Written by: Tara Thompson
Introspective Design is the brain child of multi talented artist, Erik McLean. Outside of running his own business, Erik has recently photographed JibFest in Corner Brook and Paint or Dye; designed album artwork for local groups Waterfront Fire and Young Manics; and is also busy as the creative director of DJJO. Rock Island caught up with Erik to see what got him into art and what his plans are going forward.
Rock Island: What sparked your interest in graphic design/photography?
Erik McLean: I’ve always been a very creative person who loved dabbling in a large variety of mediums. I love music, painting, drawing, sculpting etc. and the idea of being able to apply those interests to a commercial avenue and make a career out of it was highly appealing to me. As for photography specifically, I actually got my first taste of it back when I was obsessed with snowboarding and loved being able to capture those moments on camera. As time went on I fell away from extreme sports and my camera ended up collecting dust for a few years until I started my schooling for graphic design. I was required to complete a few courses on photography and through doing so I realized that the camera was a new reason to go out and adventure… to see the world in new perspective and that’s a beautiful thing.
RI: Introspective Design is your photography and design business and you even branched a little into clothing with it. Are there any plans to expand into anything else?
EM: Introspective Design is an umbrella. I dabble in so many different things that it just made sense for me to stray away from having a plethora of little businesses and just aim at creating more of a lifestyle brand. I want Introspective Design to become synonymous with the creative lifestyle. I am kept quite busy at the moment with everything I have going on but I am always dreaming up ways of expanding.
RI: How did you link up with DJJO to become his creative director?
EM: Back last summer my name was mentioned to one of the promoters for “Paint or Dye” and I ended up shooting that show and the partners for the show were impressed by my work. One of those partners happened to be JO’s manager. It wasn’t until early this year though that I was asked to shoot Jibfest, which was put off by the same people. Shortly afterward I was contacted about doing some promo photos for JO and it just kind of snowballed from there! I mentioned that I had some design skill and I just ended up being given more and more tasks.
RI: What were some of your favourite design projects/photo shoots?
EM: I have a lot of fun with doing promotional photos for the artists I work with. I love taking the photos and then being able to get even more creative with them for the posters and social media material. I also had a lot of fun working with Waterfront Fire on their album. I spent some time doing the designs from the studio that they were recording at so I really got to feel and vibe off of the creative energy those guys were putting down.
RI: Are you working on anything now that you can tell us about?
EM: I have a couple of tours coming up that should be super cool… nothing I can really talk about yet though. I also just finished up an album design with Young Manics for their new album, “Challenger”. I had a lot of fun designing that and I think it's a bit of a different direction then what I am used to taking, but it worked.
RI: Is there anyone out there that would be your "dream" client?
EM: I really enjoy having a bit of an over the top, cinematic type flare to my work, so when people come along and appreciate that style then I am usually pretty excited to work with them. But in general my favourite clients are the ones who basically just let me do what I want haha, I feel those are the projects that turn out the most appealing.