Every now and then you find a brilliant designer that does a lot more than just design. Such is the case with Anthony Neil Dart, a designer from South Africa who also has credits in music production and film. Descriptions like "Renaisance Man" come to mind when you find those like Anthony that seem to effortlessly master various areas that take the rest of us a lifetime to grasp. But as is also often the case, it took Anthony a lot of hard work and education to get to where he is today.
Anthony Neil Dart hails from Johannesburg, South Africa where he runs his own design studio. He has an interesting and legitimate claim to being both self-taught and educated in the arts. Anthony’s formal training was in traditional arts that involve hand-made designs, so Anthony had to learn computer-aided design on his own to survive in a commercial setting.
Anthony flourished once he was able to start producing in programs like Adobe Illustrator and has since carved out a career of creating unique commissioned works. His designs are simple, but very clear and accessible. Typographical elements and symbols are ever present in his designs as can be seen in the following examples:
Anthony graciously took time out of his busy schedule to give us deep insight into his background, approach, and inspiration. We hope you enjoy his responses as much as we here at HV-Designs did!
ThinkDesignBlog (TDB): Are you self-taught or have formal design education?
Anthony Neil Dart (AND): I studied fine arts, namely graphic processes like traditional print making: linocut, woodcut, and silkscreen. So everything was by hand. The course included art history, drawing, photography, art history, and sculpture. As far as (digital) graphic design, I am self taught. My intention after leaving my studies was to become an illustrator but found the going tough as I had no computer skills. So I set about learning the computer out of necessity, which I found odd at the time because it had not really dawned on me that I could use the computer as a creative tool until I actually set about creating my artwork digitally.
Looking back now it seems absurd — but now it’s very different; for students today the computer is a given.
And it was the internet that actually ignited my love for graphic design. The more I exposed myself to it, the more seduced and submerged I became in the world of graphic design. That really heightened my perception and I started falling in love with printed matter — first magazines and then design books which I still consume rather ferociously.
TDB: Who are some of your influences?
AND: My earliest inspiration comes from the work of William Blake — looking back I already had a love for words and illustration, his writing and art inspire me still. The other influences came much later — but the work of Joseph Muller Brockmann and Wim Crouwel truly awakened me to graphic design. I love their systematic approach to minimalism without loosing creativity while working within considered confines.
TDB: How do you balance the creative with the commercial side of being an artist?
AND: I have this uncomfortable realm within which I operate — I love art and design and realize they both have their own place, and despite my natural instinct to resist taboo I often find myself exploring this push and pull between the two. Many of my fellow designers hate this quirk, especially the ones positioned squarely in the modernist camp. I also think what inspires creative people manifests itself in their work — the artifacts and shrapnel of all that is digested and then poured out for the viewer to discover, little codes and secret languages.
TDB: How do you handle client interviews?
AND: I like to involve them as much as possible in the process — whether it’s a complex commercial [project] involving CG animation and live action integration or typography based work for a below the line ad campaign. The key is communicating clearly and really understanding their particular needs and requirements, and totally inviting them to contribute to [the] process. Clients who embrace this way of working benefit hugely including myself. More often than not you both get to add value where it’s most important.
Anthony certainly has a portfolio that can inspire anyone to new heights within their own design projects. Whether you find yourself meddling in several fields of design at one time or are focused on a particular niche, Anthony’s portfolio is one sure to give you the push you need to keep reaching for your goals. Anthony’s determination, education both formal and self-taught, and his love for what he does may be a few of the main reasons why he is so successful today. Hopefully, this glimpse into his approaches to design, clients, and education will give you some tools you can use to keep moving forward.
About the author:
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers postcards, posters, brochure printing, postcard printing, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.