Next up in our Prints & Inks artist profiles is Jadyn Klassen, a freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Winnipeg. Originally from a small town in the Prairies, his initial interest in drawing at a young age led to editing skateboard videos with a few friends, exploring Photoshop, and then graduating from Red River College with a degree in graphic design. Jadyn has indelibly left his mark on the city, creating brand identities for local institutions such as Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea and emerging independent lifestyle companies, while at the same time exploring possible worlds through his illustrations.
Here’s what he had to say about his work:
1. Describe your path to becoming a graphic designer.
My grandmother introduced me to painting water colours when I was quite young. She would buy me sketchbooks, pencils and paints and that got me interested in drawing. It was always something that I was experimenting with while growing up, and in an art class a teacher of mine recommended that I check into going to school for graphic design. I did a 3-year program at Red River College in Winnipeg. After working at a few studios and somehow being fortunate enough to go on a few journeys around the world, I find myself where I am today, working from home, still drawing, still designing and, still curious.
2. What are some of your influences? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by a lot of my friends, so many of them are taking risks in what they believe in and working on interesting projects. It inspires me to have the opportunity to help people who are trying to fulfill their dreams. Through my design work, I get to help people fulfill their dreams as well.
Other inspirations are: travel, music, politics and ideas on life, animals, monsters, food, old postcards, typography, stories, bikes, skateboards, plants, the prairie sky, etc.!
3. Describe your creative process. What techniques/tools/materials do you use to translate your ideas into your work?
Generally I attack design problems by writing down a list of the problems the client has, and working out ideas and notes in a sketchbook with a pencil. I enjoy combining illustrations with my design work, so for that I use pens and acrylic markers. For my design work I use the Adobe Suite. When I do an illustration, it usually forms from ideas or words that have been floating around in my head for awhile, and somehow they are translated to paper.
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually wake up and read the news, then, I roll out of bed and make some toast. I’m a Peanut Butter and Honey kind of guy. Next I check my emails and reply to anything that needs attention. From there I try to write of list of things that need to get done and slowly start chipping away at that. Certain days are filled with meetings or hang outs, others are filled with time in front of the screen or paper.
5. What motivated you to go freelance rather than stick with one agency? What have been the opportunities that have emerged? What are the challenges?
Freelancing became a reality to me through a series of events. All of the places that I worked at previously were places that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was given an opportunity in mid-2013 to travel to Turkey to live and work for a few months. I couldn’t pass it up, so I left my place of work.
When I returned to Winnipeg, I just kept getting more and more enjoyable work, so I never actively looked at rejoining the industry full-time. I’m happy and fortunate to be working in this way! Many beautiful opportunities have emerged. I’m able to work and collaborate with friends, I have the freedom to travel and learn and continually experiment. I am very new to running my own business so time management, pricing, and administrative work have proven to be challenging.
6 . Currently you’re based in Winnipeg. How’s it like living there as an artist? Pluses and minuses?
I like Winnipeg a lot. There’s a really cool scene here. The people have really warm hearts and there’s a lot of creative people here. I’m more connected to the design scene here but I really love the arts community too, and there’s a lot of overlap between different music, arts, and design communities. Winnipeg has a lot of soul, character and grit. It get’s pretty cold in the winter but that makes for some pretty high spirits during the rest of the year!
7. Where do you see your creative path going in the next five years?
I’ve been taking a few web courses and trying to brush up on my code knowledge. So hopefully I can get a bit further into that stuff. I’ve also been gaining more interest in screen printing during the last year, so I would like to try my hand at some more of that as well. Hopefully continuing with interesting design projects and sustaining myself through that!
8. What creative projects are up next for you?
I’ll be going to Istanbul to work on a fashion catalogue over there for a few weeks. There’s always illustrations in the works. I’m really excited about a project I’m working on right now for a natural skincare/shaving product company from here in the Prairies. Also, a friend and I are hoping to get some more T-shirts made, we’ve had some fun designing t-shirts this last year. As always, I’ve been making hand-drawn tote bags. Getting my website updated is also pretty important for the coming year.
10. Bonus question: Your favourite music artist/band/album?
That’s a tough one, too many to pick just one. The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery album has been spinning for me lately. The new Future Islands is great. HNNY makes nice music. I’ve been enjoying anything that theJazz Jousters Bandcamp page has been putting out. I’m excited for the new Hawk House album! One of my favourite albums is Catch For Us The Foxes by mewithoutYou It’s always changing. Every week a few friends and I put together a playlist of music. We host it at thejomz.tumblr.com. Check it out!