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VIRGIL: Your office. How many times have you moved since we saw you last on THE BRILLIANCE?
CHUCK: Man…I’ve been in too many different offices! I actually moved to a new office 3 years ago, just around the time we put THE BRILLIANCE!!!!!!1!! on hiatus. It’s been a really great space here in Grand Rapids but with the possibility of moving back to Chicago on the horizon I couldn’t commit to another year there so I’m about to move into another smaller space with a friend (SethHerman.com) until further notice.
VIRGIL: How many hours do you spend in an Adobe environment a day?
CHUCK: Not sure exactly how many hours a day, usually just depends what I’m working on, but if I’m on a computer I’m either writing emails, wasting time on the internet, or in Photoshop or Illustrator. Adobe actually hooked me up with a Creative Cloud subscription recently as I’ve been starting to work with them lately and it’s cool, basically full access to ALL Adobe programs…going to have to give After Effects a go one of these days after wanting to for so long but just never having a real reason to buy it.
VIRGIL: Any plans at doing an art show soon?
CHUCK: I tell myself every year ‘I gotta do a proper show soon’ and then I never do. I think it’s because I just get so wrapped up in my commercial work which takes up like 75% of my time. Starting to think that a show is just going to happen when it happens naturally…when I start spending more of my time cranking out personal work than being consumed in client stuff. But yeah, it’s one of my top priorities - Ben’s been on me about it forever..!
VIRGIL: Describe the atmosphere of clients now at this point in your career versus the early days?
CHUCK: The early days were interesting because I didn’t have a project/business manager like I do now which makes such a big difference in the relationship with a client. Now I have someone on emails & calls with me when dealing with a bigger client (I still handle smaller stuff like magazines or whatever on my own) and it just creates a totally different atmosphere. Someone to deal with all the paperwork, negotiation, clients being difficult or whatever the case may be. I still have full control of my business and like to stay involved on that side of things, but I don’t have to bear the full responsibility of those things and can primarily just focus on my work. The other thing is that now, after almost 10 years of doing this, I’ve been able to establish myself and my reputation so clients are a lot more trusting and willing to give me more freedom than in early days when I was like 19 and had to prove myself a bit more.
BENJAMIN: Thoughts on tumblr.
CHUCK: The perfect embodiment of our attention-deficit generation. Endless scrolling of beautiful images and people and art and weird internet stuff…anyone from literally any niche in the world can use the platform so easily without thinking too much, there are so many fresh templates that you can make your own…Tumblr is its own weird culture on the internet in one sense but then you have people for example like Tim (13thWitness.com) or Virgil who use it as the main outlet to show off the work they’re doing on a pro level. I love that it caters to both those things so seamlessly.
BENJAMIN: When was the last time you checked out yayhooray?
CHUCK: Wow..it’s been a little while. I check out the Animated GIFs and Best Use Of Livejournal threads from time to time still just to find funny stuff but I haven’t actively used it in years now. It was fun at first and I’m sure it still is for those that use it, but I just don’t really participate in any forums anymore…everyone I communicate with is on Twitter now, it’s just changed from those earlier years for me I guess. But I did really love YayHooray for a while there.
VIRGIL: Do you listen to music while you design or silence. Whats the last album you downloaded and paid for.
CHUCK: I listen to a lot of music while I design but lately I’ve been listening to sports radio and podcasts more than anything else. I like the ‘white noise’ that people just talking becomes as you occupy yourself designing something and sometimes I just get tired of my own playlists and trying to figure out what I feel like listening to. But I do definitely listen to music a lot while I work, especially late at night…man, can’t remember the last album I downloaded & paid for! I’ve been using Spotify for a while now so..hmm..actually I do, I paid for Frank Oceans new one. Well worth it as you know.
VIRGIL: What is your favorite medium to create in for personal work?
CHUCK: Since I’d probably answer this question differently depending on the day you ask me, I’ll just give both answers. Lately I’ve been loving working with Copic markers. I’ve been doing a bunch of crazy color blending with them and just enjoy the organic nature of working with ink that bleeds and blends together with different colors well. Then of course photography, one of my first creative loves..I still love going out with my camera at night and shooting…that’ll always be a go-to for me, just the process of going out with a camera and exploring, looking for interesting things that you don’t see when you’re not looking through a lens, you know?
VIRGIL: Any new tattoos recently? What are some of your favorite tattoo artists these days?
CHUCK: Nah, it’s been a little while. Last work I had done was on my right arm by Kore Flatmo. Planning on getting more work by my friend and amazing artist David Allen soon, he’s done a lot of the work I already have and him and I go way back…he’s just getting better and better every minute it seems. Favorite tattoo artists these days have to be him and Thomas Hooper.
BENJAMIN: You and I talk a ton about how certain types of humor are brand new and literally wouldn’t exist without the internet. What’s your favorite flavor of internet humor?
CHUCK: I have a soft spot for animal GIFs like everyone else, especially when they’re doing things that humans do like a tiny lizard washing its hands or a dog sitting at a table using a laptop. I mean seriously what’s not to love about that it’ll never get old to me. But for the last year or so it’s been a faction of people on Twitter that are some of the funniest people I’ve ever encountered. Often referred to as ‘weird Twitter’ (which I think is kind of a trite term but it is what it is), people on Twitter like @dril, @ConorTripler, @ActualPerson084, @famouscrab, @boring_as_heck…just some of the funniest stuff crammed into 140 characters. I’ve invited a lot of these people to my side project Imaginary Image Blog too because I just became such a fan of their writing that I thought they’d be a good fit for that project.
BENJAMIN: Whats up with NP&CO? Any big changes coming soon?
CHUCK: Yeah I’m trying to figure out some better printing/shipping situations right now. It’s not practical to have 500 prints made of something every time but its not affordable to only make 50 of something and sell it in the same way/pricepoint as something made of a larger run. I need to revamp it somehow though - I really respect Scott Hansen’s ISO50/Tycho online store for example - he just is constantly putting out great stuff but does a lot of his own printing in-house which makes sense if you’re doing a high enough volume and get someone to handle the printing/shipping for you. I did my own shipping for the first few years I had NP&CO and while I was really proud of all the work I put into it, handling customer service and shipping and all that yourself is not something I’d recommend. Really tiring work. So yeah, definitely plans to overhaul it soon.
BENJAMIN: What are your thoughts on the city you choose to live in vs. the industry you participate in?
CHUCK: Interesting time for me to answer this question. Been living in Grand Rapids, MI for the last 5 years (as of writing this, March 2013) but my wife Holly and I are anticipating moving back to Chicago later this year. This should be interesting to read a few years from now in case things don’t go as planned whatsoever, ha. That said, Grand Rapids has been a really incredible experience for me - I’ve met some really great people and made some lifelong friends. Considering that I can really do what I do from anywhere, GR has been cool. That said, I do think proximity to a place that excites and invigorates you is important and I feel like Chicago has been calling my name in recent months. I love that city and am eager to get involved in what’s going on there in the art and design world. However, like I said, Grand Rapids has been a really excellent place to live so if we end up sticking around I’ll be happy too. It’s the internet that’s made it possible for smaller cities to even be an option for a lot of people though. Years ago you’d NEED to be where the action is to get work. New York, LA, Chicago, so on and so on. Now depending on what you do you can earn money that you would in those places and live in the middle of nowhere if that’s what you like. Kind of an amazing thing.
BENJAMIN: Who’s your favorite clothing designer?
CHUCK: Honestly not sure. I don’t know that I have one. I don’t want to answer this question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!1!!1!!!
BENJAMIN: Did you miss THE BRILLIANCE?
CHUCK: I didn’t think I did until we started talking seriously about bringing it back. I mean, of course I missed it but I don’t think I really thought about as much until when we started working on it again. Realized I missed having an outlet that is very much my own that I can share with a few close friends to just talk about whatever, interview amazing people, create inspiration for ourselves and other people to enjoy…plus when we hung it up a few years ago was right when Twitter was really coming on. The last 3 years I think we’ve all gotten pretty used to little 140 character spurts. It’s refreshing to be unleashed from that. Not that I couldn’t have written longer posts on my own Tumblr or something but it’s just not the same. The Brilliance has a voice that is all its own and I’m super excited to have it back.
BENJAMIN:You use an iPad now - but you didn’t at first. Since you use computers as a proper tool on a daily basis - where do you think the iPad will fit into your life in, say, 3 years?
CHUCK: I use it pretty casually…I actually intentionally keep all email off of it. I have an iMac, a MacBook Pro, and an iPhone that all tie into my work and communication. It’s amazing how typing this all out makes me realize how overkill that all seems, having 4 devices, ha. So anyways, the iPad (I have a Mini) is kind of my ‘no work’ device. I use it for the internet, movies, just kind of leisure stuff when I travel or just want to go to a cafe and chill out without bringing my bag and laptop. I guess in 3 years it will have evolved a bit to be thinner, faster, whatever else they do to it…I love the size of the Mini though - it just feels like the perfect size to me for that stuff. Adobe and some other developers are putting out some pretty amazing creation apps for the iPad too so I’m sure in 3 years it will tie in more naturally to creating things and using it as yet another tool to make.
BENJAMIN: Favorite vacation spot recently?
CHUCK: I was just in Seattle for the 3rd time recently and I really dig that city a lot. The people, the whole vibe of the city, even the weather, I can’t lie, I like the weather! I’d honestly be good with one month of summer a year…that probably sounds crazy to most people but yeah. I dig it there. Visited London & Brighton last year too…barely scratched the surface of seeing London but what a great city. Gotta get back there soon.
BENJAMIN: Most awkward speaking engagement moment?
CHUCK: A tie between the first time I ever spoke when I was 20 years old. I spoke at the Semi-Permanent conference in NYC - had a whole hour to myself. Pretty much spent the first 35 minutes talking and had to be prompted by someone from behind the stage to show work because I only had like 20 minutes left, ha. I think people were pretty forgiving though since I was so young and figuring it out!! Whatever though, funny to look back and laugh about that. The worst though was probably going back to my old high school to speak to students. Forgot to charge my laptop and it died on me in the middle of talking to them - it freaked me out and my voice cracked in addressing it…man, haha…I can imagine those students later on like “What the hell was that!?” Ha.