Danny Owens
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Blog

This is a blog of Portland photographer Danny Owens. Featuring interviews with artists, makers, and creatives as well as showcasing recent photography work.

Alejandro Rodriguez

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Something that I’ve always loved about social media is its ability to connect the creative community.

I’ve known Alejandro for a few years now. From coming across his design work, to meeting up in New York, to now living in the same city and having the chance to work together.

The opportunities I’ve had to interview artists over the years has continued to inspire me, so I wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. Within a couple months of making the move to NYC, I made sure to shake off the dust and get back at it. I wrangled Hondro into letting me shoot some photos and ask some questions, and below is what we came up with. Enjoy!

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I'd love for you to describe who you are and what you do.

I'm a Brooklyn-based designer and creative who specializes in identity design and lettering. I work full-time at a branding studio here in Brooklyn, Frank Collective, along with pushing out work from my own home studio.

Let's talk about where you came from. How did where you grew up affect your creative journey?

I grew up in a small town called New Holland outside of Lancaster City. The town didn’t really influence my creative output, but a childhood of skateboarding and running around with a diverse group of friends did.

I never spent much time thinking about my future because I was too busy skating through town or getting into trouble. Being exposed to a culture bigger than my small town helped keep my creativity alive well through my youth.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue art and design?

So I wasn’t a standout student in school, and art was the only thing I excelled in. Graphic design wasn’t in my vocabulary until my senior year of high school, and even still I didn’t plan on pursuing it. It was a few years later when I was working at my full time job cleaning cars that I made a decision to go back to school. That winter, I fell into a deep depression when I realized I lost sight of what made me happy and unique. I stopped doing what I loved because I was surrounded by miserable middle-aged men.

I had a good friend who mentioned he was in school for graphic design. After he shared his work with me, I went home, applied to school and never looked back.

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?

A lot of my inspiration comes from language. Reading a line or hearing a phrase and letting my mind visually piece it together has always been my creative habit. Growing up, I filled my sketchbooks with illustrations paired with type. Luckily, a decade later, I still do that same thing but get paid to do it.

You started out as a freelancer and now work in an agency environment. That transition can be difficult. How has it challenged you, and what have you taken away from that challenge?

I felt like the transition was pretty smooth. I went freelance after a brief stay at an agency after graduating from college. I wanted to focus on my own creative growth, so freelance felt like the better option instead of finding a new job. I did that for two years and a for a few months in NYC.

I gained experience in dealing with clients and working on deadlines, so when I was hired at my current job, Frank Collective, it felt pretty natural. Now I work with a team of talented individuals instead of working alone in coffee shops.

How do you push the boundaries with your work? And is it a different approach within your agency compared to your personal work?

I think if I continuously work at the best of my ability, my work will follow. Learning new techniques and skills fuel the growth in my personal work and it directly influences my day job. Positive growth keeps me hungry, and honestly, if you’re not growing then what’s the point?

Tell us about some of your favorite work that you've created.

A project that I’m most proud of is the zine, Farewell Monsters, that I authored and illustrated in 2017. It’s a non-fiction scientific inquiry on 10 extinct creatures. It was purely a self-motivated project and took months to compete. I decided to challenge myself on doing all the research, editing, and illustrations on a topic I didn’t know much about. It was exhausting but well worth it. Yea, there might be a few errors, but I’m still stoked on how it turned out.

What is a dream project of yours?

I don’t have a dream project in mind, but it would be something where I have a positive impact on as many people as possible.

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Who are 3 creatives who are inspiring you right now?

My buddy Peter Laxalt from Laxalt & McIver, Luke Harrison from Be Good Studio, and Eric Friedensohn of Efdot Studios.

How does consistency or routine in your life help your work, or does it?

I totally depend on a routine. Some people don't need it, but I do. I love waking up early to do mundane tasks that take low mental resistance, like doing the dishes or sweeping the floors. Gaining productive momentum is helpful especially when I have a ton to do.

What is your advice to someone interested in pursuing a career in design?

My advice is simple; be honest, work hard, and be good to the people around you. No one wants to work with a pretentious asshole.


Thanks for reading,

If you know of anyone who might be a great fit for this project please let me know!

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