Tag Archives: Jeff

Laughing Raven Studio: Interview with Jeff Hendrickson

Meet Jeff Hendrickson, Proprietor of Laughing Raven Studio. Jeff has a wide-ranging background in the arts; photographer, textile and clothing designer, generative art creator, graphic designer, branding specialist, web designer, speaker, web design instructor and pretty darn nice guy!

Val:  “Jeff, you have such a versatile background, was this a planned road map in your career?”

Jeff:  “First let me say thanks for this opportunity.  I love to be able to share what I do and how I do it with others.  Moving along – yes, in my own crazy way this is my road map.  My entire professional career has been about visual stimulus.  What usually hits us first is what we see.  Someone is walking towards us down the street and we notice what they’re wearing, their hair, or the look in their eyes.  We pick up a book and we do absolutely judge it by its cover.  We walk into a gallery and we immediately start a conversation with the works hanging on the walls.  So what I do is make the clothes and the textiles that a person can put on and feel good about.  The graphics for a book or CD cover draw a person into that product.  And the art hanging on the wall moves someone, somehow.  If I’ve created something that moves people positively, then I’m a happy camper.”

Val: “What artistic area did you find most challenging?”

Jeff: “I have to say quite honestly that none of the processes are challenging in a negative way – I don’t view any of this as work.  Most of it is effortless for me.  My challenges usually come in adhering to restraints that’ve been put on a project, be that very strict direction on what colors can be used for a textile collection, or font limitations for a graphics project.  Any time someone tells me I have to color inside the lines I scream.  Well, to myself anyway.  I really do play nice.”

Val: “Tell me about the work you do now?”

Jeff: “Oh boy Val, how do I explain this?  Let’s talk about the art I’m currently creating – that’s the most exciting and relevant to me now.  I start off with an interesting photograph that I’ve either taken while driving – with my smartphone – or while walking around on a trip up to Brooklyn, which is where a lot of my work comes from.  Anything that catches my eye gets recorded.  I’m really into architecture and built forms and structures so a lot of the pieces start with those types of subjects.  I then open one up in Photoshop, tear it apart, and put it all back together again, piece by piece, using different filters and effects for each layer.  Most recently, I’ve started using work I do in Generative Art – art created using mathematical algorithms and variables – as custom filters.  I lay them into separate layers and use different transparency types that react in some really cool ways with the different layers of the photo work.  It’s a very dynamic process, sometimes involving parts from a few different photos, and some of the pieces have taken me a week or so to complete. ” 

Val: “If a client were considering a total branding package, what do they need to consider before meeting with you?”

Jeff: “First thing to look at is what the currently have and use.  Fonts.  Colors.  Stationery.  Current website.  Client types.  Roles of key business personnel.  Types of products.  Domestic or international?  Anything and everything about what they are sitting with currently.  If that’s nothing, and this is the very beginning of them moving out into the world, I get a read on their business philosophy first.  I start all clients by having them write a CPR – Context.  Purpose.  Results. Start with results.  What do you want this work to bring to you?  More clients?  Bigger paychecks?  Prestige?  A new Mercedes?  Whatever it is, write it down – no less than 15, worded as “I want xxx, so that…”.  This leads to purpose.  The dominant words and phrases from the results get distilled into a purpose, which can be a sentence or two.  From there, we get the context – the higher purpose so to speak.  The battle cry of the business and what it is that you truly stand for and represent to your clients/customers. Once all this is gathered, I write a loose proposal so that we make sure we’re all on the same page.  I talk about current trends I’m seeing, and will discuss whether or not they care about what their competition is doing.  You’d be surprised how many people want to copy directly from a competitor.  If they insist, I usually turn down the job.  It’s unethical and unimaginative.  Design is about imagination and the guts to move on it.”

Val: “What projects have you collaborated on recently?”

Jeff: “I’m working with an artist in Trinidad, Tracey Chan.  We started following each other on Twitter about two years ago.  I’d retweet her stuff, she’d retweet mine.  We both admired each other’s work and one day I put it out there that we try something together.  We created a Dropbox folder and each put ideas in there.  I put some Generative Art things in that she really liked so we went forward with that.  I sent her the code, taught her how to use it, and then we each created new work, which we then put together in Photoshop to come up with finished pieces.  The bottom-line goal was a show in early spring of this year so we submitted three triptyches to the Brooklyn Artists Gym in Gowanus and got accepted for a show called “Chromophilia” which ran the first two weeks in March.  It’s an unbelievable thrill to get accepted to show in NYC.  I went up for the opening and quite a few friends came.  It was a very magical night to say the least.”

Val: “Are there benefits to collaborating with other artists?”

Jeff: “Yeah, absolutely.  Two minds come together with different ideas towards a common goal.  Each brings a unique aspect to the team and if you start with an alignment the results can really be great.  I think a lot of heart to heart talk needs to happen first though.  Just jumping in, while it could produce some great work, is more fraught with disaster than if the artists are honest and upfront about what they want and everyone agrees on a path forward.”

Val: “Do you have favorite work tools, toys and software when doing your creative thing?”

Jeff: “Sure do.  Illustrator and Photoshop are my constant companions.  I’ve started using Illustrator lately to layout shows.  I take pictures of the gallery before hand and then mockup what I want by putting my stuff up on the walls.  I use Processing, Context Free, and Structure Synth for the gen art work, and a couple of different fractal generating programs, SpangFractal and Endlos Fractals.  The Art Director’s Toolkit is indispensable for quick work with calculations and colors, and Evernote is what I use to keep all notes and ideas for projects.  My camera is an Olympus PEN EPL2 and a lot of my current photo work comes from my Android smartphone.”

Val: “What are some personal projects you have going on now?”

Jeff: “I’m getting ready for a show in June, at the First Fridays thing that’s done in Falls Church, VA.  I’ll be at Fall Properties, a really cool boutique real estate company that’s office is like a gallery.  Each show turns over the first Friday of the month and the wall space is great.  I’ll have 16 pieces there.  A few other possibilities for shows this year are in the works too. Also in works are a lot of textile designs with my partners in NYC and a men’s shirting line with them as well.  My textile design library currently sits at about 3000 designs and new design ideas have been coming out of my gen art work. “One current design project is graphics and a new website for Mean Green Media in DC.”

Jeff: “Wow!  That was a great interview Val!  I hope I didn’t talk too much, but you know how excited I get to talk about this stuff.  You’re a creative too so you know that we do these things because we must.  There is no alternative and there is no end.  The rush I get when someone puts on a jacket that I designed, or hangs a piece of my art on their wall, is icing on the cake.  It lets me know that what I do matters to someone, and I like that feeling.”

Val:  Thanks Jeff, I love your work!  Looking forward to seeing new designs in upcoming shows!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.