing we knew we were one the phone with BBC and other news outlets and the local news came to their house. And I had to make this split decision on whether to make more posters. The 50 sold out in a second. If everyone else is going to making it and selling, why shouldn’t we sell it too. The sales were going so fast that we ended up printing 5,000 high quality signed prints.

There’s many reason why the job almost killed us:

  1. We had to ship 5,000 posters quickly. It was not easy. People wanted them now.
  2. I’m a people pleaser. I wanted to ensure quality.
  3. Our store was through Paypal. We were getting too many orders too quickly so they shut down our store. We could still take in orders, but we couldn’t take out money.  They also wanted a tracking number for all 5,000 posters before they released one cent. I had to absorb everything to get them printed. I almost had to refinance the house. Thank goodness a buddy owned a shipping company and ended up saving the day.
  4. Dealing with a few angry customers because it was taking a couple months to get them sent.

I look at this project in a bittersweet way. I’m super thankful for what happened, but the stressed it induced and the fact that my family was suffering because to it too and we had no money in the bank. And seeing it everywhere did something to my phsyhe too. It was a dark time, but I’m glad to be on the other side of it so I can laugh at it now. The moral of the story is there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The icing on the cake was when a friend texted who was working on the new Incredibles movie and my NASA poster was on the inspiration board.”

As for the next project Invisible Creature has in the works? A film. Stay tuned!

Don-we can’t thank you enough for traveling all the way to Charlotte, for making a cool poster and sharing parts of your journey as a designer with us. We hope your ears are burning because everyone had nothing but good things to say!

Oh and if you aren’t familiar with Don’s work, which you should be you can check out more here.

And before we go, a shoutout to our chapter sponsors, MetrographicsThe Creative Group, and Industry Coworking, our event sponsors, Dunhill Hotel8.2.0 and, Theory House and presenting sponsor, Centerfold Agency. Thank you all for your unwavering support! We couldn’t have done it without you!

By Katie Hodges
Published May 22, 2017
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